Friday, April 30, 2010

The Case of the London Dragonfish Page

When, all those years ago, I said excitedly that my new website was done, some world-weary soul replied, "A website is NEVER done." So killjoy. So right.

Never mind. The latest achievement is the page for The Case of the London Dragonfish, Book 1 of The Slightly Jones Mysteries. (It includes the answers to the quiz about Victorian London at the back of the book, so even better value than usual!) And we will definitely do a mini-site for the Slightly books at some point.

I'm off to Islay this week - looking forward to it enormously - and before then, it's high time I got the Links page updated ...

Cheers, Joan.

P.S. I don't know what colours the cover has come out in on your monitor, but if it's a quite harsh lime green and a Magaret Thatcher blue, be assured the real thing isn't like that. I don't know why I can't get the real colours to come out, but this limey one is everywhere. Never mind. It's still a great cover!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Long and the Short of It

Even though I'm in the midst of writing a long novel (in the region of 70,000 words), I'm also thinking hard about short short fiction - nano-fiction, micro-fiction, flash-fiction - even text fiction, where you have to try to tell a story in 160 characters. That's because I find myself doing, one way or another, writing workshops this spring. And even with the best will in the world, writing Lords of the Rings in a couple of hours just isn't going to happen.

So short it is.

(There's something very satisfying and clean about a complete story told in as few words as possible. You can learn a lot about controlling language when the canvas is small. I'll probably be musing more on the delights of short on Monday when I have another An Awfully Big Blog Adventure slot.)

The 2-hour "exciting challenge" workshop with 120 teenagers last week went well. Not perhaps the most intimate of events, and I regretted not being able to have them read what they'd written at the time - being able to respond and tweak what comes next as you go along is obviously the best way of doing these things. But it DID work. Great kids and excellent teachers - I look forward to seeing some of their writing over the next few weeks.

The next event couldn't be more different. I'm going to Islay to do a workshop with the Writing Circle there. I have basically a full day with 4 grown-up women, with a schedule that includes morning coffee, afternoon tea and an extended lunch break ... bliss. There are so many neat things we can do around the idea of the short short story on a day like that. As with the teenager event, I find myself with far more material than I can fit in. Never mind, that's what "What You Could Try Next" sheets are for. But I've already checked with the organiser that her group is up for naked Morris dancing. Her response was to laugh with delight. (That's what "Ha. Ha." means, right?)

One of the things I'll be pointing my ladies towards on the "What You Could Try Next" sheet is the new competition that Solidus Press is running. It's called Mibit. Each week, a new 300 word chunk of an ongoing story is put up on their website. Anyone can read what's been written so far and submit what they think happens next. I've put in a starter called "Out of the Cold Sea" and already the next bit is up there, written by Deborah Gregory. Already the story is racing off in directions I never would have thought of - exciting stuff!

Long and short - and this blog is getting long. So I'll cut it short for now, and hope to see you over on ABBA on Monday.

Cheers, Joan.

P.S. I love this photo. It's interesting that the photographer put the tall woman in heels (albeit discreet ones) and the short woman in flats. Hardly necessary, I'd have thought!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Introducing Slightly Jones

The Slightly Jones Mysteries - The Case of the London Dragonfish. So new I haven't even seen a copy yet - not that I need to so much, since I already know the story. (The butler did NOT do it.) But it was out and about at the Federation of Children's Book Groups conference last weekend, and will be strutting its stuff at the London Book Fair this coming week. If you are at the Fair, please drop by the Catnip stand and give my girl a grin.

This week I'm doing a 2-hour writing workshop with 120 S1s (that's first year secondary for the non-Scottish among you). I'm not going to use the word "daunting" in case the teacher who invited me reads this and thinks she made a mistake! How about "an exciting challenge"? Yes, that should do. Please wish me luck with this exciting challenge ... Will report back next post.

Cheers, Joan.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Venice 2

(I'm not sure why Picasa will only let me send 4 pictures at a time, but anyway, here are the ones that disappeared from the first Venice post.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Got back late last night. I miss it already.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Mucker's Tale

The Mucker's Tale
, Book 3 of Tales from the Keep (Catnip Publishing) is now out! And not only that, there's a fine, culturally-uplifting animation to go with it ...

Here's the link.

(I love the scratchy quality of the music - it's from a 1921 recording by the American Symphony Orchestra. All I did was google "Ride of the Valkyries Free Download" and there it was, just sitting there, waiting for me to stumble in. Fabulous!)

Cheers, Joan.