Aug 1st

Self doubts

By UKeagle

Over the last 8 months I've come love and enjoy writing. As always (unless you are very lucky) life hasn't turned out the way I planned, unless the plan was not the one that I was given and something completely different, in which case such a dramatic break down in communications is something even more disturbing. Anyway throughout this time I've found it fantastically useful to be able to escape the world and write. I've got my novel planned, I've done some courses to improve my understanding and make my toolbox a lot bigger and I've started to write my ideas.

The problem for me is that now is that I have even more things on my mind and find every opportunity to digress from writing. I’m sure that the main reason for this is that writing is something most people do alone. When I'm alone the ideas flow. But more frequently what flows in much higher abundance is self-doubt and thoughts about real life. 

The main doubt with lies around the length of my book and it has been something that I haven’t really talked about with anyone up until now. The quality (or lack of) is not the real issue here. Especially as I am convinced that some of the books that are published are not done because they are exceptionally well polished pieces of writing. But moreover that they has a core idea that will fill a gap in the market.

The main doubt for me is that my story cannot possibly reach the length desired by most publishers. In my mind it is never going to come close to this. In fact it will come in at something around 30,000 words. Is this a problem some might say? And perhaps to them the answer is no. For me it is a problem because I do want to be published. Even if the book only sells one copy which my nan buys! 

My thriller has many twists and turns as one would expect. The end is only in my head at this point but it is a frightfully interesting affair and will keep readers interested. But as it is never going to be target length it will not reach the readers that I would like.

A secondary problem that I'm having is that I want to improve my writing and I am endeavouring to do so. For the most part I am or at least I feel that I am. However I think I’m struggling because writing is something that is so personal. What one ready loves another may think is terrible. A lot of this springs from the fact that writing, as with life, can be done in so many styles. In sports or in work you can accurately say that, if occurring in the same time period, one is better than the other. I don't honestly believe you can say that in writing. For example Catcher in The Rye. I wanted desperately to read this book as it is regarded by many as an amazing red. I found it hard to read and generally uninteresting.

Whilst I don't really know what the purpose of this blog it has made me feel better. I see so many success stories on here and think my idea is as good and I want it to reach people so that they can enjoy it. As I don't think that this will happen I find myself procrastinating to the Nth degree. Yes there is self-publishing but generally I like books. Real books. Ideally those with hard covers. This is completely the opposite of everything else as I am a huge gadget fiend.

Jul 31st

Dr Hairy in: Big.Data, part 2

By Edward Picot
Big Data part 2 image
At a party hosted by his wife, Dr Hairy finds himself being cross-examined about the Big.Data initiative - with hilarious results!
The latest in a series of low-tech zero-budget puppet-animation videos about the adventures and misadventures of an ordinary (but somewhat hirsute) doctor working in the NHS.
On YouTube:
On Vimeo:
More about Dr Hairy:
- Edward Picot - personal website
Jul 31st


By UKeagle
Kevin ran down the empty streets. Nothing unusual there. The wide eyed look of horror on his face showed that this wasn't usual, far from it. At least it would have revealed his terror had their been anyone to see it. There wasn't. 

It was Wednesday, recycling day, and brown wheelybins lined the streets waiting for collection. Kevin was out of shape and over weight. Three weeks ago he'd decided to take up running in an attempt to relieve the strain that extra weight put on his heart. 

The immense strain on his heart today was not because he was a lard arse. Behind him a lone man. His skin had the greeny white colour of milk that had been kept a few days too long , sweat stains covered his shirt and his hair was lank and greasy.

For a moment the sunlight struck the rear window of Mr Logan's sedan and bounced straight into Kevin's eyes causing pastel couplers spots to blur his vision. Kevin didn't see the bin a few steps infront of him until it was too late. He stumbled through the sudden storm of potato peel and orange skins and  and hit the ground hard. 

"Bloody Hell,".

As he pushed himself to his feet a biting pain shot through his ankle. Turning he saw the most brilliant pair of green eyes. It was the last thing Keven saw as the pain overcame him and darkness fizzed at the edge of his vision before there was only darkness. 
Jul 31st


By EzBloke

So this is a little bit awkward seeing as how I have not been on here for a while. That and the fact that most of you on here are serious writers, with ambition and talent and everything. And the wierdly uncomfortable feeling I have with self promotion. But this is the crucible for my dream, this is where I started stoking my wannabe fire, this is where I turned my hand from humour through science fiction to fantasy. And then back to silly humour. Maybe this will be better in rhyme? Here goes...

I want to tell a story
About a boy called me
But nerves are funny things
And they can make you pee

I have some news to tell you
News you may not want to hear
So I've written a little poem
And this is it right here

It seems I've done something stupid
And not really a great boast
But I've published a book on Kindle
Titled "Is it safe to eat uncooked toast?"

Now I know what you're all thinking;
Is it an exposé?
A sordid little kiss-and-tell?
Just the icky shades of grey?

Or perhaps a rambling memoir?
Of people that I have met
And all their little secrets;
Tell me... are you worried yet?

No dear friends it's neither
Just the silly stuff I post
I'm serious here; it really IS on Kindle
Called "Is it safe to eat uncooked toast?"

Now the whole thing is scary
And I'll admit I did choke
Which is why the author isn't "Sheldon"
But my nickname; "EzBloke"

So that is where I've been
Normal service will now resume
Oh my god, how rude of me,
forgot to ask; and how are you...?

Shameless plug;
Or for those of you in the US.
Jul 30th


By RichardB
Only a mile or two north of where I live, on the uplands between the Swansea Valley and the Vale of Neath, there is a rather lonely stretch of country. Visible from my house, it stretches away towards the mountains of Fforest Fawr: forestry plantations, sheep pasture, and a handful of scattered farmhouses. It’s traversed by some very narrow, very little used lanes. As you go west towards the Waterfall Country and the Vale of Neath, some of these lanes peter right out into rough, unmetalled tracks. You can walk for hours without meeting a living soul, or seeing anything to show you what century you’re in.
A little over two years ago we were driving along one of those lanes, looking for somewhere we could park and get out for a walk, when we came upon an isolated farm. It was an extraordinary place. The lane ran right beside a short terrace of four cottages with a barn built across one end; one cottage in the middle was in good repair and inhabited and the others were ruinous, probably used for storage. The farmyard was on the other side of the lane: we later discovered that when they want to drive their sheep into the yard they simply shut the gates across the lane and close it.
I looked at this house, pondering what it must be like living there amidst ruins in the middle of nowhere, and I was reminded of a passage in a Sherlock Holmes story that has always stuck in my mind for some reason. (Maybe it was biding its time, waiting for its moment to arrive?)

But Holmes shook his head gravely.

‘Do you know, Watson,’ said he, ‘that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation, and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.’

‘Good heavens!’ I cried. ‘Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?’

‘They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.’

‘You horrify me!’

‘But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.’
In the year or so since we’d moved to South Wales the urge to write had been lying dormant. I’d begun to believe that finding myself living a life I could actually enjoy rather than endure had lulled it to sleep. Now my writer’s imagination woke up and started flexing its muscles. It got speculating about what sort of stuff - abuse, incest, murder, you name it - could go on in that farmhouse, out there in the back of beyond without anyone nearby to keep it in check or to find out about it, how claustrophobic it would be to live in a situation like that with nobody to turn to, and whether there could be a story in this. That percolated for a little while, and then the spark came to light the tinder.
I've always loved ghost stories and wanted to write one, but I’d never had a really good idea for one. And though I’ve got nothing against a bit of darkness, the vague ideas that were now floating about in my head were a bit relentlessly grim to be the main thrust of any story I’d enjoy writing - but what if that nastiness were in the past, and had left its traces behind? What if the house were haunted (and by more than just traces), waiting for my unsuspecting characters to buy it and move in? What influences from the dark might come to bear on them? What shenanigans might ensue? At last I had an idea for a ghost story that might work.
And it did. I think I knew from the off that this was going to be a step up from anything I’d ever written before. It hasn’t been an easy ride all the way, but so much fell into place as I went along. My three principal characters named themselves (I usually dither endlessly about names) and wrote themselves, fleshing themselves out from the bare bones I started with and coming alive on the page before me. Even the title (over half the stuff I’ve ever tried to write has never acquired proper titles) fell into my lap when I went back and checked that passage from Sherlock Holmes. A Record of Sin. Perfect.
Jul 29th

a hero for our time?

By mike

I have not written much lately and have been reading copiously instead - and going to the theatre.  ‘Methinks I have no more wit than a Christian or ordinary man has but I am a great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit.’

‘No question,’ replies Sir Toby Belch.

Some weeks ago, a Kent village celebrated Shakespeare and an actor portrayed Richard 111 in the topical setting the village carpark.  The actor recited the opening  lines of the play and  Richard 111 came across as a charming gentleman who  rather brushed aside his ‘descant on mine own deformity’ with a polite and apologetic shrug.   I spoke to the actor afterwards and he said he wanted to get away from the ‘Sir Larry’ approach.  The following week I attended a production in London which took a more Tarantino view and Richard 111 was truly demonised - with a crooked back too!  “You venomous toad,”  etc, etc.

 Last week I read a book on the discovery of Richard 111’s bones and no doubt he was not the hunchback that Shakespeare portrays.  

Over the weekend, I  read Thomas More’s life of Richard 111 which is the source for Shakespeare and also re-read ‘Alison Weir’s ‘The Princes in the Tower’.

Richard 111 seems due for sainthood.  I would concede that he might have had legitimate right to the crown,  but he achieved power though a coup d’etat, savagely eliminated all opposition and oversaw a military dictatorship.  Alison Weir even states that he had no  legal right to the role of Protector and, in this respect, the will of Edward 1V was invalid.

The argument that he was no worse than  other Kings of the period does not wash and one cannot dismiss Thomas Moore’s book as  fiction.  It is almost certain that Richard 111 committed the crimes that he did.  Alison Weir is of the opinion that the verdict of a historian is different from that of a lawyer.   Richard 111 might not be  found guilty of killing the ‘Princes in the Tower’ in a court of law, but the ‘balance of probabilities’ suggests that he did set the crime in motion.

I would concede that Shakespeare’s plays are open to many interpretations which might reflect the era in which they are set.  For the present decade, Richard 111 seems an appropriate hero and, thereby,  his actions are applauded.  Canonization will surely follow!

The reason for this piece is that someone dismissed More’s book as a piece of Tudor propaganda and only fit for the trash can.   Looking through newspaper reports on the finding of the bones, it seems that this is the accepted view of  Thomas More’s ‘Richard 111.’   There are other opinions, but I have eaten too much beef.   

Jul 27th

Help! My hero went flat!

By Stoked
A while back I took a break from my story to take care of other things. I think I might have fought it harder if I hadn't known that my story was starting to have some problems. Once I got back to it, I couldn't seem to get it going again, so I decided to go back and try to work out the problems. In the process I discovered what I think is my biggest problem. My tall, dark, hot, and hunky leading man is going flat.
Instead of the sexy, brooding, strong, honourable, tormented soul, I planned, he is starting to seem like some sexy, slightly manic, kinda desperate mess. He is still a viable character, I just need to pump him back up.
I beseech you, oh great and knowledgable cloudies. Help me fix him, without him his mate will surely die.
Has anyone else had any kind of similar issues with a character? If so, what kind of changes did you make to fix things?
If you haven't had this kind of problem, might you have any thoughts on how you keep your leading men oozing all those desirable qualities while suffering through all the turmoil?
I'd greatly appreciate anything you have to offer on this topic. Thanks. 
Jul 27th

A new Cloudie enterprise - anthology 'A Seeming Glass'

By Daedalus
You Cloudies are a clever bunch. Moreover, you're a companionable lot who like to enjoy the success of others, so I think you may be interested to hear what ten of your fellows have been up to of late.

Members of the 'Random and Speculative Short Story Appreciation' group are about to release a collection of short stories. This has been edited by Jillybean and your humble servant, and includes 14 stories written by Jillybean, Mad Iguana, Raine, Squidge, Woolleybeans, Stephen Mark, JT, Kaz Ginane,  Seagreen and your aforementioned humble servant.

So what's it about?


A Seeming Glass - A Collection of Reflected Tales

'How can I read the futures if I cannot see your skin?'

'Six mysterious swans glide on a holographic pond in a totalitarian capital city.  A terrified girl awaits her part in a ritual that could change the future... and the past. A dancer in ancient Jerusalem mourns her maimed sister and prepares for the performance of her life.  A sword of legend sends its wielder back through the fiercest battles in history. A freshly qualified vampire hunter experiences the practical side of his vocation. Fourteen intriguing, dramatic, humourous and unsettling tales,  inspired by existing stories and reflecting the breadth of storytelling from Greek myth to Hammer Horror, via fairy tales and Arthurian legend. '

It will be released on 7 August on all major ebook platforms and as a paperback. See the page on Goodreads here which should point you in the direction of where it will be available from - and I would thoroughly recommend you give it a try

We're very excited. Well, we would be. But though we say so ourselves, we think this is a fantastic collection of stories that can stand alongside any on the market. If you enjoy great writing, by people you know in particular, please give this collection a try.

But we're not just leaving it there. To complement the book, we've set up a website that over the coming weeks will have additional content added to it - free short fiction that will accompany the main book, artwork and blogposts from all the authors. The first new item is now up, courtesy of Mad Iguana, who writes under the name of Martin J Gilbert. (Personally I don't blame him - I don't know what Mr and Mrs Iguana were thinking when they named their little boy). You can find his intriguing new piece here

We hope you enjoy the book and everything else.
Jul 25th

One Line! Are you 'F'ing Serious?

By Stoked
So, I read a lot of books and articles about writing. It helps me think of things differently, come up with other ideas I might not have, on my own. They all tell you that at some point you need to come up with a One Line Pitch, or at the very least the blurb for the back cover. Which shouldn't be more than two very short paragraphs. Really?
Even the thought of this task makes me cringe. Umm, I'm writing a book! Thousands of words to deliver a story that spans a few days in these peoples lives. I don't have a short answer, if I did I wouldn't need to write a book. 
Ok, that was the tantrum.
I've tried to accomplish this task, many times. Everytime the result either ends up in the "Eh, It sucks but maybe it's a start." pile, or in the garbage. People ask me what my book is about, and that's where the conversation ends. I don't know what to say. The whole story wants to fly out of my mouth and go on for hours. I don't know how to condense it and keep it interesting.
For your current WiP... Do you have a One-Sentence story summary? Or, blurb? If so, how did you build it? What do you think were the most important bits that needed to be given to the reader? 
Any opinions on this topic would be greatly appreciatied.
Jul 25th

Free short story 'Ascent' available for download

By Daedalus

The short story ‘Ascent’ can be downloaded on my blog for free in honour of the first successful ascent of the Eiger Nordwand, on this day in 1938


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