Elmore Leonard’s Top 10 Tips

So passes Elmore Leonard, believed by many to be one of America’s greatest crime writers.  I’m not (by and large) a crime fan so have not actually (confession) read any of his work – however, I picked up on a Guardian article quoting Leonard’s top 10 tips for writing.  I won’t reproduce them here except for number 10, which I particularly like:

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them

We’re all guilty of this to some extent, I suspect, because (in no particular order):

  • we think our word count is too low
  • we’ve seen other authors write long tracts of beautiful prose, so we figure that’s what we should do, too, if we’re ever going to be taken seriously as bona fide scriveners
  • we haven’t bothered to re-read what we’ve written, so fail to see how boring and/or repetitive it is
  • we haven’t thought about how we’re going to structure what we write (my especial problem!)
  • we can’t help waffling

Take a look at the Guardian article yourself – what’s your favourite tip and which ‘rule’ are you most guilty of transgressing?

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‘Last Star’ in ‘Looking Landwards’

With the impending crises of climate change, scarcity of water, dwindling energy reserves and spiraling global populations, the effective management of our land and the food it produces has never been more relevant. Established in 1938 by a small group of far-seeing and enthusiastic engineers and agriculturalists, the Institution of Agricultural Engineers provides a professional nexus for the scientists, technologists, engineers, and managers working in the many and varied forms of land-based industry.

In 1988 the IAgrE marked its 50th anniversary with a publication that considered the changing face of farming and agricultural engineering over the previous half century. In 2013, to mark their 75th anniversary, they have chosen to commission a book that looks forward at what the future might hold. To help them achieve this, they approached NewCon Press.

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

Looking Landwards represents NewCon Press’ first ever open submissions anthology. We have been overwhelmed by the response, receiving submissions not only from within the UK but also from the USA, Australia, mainland Europe, Africa, and Asia; from professional writers and would-be writers, from scientists and engineers who are actively involved in dealing with the book’s themes to people who have simply been inspired by them. Looking Landwards features the very best of these stories. Twenty-three works of science fiction and speculation that dare to look to the future and examine what lies ahead for farming, for agricultural engineering and for all of us.

Contents:

  1. Introduction by Andy Newbold and Chris Whetnall of the IAgrE
  2. The Blossom Project – M Frost
  3. Contraband – Terry Martin
  4. When Shepherds Dream of Electric Sheep – Sam Fleming
  5. Inversion Centre – Darren Goossens
  6. Ode to an Earthworm – Gareth D Jones
  7. A Touch of Frost – Renee Stern
  8. The World Coyote Made – Jetse de Vries
  9. Earthen – Alicia Cole
  10. Soul Food – Kim Lakin-Smith
  11. Charlie’s Ant – Adrian Tchaikovsky
  12. Cellular Level – J E Bryant
  13. My Oasis Tower – Holly Ice
  14. Throw Back – Gill Shutt
  15. Mary on the Edge – Steven Pirie
  16. Landward – Den Patrick
  17. Long Indeed Do We Live… – Storm Constantine
  18. Tractor Time – Kate Wilson
  19. Veggie Moon – Neal Wooten
  20. Wheat – Kevin Burke
  21. Blight – Dev Agarwal
  22. Black Shuck – Henry Gee
  23. A Season – Rebecca J. Payne
  24. The Last Star – Nigel Edwards
  25. About the Authors

Released 28th October 2013, Looking Landwards will be published as:

A5 paperback (ISBN 978-1-907069-59-8)   Price:   £11.99 (UK), $20.99 (USA)

A numbered, limited edition hardback, each copy signed by all the contributing authors:

(ISBN: 978-1-907069-58-1)   Price:   £29.99

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LAST STAR

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

A nice email arrived the other day saying that my latest story has been accepted for publication in an anthology called Looking Landwards, to be published (paperback + hardback signed edition, date to be announced) by NewCon Press.

To give you a little foretaste, here’s a very short extract of my contribution – I hope you like it:

Goosegirl broke the lamb’s legs by placing a foot on them one at a time, taking a firm handhold then pulling, sharply.  One, two, three, four.  The animal had stopped bleating so she figured it was probably dead.  Four years after first being introduced to the necessity of such things, the work no longer made her sick.

A few well-practiced slices with the blade she always kept so sharp it could cut through butter – whatever that was; something the Olders talked about when they reminisced, along with chocolate, paraffin, and sugar.  Goosegirl figured butter must have been really hard and tough to crack, even though Great Gramps said he used to eat it.  She assumed he must have had really strong teeth.

Now the woolly coat was almost ready to be stripped from the flesh.  One long, circular stroke to separate the body skin from the head skin and then…

Baa!

Goosegirl looked up.  Another lamb was standing pathetically in the straw, wondering where its mother was, where the next meal of warm milk would come from.

“She ain’t around no more,” Goosegirl said.  “Storm done for her, just like for this one.  But don’t you worry.  You’ll soon be dressed extra warm for your new momma.”

Nearby, a ewe tethered to a stanchion started bleating, calling for her own lost newborn. Could she smell the blood, Goosegirl wondered?  Did she recognize the scent of her offspring?  Or was she unaware that her baby was close, dead, ready to be divested of its dermal layers?

“You need a lambkin to love,” Goosegirl told her as she ripped the fleece free of the raw carcass and quickly dressed the orphan.

“There.  Maybe you ain’t so pretty with all those bloody smears, but your new momma will take to you, I promise.”  She shepherded the lamb across the floor to where the prospective foster parent was waiting, then watched while the bond formed, the youngster beginning to suckle.  Orphans didn’t survive long on their own out in the pastures, not in the harsh, late winter.  This one was lucky that its own mother had been valuable prime stock, and had therefore been tracked by Manager, the Farm’s overseer, who’d directed the rescue.

After cleaning and sheathing the knife, Goosegirl collected up her bulky, one-piece fur-lined weatherproofs and clambered inside.  She pulled the fresh meat in with her; that would help keep the smell of blood out of the wind – no sense in attracting hunters on the trek back to the house.  A balaclava with attached snow-goggles was next, and then the hood and muffler.  Moving around with all that gear on wasn’t easy, but this was essential preparation before stepping outside.  With a final glance towards the new ‘family’ she opened the barn doors.

The blizzard howled in.

Best Wishes,
Nigel.

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NSFWG on Facebook

The Northampton SF Writers Group is now on Facebook.  The page is kept up-to-date with news and info about public events, author signings, latest releases through NewCon Press and Greyhart Press, so well worth a visit!

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Back in the Hunt for Work

Yes, I am back in the hunt for work, having become a redundant statistic for I-don’t-know-how many-times.

So this is a simply request: if you or someone you know has a vacancy for an experienced software test/quality manager/team leader, preferably in Milton Keynes, but Beds, Bucks, or Herts would be good, do please get in touch with me.  My Linked-in profile is:

uk.linkedin.com/in/angrywildlegendsdotcom/

Many thanks,

Nigel.

 

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In between Discworld novels? Try Badger’s Waddle for free this weekend on Kindle

In between Discworld novels? Try Badger’s Waddle for free this weekend on Kindle.

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Badger’s Waddle – Published at Last!

Finally Badger’s Waddle has made to the printers (both paper and e-book)! YEE-HAAA!  Many thanks to Tim at Greyhart for persevering and determination, particularly at a time of some personal concern for him (all my best thoughts on that matter to you and yours).

Also, though I’ve said thanks before, thanks again to Dean Harkness for his truly great and fun cover work!

SO, what’s the early days response from the readers who are, after all, the only critics who actually count.  Well, it’s a mixed bag.  I’m pleased that the majority are positive, with very kind analogies towards the great Terry Pratchett and the even greater Monty Python.  Of course there are negatives, too, and all are justified.  The thing about writing something for a mass market is that nobody is ever going to please everyone (confession: even my wife didn’t like BW, so if other’s don’t like it too I can’t find fault with them).

One word of explanation about exactly what BW is – or more correctly, about what it is not.  It isn’t a linear story.  It doesn’t follow a pattern.  It doesn’t subscribe to any particular genre.  It’s not educational.

What I wanted to do with the book was present ‘episodes’ in the lives of rather wacky villagers with fantastical backdrop to measure against.  One criticism was that some of the ‘chapters’ in BW  had no logical connection to others, and that is absolutely correct.  The point is that in any village/town/city you care to name, every single house/bungalow/flat will have a story of its own, a story that is wholly unconnected to any neighbours.  Just look at the news headlines on almost any day and you will see banners proclaiming: “They seemed such a quiet family,” say neighbours, or similar.

And so it is with BW.

As for the ‘gross’ aspects of the book, well – this is inevitably a matter of personal viewpoint; but I confess it was intentional.  I wanted to see if I could write something that was gross without recourse to crudity, and I think I just about managed that.  (As it happens, one chapter was originally a bit more naughty than the one that actually made it to the printers.)  So, for those who read it and are revolted I can only say ‘Sorry’ – but the blurb does, I think, give you fair warning!

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Grayhart Press January Sale

Announcing our Late-January Sale

Grayhart Press are holding an end-of-January sale with great prices on some of their catalogue (including one of mine).  Do go and take advantage and help a starving author earn a crust!

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Badger’s Waddle Cover Art

I was very disappointed when I learned that the cover art for Badger’s Waddle wouldn’t be ready in time for FantasyCon 2012.  I’d approved the preliminary sketches ages ago and liked the way they were going.

The artwork still isn’t quite finished, but the painting is now almost there, so I thought you might like to see a little preview:

Badger's Waddle Preview

This is a preview of the as-yet-incomplete cover art for Badger’s Waddle.

It’s totally wacky, silly, and 100% in keeping with the spirit of the book – I have to say I LOVE it!

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FantasyCon 2012 – the result

So along I went and actually sold a couple of Badger’s Waddle and The Cookie Tin Collection.

It all seemed to have been pretty well organised.  The fantasy Con people were friendly and the hotel was ok-ish (one of my friends had stayed overnight and reported hot water – which would have been good if it hadn’t been dripping from the ceiling light in his en suite!)

Our book launch wasn’t, I must admit, a tremendous success.  Apparently there’d been a bit of a party at the hotel the night before (I guess that’s what conventions are all about, really) with a 4 AM bed-time, and our launch slot, being the first event the next morning was, inevitably, less than ideal.  That, plus the fact that neither Paul (fellow launcher) nor I are household names, meant we kind of got bypassed as we sat at our little tables with piles of books and pens at the ready.  Some folks did stop to say hi and chat a while, and to them I really am very grateful.  Not all of you actually bought anything, but in these cash-strapped days I’m not surprised that you budgeted to purchase known brands, rather than try a taster of something new.

Anyhoo, I’d never done anything like that before but I’m glad I did.  Would I go to another?  Yes, I probably would, though I wouldn’t go for just the morning.  For one thing the price of casual parking in Brighton is ridiculous – I was there for 3 hours and was charged a fee of £15.00 (fifteen pounds stirling) for the privilege!  I’d also want to spend a bit more time getting to know some of the other visitors and soak in a bit more of the atmosphere, and maybe learn a thing or two from the old hands at the writing game.

So, worth going for the experience if not the sales.  Maybe it’ll be better next time.

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