An Author in Progress

This is where you'll find me trying to mould myself into a respectable writer - it may take sometime...
You'll find anything from a piece of experimental creative writing, some thoughts on my novel developments, to even the occasional literature-based academic paper.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


I have finally completed three years of study.

In that time my course has been cut, my child has completed high school, I have met a fantastic artsy dude who's going to see me into my old age, I have a predicted first to come from my graft, AND... I'm published!

So several big events make the whole thing insane, and it's easy to lose sight of the original grand plan amongst final presentations (who opts to spend 20 minutes talking about the language of romance in Lord of the Rings? - evidently me), the last rushed meetings with student friends with whom the final months have been barely spent, and the all important final year dissertation.

The first thought I had about ending my course was, 'That's it, I'm done... I'm free!' then very quickly I realised the final events which have made up the past few weeks have been crazy and I've had barely a moment to take stock or mental photo of this next step.

So what exactly was my grand plan? Honestly, I really didn't have one, and I really didn't think I would make it to the end. I thought the dream I've had for years was yet another of the dozens of unrealised ones that make a thirty-something little more than a jaded big kid. Oscar speeches and testimonials aside. There are a whole collection of people who facilitated my progress.

There are of course the amazing lecturers, the in-house politics between these hen-pecked academics and management and our fabulous new UK higher education cutbacks which either bring out the worst or the best in us. I am going to put the 2000 word letter of complaint I composed when my course was discontinued down to a newly found language.

But that's also because I wasn't just speaking for myself. There are the students who we learn from and that really is the priceless part. Not just about who they are and what they know, but about what they bring out in us. They brought out something bigger in my grand plan - which was purely to glean back three years doing something for myself after a long stint of single-parenting. Thank you guys. You made part of the writer I am today.

Together we are all bound in print all thanks to our student editorial team who brought together our multiple voices into an anthology of creative writing called Ignite. Yes we have an ISBN and we aren't afraid to use it... :) And thanks to the help of my lovely David we have a fotos and a crafted weblog of our book-launch in the making.

There will be a day of book-signing at Waterstones in West Quay, Southampton on the 9th June from 11am onwards, so maybe we'll see you there.

So consequently, here I sit allowing myself time to take stock. Now while I'm staring at job adverts for receptionists and HR staff, marketing for small companies and pondering my nightmare relapse into cleaning for the sake of getting work, I seem to have a change of heart. Books still whisper academic questions in my ear, and the scent of a horde of hungover 20 yr olds has a poetic nostalgia.

I'm on the cusp of considering the publication of my full three years of studies - warts and all, angst and glory, with bad punctuation unedited and the joy that really 'getting' a sudden burst of understanding can bring as a guide of sorts, or at least a something so my kid will know I actually did this.

Thoughts turn to, 'hang on a minute, I'm not done yet!' and perhaps I may have something I can develop and share beyond a collection of rough essays and scatty presentations - maybe learn from some more undeniably avant garde kids.

You can't see the application form on my desk for postgraduate study, but it's got my name on it and I'm not afraid to use it. Watch this space.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Room to write outside of gender

First blog in an extremely long time. I'd be more sorry if it was beneficial to be, but this year I have to stop apologising and regretting things, accept I am who I am and do what I do... when I can.

Research has been jarring for months on the novel I am developing for my final year dissertation project. I love literary criticism and breaking it down in itself, I love theory but would love to try it all out and see how it works in fictional practise. Gendered language as a prison of classification, and the reading of the diaries of French Herculine Barbin who was classified as a '19th Century Hermaphrodite' has brought me here to try and create a different ending than suicide.

What keeps running through my head is this: what on earth was I thinking and what the heck do I know about the hell that society puts upon people born with intersexed bodies, or who feel the unavoidable, heartbreaking and brave journey through one gendered existence to another? Between changes at home that made even finding the head-space to read even my university reading lists a challenge, proving to people that you are a serious individual researching transgender/ intersex issues for a literary exploration is even more complex.

Trying to prove I am genuine to societies and closed help-groups who deal with these issues I would much prefer to understand before I progress, is a real hurdle. I would like to be one of those people who can just pretend, rummage through a few websites and magazines, read a couple of case studies and churn out word-counts, but that just is not me. Arguably, surely understanding the subject as a writer you hope to represent, as broadly as possible is the ideal?

What I would love of course is for all the research to flow, my brain to unblock itself, and for every door I knock on to magically open.

Life is not like this.

Writing is not like this – unless it's inside your book and you want to write it that way, but then how interesting a read would it be with no conflict to halt the narrative or to turn the perceptions of the reader, to alter the character? And more ideas will come from the result of research than I can hope to dredge out of my little mind, in my little writing room. If there's anyone out there who reads this, who may have an introduction they could make I'd be more than grateful.

I wont deny that at the moment I am my own biggest adversary. 'Darn you Sandra Murphy', I say with shaking fist! I have to be a bit more patient, but hey, that word has a double meaning. Writing can be a sickness sometimes that makes us grumpy as hell and prone to indulge on available and sometimes wonderful, modes of escapism. I guess the real part has to be a bit of dedication and acceptance that time management is essential for progress. A book, in concept alone, can be anything, but it amounts to nothing until you get yourself in gear.

Thus, Sandra has got to get herself in gear. But Sandra is also going to remind herself, here, in third person, that she would like very much to timetable in, with as little boring planning as possible, very frequent periods of rather wonderful escapism. After all, isn't that also a source of writing? Final thought: outside of gender, how the heck do I refer to myself in third person? Part of the reason for the research.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


It's been a while, so I thought, 'anything, Sandra'.

I've been reading so many academic things that writing fiction is not given half as much time as I had intended when I started my undergraduate studies. But here's the kick. I've come to the conclusion that all that research, all the getting my head around philosophy and lit theory - when I look back at my past work in the creative writing arena - opens so many more doors for a work to have, yes, reader appeal (by knowing my way around the craft better), but also substance. Maybe it's an age thing, but I hope not. I think part of the big joy for me with books is that it can have it all and if it doesn't then why the hell not?

Intention is a big question for any writer. Why screw about with crazy punctuation, why make characters do ridiculous things we wouldn't? Why take liberties with characters and make them suffer or happy if not for some reason more than just a narrative arc? Make those arcs work by giving them a backbone and a purpose for existence - that's my thoughts anyway. I think this is the difference between the possibility of earning with one publication, or building a reputation and if I am momentarily practical, a great tool for promoting the quality of future work. There. Part way to plugging a second work because the first had so much going for it.

Ethics and responsibility are one thing, but ethics as a creative notion, to intend for something to be written a certain way, at least arms your self-confidence.

I have just finished reading Katherine Dunn's 'Geek Love', about an American freak show family and the crazy ends to which the characters go through pains to be those unique individuals struggling for an existence in a world where the 'norms' worship their differences. I can well imagine that some of the events - and they are gruesome, but darkly beautiful - will turn some readers away, but intention is what it's all about. Narrative devices. Perfecting the critique of a social system and values made traditional but through acts which would challenge this ideal.

I don't know about anyone else, but the idea of writing something, now seeing with different eyes all that a work of fiction can be, and be specifically, if given intention, floats my boat bigtime. Can it hurt to look at how society works in social structures, viewpoints, or moral codes.. the list goes on.

Arming myself with at least some intention allows me to not only support my plot and more in the editing process (helping me to keep an eye on what is really necessary) but it also helps to troubleshoot weak characters, events, my use of language in and outside of dialogue.

If I choose some words over others, If I refer to specific themes in my work am I all about the reader and worrying if they will get it? Am I all about me and my exclusive peers - in which case financial success in publication is irrelevant? Or do I want to do it all. If I am in mixed company I have to tone down my Scots and this is because I WANT to have dialogue, I want to communicate and be a part of something.

Getting back to writing, if I take the time to consider - do I really want to use colloquialisms in the greater narrative or do I give it to my characters? Or if not that, then maybe give my character the narrative and let them face the critique.

I have to say I love fiction narrated by characters because even if it is not my own dialect it gives me a real flavour of the source of the story. For Geek Love, that American apple-pie family, the universal taint of celebrity, the image of popcorn and candyfloss flavoured by formaldehyde suspensions just gets me. And it all informs my own work. There is no new story - not in essence - but with intention, we can make a damn good argument for why ours is different, and not make the error of slipping into pure imitation.

I was working on one novel, now I have three on the go, so it's just as well I love research. Intention will hopefully help me to keep my ideas focused, and not allow my storylines to spill over into each other. Schizophrenia must be kept in check and I know that with writing at least it's there in me! There's a sinking suspicion in me that this post sounds like a speech... if it does, trust me it's meant to be directed internally.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

A Critique of Self-Publishing: `Where do I stand?'

Since writing this critique there have no doubt been changes. I have not included the latest issues raised by Apple's legal battle for a share of digital books and would advise any person reading this critique to make sure of double-checking any information used before drawing defined conclusions or indeed making any decisions.

I would also wholeheartedly welcome any feedback or correction of any information I have conveyed, as the purpose of this critique was to assess for myself as a prospective author if it is a route suitable for me. I would really love to hear from those for whom the self-publishing process has been lucrative or for whom it has served their particular artistic purpose.

Critique of Self Publishing: 'Where do I stand?'

Self-publishing was at one time likened to vanity publishing and has been compared by ghostwriter, Andrew Croft to commissioning a one-off or bespoke piece of furniture: the author as 'simply commissioning a book as they might commission a family portrait or a piece of made to measure furniture'. (2004, Ghostwriting, The Writer's and Artist's Yearbook 2011, p149) However, POD (print on demand) and the internet, with the rise of the e-book and international, online marketplace providers, such as Amazons have changed this:

'Publishing is going through a sustained period of change and development. Audiences are demanding text, audio and video content all through one medium, and the spread of handheld devices is stimulating the development of new products and business models.'

Now authors who are unable to acquire representation by a publishing house are turning to using this route as a financially viable way around the traditional, and alternatively as a way in to, publishing houses whose books are closed to conventional submissions. This quote from the website entitled, Skillset goes on to propose the following about the relevance of careers in publishing (therefore suggesting it is a chosen route far aside from being an author):

'A range of skills are essential to working in publishing. There is a growing need for a better understanding of the impact on intellectual property rights and market developments. Skills like an ability to work flexibly and respond to change are highly sought after.'(Ibid)

I would propose that unless an immeasurable amount of time is available to constantly update and research all of the areas (from basic printing, formatting issues and visual aesthetics, to legal rights, distribution and dealing with finance and accounting) it would be a wasted energy to fool oneself into thinking this could be done successfully and alone. If you have a sound base in navigating around technology and are quick to update your knowledge of recent developments, then there may be some room for an element of achievement. But for the hours possibly spent and the software required to assist in this project you would have to consider why you have chosen to write the book and more than this, what the chief goal in its publication is. Unless you have an outreaching desire to examine the publishing process from A to Z it could be an energy drain and as such, counter productive for an author.

Having started to maintain a blog and Twitter site for myself, I have difficulty in seeing how it would be possible for an author to be able to do all of this and deal with a globally widening market that's boundaries go beyond the geographical, nor have I the finances to afford a solicitor to deal with any problems which may arise. Consider Dan Brown and JK Rowling's legal battles on intellectual ownership of the basis of their respective works.

If taking, for example, the Harry Potter series, now available in dozens of languages, not only would translation issues have to be dealt with, but also the legal ramifications of transatlantic business and trade rights, even the move into film and marketing. This is of course speculation on an author's work having Rowling's worldwide success, which even for her did not happen overnight. It still begs the question of how much one person, as an author, would desperately want to take on all the roles, given they have faith that their work is absolutely worth the effort, then surely there would be an agent or publisher keen to back this up. But with a market struggling in the internet boom and the recent years of financial hardship in the UK it is possible to see why some may look to another option, and more so, how the process can be enabled with varying gradients of assistance in the process.

The very presence of publishing platforms (who offer packages of services that range from the very basic to as much as guaranteeing space on marketplace shelves for a set period of time) is proof that the industry is tightening its belt. Authors are even using blogs as a way of platforming their own works without agent assistance, but I would be truly concerned about the validity of my moral rights as the owner of the literature. My knowledge of internet issues, malware and other digital copyright complications would be hampered by my lack of experience and I would be much more at ease to know someone would be responsible and therefore answerable for the loss of work, rights, and possible commercial gain.

Chapter 5 (pp79-81) of Getting Published: a guide for lecturers and researchers on 'Book Publishing' was relatively useful in answering the questions which need to be asked of the author, and whose answers seem to be concurrent in most of the sources researched for this critique: Should I go for the most prestigious? Opt for a better chance with a smaller, lesser known organization? Is there a hierarchy within the publishing world? What criteria should come first? If it's about maximizing the readership of my work I should I aim thus, for the publishing house with the best marketing, sales and promotion 'machine'? (Wellington, Jerry, 2003) As an author, would I want an agent who is more visible to me or to the publishing industry? I have a feeling the latter becomes more relevant once I have been accepted for representation, but confusingly, unless I know, how will I know? I would propose that unless a middle ground platform can be found in one of the sites now in circulation that can offset a share of the author's burdens, surely the real aim for the writer is to do exactly that; write.

Yet platform publishing is becoming more valued with the acknowledgement by houses such as Penguin Publishing Group, where traditional publishers have created their own platform companies to maintain a competitive edge. Industry players such as Penguin's AuthorHouse and HarperCollins platform site reveal how the market has evolved, suggesting that the process of self publishing can be lucrative towards a final destination as kind of CV for a published work.

'"Vanity publishers just acted as printers, they didn't even assign ISBN numbers. The old, dark side of vanity publishing has been superseded by reputable businesses." AuthorHouse also offers a "Borders Package", from 849 [pounds sterling], which ensures that three copies of the author's finished work have guaranteed shelf space in one of the chain's five participating stores for 10 weeks.'*1
(Wood, Felicity, April 10, 2009, Down from the ivory tower: has self-publishing come of age?self-publishing.)

These technological developments have possibly enabled new authors whose books have been lost in the hard slush pile to yet, find their way into having their work managed by large industry players by first putting the product out there for people to either approve or reject via platform peer review by other applicants. But there are limits by making this move. As noted during a search for publishers and agents for submission of synopsis' it is worth remembering that they do not always offer the same full benefits to those who come via the unconventional routes and who are not already on their books.*2

But it could also be argued that with professional new technology accessible at home, and with the know-how and right training (such as a course in editing/graphics/creative writing) a product could be brought almost entirely up to the point of printing at one keyboard with the right Word programmes:

'Publishing no longer has to happen in lengthy stages; the maker can 'come back' to their text instantaneously to cut, paste and generally fiddle (rather than waiting days or even weeks for proofs).'
(Fusco, Maria. Feb 2007, Publish and Be Damned. PublishBeDamned)

Alternatively there are authors, previously published, who have gone aside from the traditional in support of self publishing for the e-market, bypassing the print process entirely via e-publishing:

' small deal that had the publishing industry paying attention was J.A. Konrath's decision to do his next book, Shaken, with Amazon's publishing arm, AmazonEncore.... making [Konrath a] 70% return on the list price of his forthcoming e-book--$2.10 off a $2.99 Kindle edition... Konrath, a midlist crime novelist [who was] published by Hyperion in paperback for years, is an active self-promoter who's repeatedly spoken of the financial success he's had self-publishing his backlist [sic] as Kindle editions.
(Deahl, Rachel. May 24 2010, Agents weigh the growth of alternate publishing options)

As Deahl continues, the point of this for Konrath was the following:

'[In a 'big corporate publishing']environment in which overall print sales are falling week by week [Konrath] ... saw there was an opportunity to create low-priced content [to] bypass the system." While self-publishing has been around for years, this agent noted, "what's new here is the means."' (Deahl, Rachel)

The means, for Konrath, has meant self publishing has allowed him to offset falling sales, by switching to e publishing, reducing his overheads and maximizing his profit.

Indeed the rise in authors swapping to self publishing with the invention of ebooks and POD, has in some cases encouraged agents and publishers to sit up and get more involved. Again, the reiteration of publishing houses and agents moving into the middle sphere between full representation and the latter end of vanity publishing can give encouragement for new authors to have some hope in the possibility of being represented and offset the management workload after the initial event:

'AmazonEncore, [is] "somewhere in between the big houses and the lonely road of self-publishing." The company...offers e-book publication and distribution as well as POD, with a focus on the e-book frontlist. [It creates] "an enormous transition point" ... forcing agents to do more editing, going with outside PR, telling authors they need to take hold of their own marketing... will mean that more agencies, and others, will jump into the publishing fray.' (Deahl, Rachel, 2004)

It could be read from this that as represented authors are forced to do more of their own marketing they see a benefit in going solo. Another author who moved to self publishing, published in spite of his publishers advice, to receipt of unfortunately negative criticism:

'After becoming disillusioned with mainstream publishers, the three-times Booker shortlisted Timothy Mo created his own Paddleless Press imprint to bring out a novel called Brownout on Breadfruit Boulevard (1995). [It] was more widely seen as a maladroit effort, littered with solecisms... reviewers pointed out that mainstream publishers might have saved the author [from himself].'
(Anon, Doing it yourself becomes respectable, Feb 14, 2003)

While this is the case for some known authors of hard copy books, for others having an established handle on a market via web media might make it a progressive choice for those whose beginnings are in the web based arena. The younger market, well versed and literate in traversing the internet, used to making decisions at the touch of a button, could be seen to be easily canvassed from this direction, removing the need for traditional advertising and marketing:

'More commonly known as the blogger Klazart on the gaming website... Bhala used his 8,000 loyal subscribers to push his novel Lesser Sins to the top of Authonomy's charts. Bhala posted a tutorial video on YouTube instructing his fans on how to vote for his novel and his digital self-marketing efforts have helped him get into the website's top five.'
(Wood, Felicity, April 10, 2009 Self-publishing Successes)

This form of voting can be notable for it's rise in utilisation, if the many authors self-promoting via such things as Twitter is taken into account. With the rise of such things as the Publish and Be Damned self-publishing fair mentioned in Fusco's article below, it becomes evident that this route is becoming far more mainstream than it may have at one time:

'A good place to.. measure... such current trends was the Publish and Be Damned self-publishing fair held in London last year. In its third year, the fair was a showcase and marketplace for predominantly UK-based self-publishers of all shapes and sizes.'

I believe in some ways it would be easier and possibly more forgiveable to make mistakes as a first time author, learn from them and hopefully move onto better things and more viable opportunities by way of the notion of a first novel as a CV. But for someone already established the move can either make or spectacularly break them, depending on the strength of their following. For the person experienced and easily adaptable to manoeuvring in an electronic arena, there is still the issue of legal and foreign representation. For others, the willingness to market themselves with little experience of whatever the result might be, work once in print, is not easily retractable and leaves the author open to future criticism.

There is certainly no argument that whatever the standpoint, there is much more flexible scope for the mode of production now than ever before, and that by having a choice, opens up a dialogue to see the validity of the self-publishing process. An author has more freedom to be realistic about picking and choosing how much or how little of their own representation they are willing to do or pay someone else to do for them. For the very driven, self marketer there is no doubt that the self-publishing process offers a valid route into circulation.


*1 Since the writing of this critique, the unfortunate situation with Borders has had a ripple effect on such things. AuthorHouse is offering alternative modes of marketing via some of the major online providers of digital books, but as a lover of hard copies, my personal choice, if there was one, would be to go with a company that can offer shelf space.

*2 Indeed a thing to note about slush piles is the works, genres and markets a publisher is already meeting their quota for. Anyone who has enquired about a reputable publishing house's editorial guidelines may well find that while they handle a specific theme it does not necessarily mean (however amazing your manuscript is) that they will want to have multiples of one theme. If you were an author under contract, would you be happy for your publisher to take on other works that may challenge the desirability of your own novel?

Full text: 2749 words

Critique of Self Publishing 'Where do I stand?' Copyright © Sandra Murphy,
25/01/2011. All rights reserved.

This work was produced as part of undergraduate studies at Southampton Solent University, UK

Bibliography and further reading:

A&C Black (2010) The Writers and Artists Yearbook (2011) A&C Black: London

Al-Ubaydli, Mohammad. Publishing: the publishing process. (careers).
Student BMJ 11 (Nov 2003): 412(2). Academic OneFile.Gale.
[accessed 4/11/2010]

Anon, Doing it yourself becomes respectable. (Opinion)." The Bookseller (Feb 14, 2003): 20(1). Academic OneFile.Gale. Southampton Solent University.
[accessed 4 Nov. 2010]

Berinstein, Paula. Self-publishing and the book trade, Part 2: distribution, Searcher 15.4 (April 2007): 14(4). Academic OneFile.Gale.
[accessed 4/11/2010]

Bigsby, Christopher (2000) Writers In Conversation, Volume One,
EAS Publishing: Norwich.

Bigsby, Christopher (2001) Writers In Conversation, Volume Two,
EAS Publishing: Norwich.

Deahl, Rachel. Agents weigh the growth of alternate publishing options. Publishers Weekly 257.21 (May 24, 2010): 7(2). Academic OneFile. Gale. [accessed 4/11/2010 ]

Fusco, Maria. Publish and Be Damned. PublishBeDamned Art Monthly 303
(Feb 2007): 34(1). Academic OneFile. Gale. Southampton Solent University.
[accessed 4/11/2010]

Murray, Victoria Christopher. Flying solo: after success with big publishing houses, some authors see advantages in self-publishing. Black Issues Book Review 7.5(Sept-Oct 2005):(1). Academic OneFile. Gale. Southampton Solent University. [accessed 4/11/2010]

Skillset: The sector skills council for creative media, Online:[accessed 5/11/2010]

The Publishers Association (online)
[accessed 5/11/2010]

Wellington, Jerry (2003), Getting Published: a guide for lecturers and researchers. Routledge Study Guides, London: RoutledgeFalmer

Wood, Felicity. Self-publishing successes. The Bookseller 5377 (April 10, 2009): 24(1). Academic OneFile. Gale. Southampton Solent University.
[accessed 4 Nov. 2010]

Wood, Felicity. "Down from the ivory tower: has self-publishing come of age? Self- publishing." The Bookseller 5377 (April 10, 2009): 23(2). Academic OneFile. Gale. [accessed 4/11/2010]

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Crazy Talk with protagonist, plus added thoughts of the wonderful Chris Cleave in a #bookclub chat

Just a small update concerning the development of my first novel.

I spent an hour with a pad, biro, a mug of coffee and with an imaginary interviewee on Monday afternoon.

Thinking on my protagonist's hopes, dreams, fears (and envies - I shall put this evening's #litchat discussion on Twitter re envy down to a wild coincidence)I figured the nuttiest and probably most direct way to figure out why she ends up doing the things she does was to ask her.

Okay, I know, it sounds bonkers and , yes, if I had been speaking aloud there may have been several undergraduates calling for student support. Try it. I dare you.

I asked author of 'Incendiary', Chris Cleave (again on Twitter - #bookclub) about his process of characterisation and he embraced the idea that getting to know the depths of your characters make the best way in, and sometimes beyond, the project in hand.

Quote: Sometimes I will be halfway through a draft and I will decide, as a character gets bigger, that a particular element of their back story is more relevant to the theme I'm exploring than the front story I was planning to tell. In some ways that's frustrating because I end up throwing a lot of good work away. But it is all part of the process of novel writing, which is about using story to explore a theme. The theme is a dark forest and my story is a dim torch. Sometimes my torch beam will reveal a part of the forest, and sometimes it will reveal a brighter torch just lying there and waiting to be used.
_Chris Cleave

Very cool for me to get a response to a question as I loved his earlier novel 'The Other Hand' which left me desolate and moved at the same time.

So back to my interview with my protagonist. What I did was open my pad, left justify my protagonist Anna's dialogue and right justify my own. I left closed bracketed centred script for body language, surroundings and interventions (a rowdy tour of prospective students took up several minutes) for the time I spent doing this. I found a quiet area with a comfy seat and just let go. Already I know exactly the parts which are more about me than her, and that's a good thing as I can now work on honing the intentional from accidental.

I wonder if anyone else has different ways in which they access their characters? I might be keen to apply different techniques to secondary ones.

Anyway, moving on. A really big thank you to Draven Ames for a cool 'Hard Write' award on his blog. Not sure it's deserved, but it's boosted my rubbish week. Rubbish week totally down to the financial bugbear that being a student is. Really think I should research finding some article work or something. Let me know if anyone hears of any. I love research (sad academic in the embryonic stage)so even if anyone wants some done for their own back stories and can't access specialised information... I have ways ;)

I shall be back very soon with my undergrad critique of self publishing, which I hope will be picked apart and critiqued in its turn by discerning reads. Bizarre that it references a Borders package which may or may not exist any longer. I just need to check that the quotes I have accessed are okay for me to blog, as I can't afford to be paying royalties!!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

A good day.

Just bought myself a book online and I'm very excited.

My uni friends mumbled about having nothing highly contemporary to look at, so I'm gonna bring this in, Marc!

A, B & E by Marc Nash. You can find a link via twitter or through Amazon, so if you like the VERY experimental then go check it out.

On the academic front Walter Benjamin and I are spending a day or two in each others company (in that imagined space between author and audience). I have no comment yet, but hopefully some time soon I will feel smart enough to blog about this. Maybe if my essay does well that'll be something to post! ['Yawn...' say my follow friends}

'Mwahahahaha.' My response.

Had a great night of writing, managed to link two major plot points much more easily than I first imagined. It's all in the details. George Eliot worked that way - though I'm definitely no Georg Eliot. My character, Anna has laid the bed for her own fall. I'm mean, but what can I say? She's a student. She gets it.

Anyway, Sandra takes her first dip into Cuban Salsa this evening. I shall perhaps tell you how it went, providing I succeed!!!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Kafka, coffee, and a short story review.

Eeps it's been a while.

I've been totally caught up in essays and overdosing on coffee to keep me awake, but having just been buzzed by a Twitter buddy I'm reminded about why this undergraduate course I'm on is opening fun doors. Being on the editorial team for our university fiction magazine is bringing heaps of reading fun my way. I'm also reading Goethe, Camus and Kafka at the moment[Can anyone PLEASE! tell me there's more significance to Gregor's father imbedding an apple into his mutated body than Nabokov would argue], so it's been fun to break away from the philosophically absurd, existentialist mood I have been falling into to review a short story... Ah the irony.

The Nothingness by Draven Ames

A moment in time and only one afternoon creates the framework for this 'story of the month' (for online SNM Magazine), in which the protagonist, John's visit to his deceased father's house reveals horrors that go beyond the boundaries of family issues.

'This is the story of a girl named Imagination' … a really clever opening sentence that drew me to read on. Some very philosophical thoughts conveyed with, in places, some truly poetic dialogue. Before the end of this visceral horror short, I was completely reading metaphors alluding to notions about cultural disillusionment, oil controversy and the crumbling of the family unit. As for 'Meaning without substance' says the Nothingness to John, she certainly makes herself visible.

I'm really lucky to have read an earlier draft and was really enthused by Draven's keenness to take on feedback and his ability to really go with it. I do, however think that he can do more with this storyline. It's obvious his mind works in the novel framework for the depth of what he is trying to communicate through this short. I almost want him to get John to take Imagination's mad sister out of the attic with him and wreak her on the West! Maybe we could do with a little shake up.

Draven Ames is a published author from Oregon, USA, with a completed novel to his list of achievements. An ex-paratrooper and real family man, he's a young writer – in my opinion, with real potential. All the best of luck to him as he recommences education and refines his craft. I know there's even more quality to come.

If you get a chance pop by the SNM online magazine ( check this out. Draven really welcomes your comments and feedback.

Find him on Twitter as Draven_Ames or find his webpage at