an unscheduled interruption to normal service

I'm an errant poster, at best, but my errancy may reach daft levels for the next week or two: I'm changing broadband providers and may well be offline for up to ten days.  I've got the shakes just contemplating such a future.  I'll have my phone of course, but that's more for reading than it is for writing - verifying my NaNoWriMo wordcount (assuming I complete it!) is a task that worries me - if you live in south Manchester, you may run across me roaming the streets with my laptop under my arm, looking for free wifi.  Anyway, this is my adieu until O2 get their asses in gear and reconnect us.  So long, BT, you useless, useless bastards.

Consequences! National Short Story Week 2010

Well!  This week is the UK's inaugural National Short Story Week, which of course is excellent and brilliant and all that.  The bloggers have been hard at it, recommending stories and writers to their readers (see Nik's Blog for some goodies) and there's been all sorts of events and things - see the website for details.  My recommendations right now would be Tom Vowler's very recent collection, The Method, and Jo Cannon's new book, out since last Saturday, Insignificant Gestures (more on that soon enough when she'll pop over here to be interviewed!).  Check them both out - lovely people and brilliant writers.

Also!  I was massively thrilled to be invited to take part in a short story challenge for Short Story Week - a small bunch of UK writers were asked to contributes 100-150 words to a collaborative story entitled Consequences.  The whole thing was put together this week, and here it is, in all its glory!  I'm so flattered to have been invited to take part, alongside luminaries like Tania Hershman and Sarah Salway, so hurray!  I'm having pre-work ice-cream to celebrate right now.  See if you can guess who wrote which bit...

new excuses and an update

New excuses for lack of posting:

Nanowrimo.  Though that's an old excuse.  I'm a little behind right now, though perhaps (ha!) Ill catch up tonight; otherwise it's been very full-on.  I'm up to about 32k in my seat-of-the-pants novel rewrite, and some good ideas have popped up in the midst of the all the panicky daft ones.  I'm making notes as I go, too, and I'm happy with my progress.  This was never going to be a long-long-long novel, and I think I'll have a reasonable working wordcount by the time I get to the end of this.  Less than two weeks to go!

Bookmunch.  I've been sneakily in charge of this for a couple of weeks while the real Mister Bookmunch is away.  I haven't gone totally mad with the power yet, but there's still time.  Let's all monitor the situation, shall we?

Reading. I've been slush-pile sifting for a story competition, and it's been very interesting so far (lots left to do); there's nothing like reading story after story after story after story to help you get a sense of what works and what doesn't work, what's overused, what's cliched, what's somebody's personal hobby-horse rather than an interesting story idea.  It's kind of eaten up all my evenings, but I love it.  I'd adore to be paid to read stuff for an actual job.

Well, there's the excuses, and now for the update:  I totally left you dudes hanging last week, didn't I?  Last time I was about to get my MA results; this time, I have my MA results!  And I passed the thing with a Distinction - hooray! I don't think the marks on these things really matter much (easy for me to say, now I'm sitting pretty, I know) because a grade isn't going to get me a publication deal or get the book finished.  But for a details-obsessed control freak like myself, it's a tick off the List, and I'm very happy.  And my classmates all did really well too, and a round of applause for them, please!  All's well that ends well, and all the rest.  And now, Will Smith's on TV, and then it's NaNo and slush and dinner and bed.  See y'all next time.

Antonio Tabucchi review

My review of Antonio Tabucchi's Periera Maintains is live on Bookmunch.

MA results (almost)

Today is the day we get our MA results.  At least, from five pm today, we can log onto the university system and pick up our grades - on Monday we can go in person to campus and collect the actual dissertation plus feedback.  I'm working this afternoon and won't be home until about ten pm, so radio silence in the meantime can be equated to ignorance and rising panic; by bed-time, I'll either be very annoyed or very happy.  Either way, I'm sure I'll feel pretty deflated, and by Monday, it'll all seem faintly silly and irrelevant.  Here's hoping.

In the meantime, huge good luck wishes to all my classmates!

Sharp Sticks, Driven Nails review

My review of Sharp Sticks, Driven Nails, a short story anthology edited by Philip Ó Ceallaigh, is live on Bookmunch.

a week of rage

So the evil, heartless, cyclist-hating bastards that call themselves 'insurers' refused to pay out for my poor, stolen bicycle.  I spent Friday in a fuming knot of intense rage, until my mother kindly stepped in to help me out so that I wouldn't have a heart attack or a stroke or forfeit next month's rent in favour of a metal frame and a couple of wheels.  So now I'm back on the roads and somewhat less angry (just my usual level of ordinary arsiness remains).

Anyway, I forgot to link to my last Manchester Literature Festival blog post, so here it is - a write-up of John Siddique's poetry reading in the Manchester Art Gallery.  And, right, here's a great article by Anne Enright on Irish short story writers.  Finally, week one of NaNoWriMo is almost done, and so far I'm on target - of course, I was on target at this point last year too, so that's no guarantee of success.  Never mind - one day at a time.    

You all know how I love to rant

I haven't been updating this blog as frequently as I'd like.  Here's a set of excuses:

(1) NaNoWriMo.  So far, so good on that front.  I'm a bit behind on today's wordcount, but I was ahead yesterday, so it balances.  The main thing is the each chapter is being sketched out, albeit in horrible, nasty, rough and shameful forms.  The blank pages are getting filled so that (cross your fingers) the real work (editing) can begin next month.  I prefer editing.  I vastly prefer editing.  The first draft is an awful splurge that makes me want to die.  Normally I edit as I go, making the writing a slow, inch-along process, but I think with the novel I have to blast out a complete  version, or else I get too hung up on the early chapters - to come extent, this is what slowed me down on the MA.  That, and a certain silliness in the plot.  Anyway, it's coming along, and taking up a few hours every day.  How are you guys getting along?

(2) Large amounts of rage.  My bike was stolen again; I've been phoning the insurance people constantly, and filling in all sorts of ridiculously detailed forms.  How did the thieves get into your building?  I don't know!  If I knew, I might have been able to do something about it!  I'm not in bloody cahoots with the bastards. Sigh.  They'll tell me soon if they'll pay out, and if they won't, well, I know where their offices are and there might be havoc. I only work part-time - Ive got hours to kill each day that could be spent nanowrimo'ing, OR could be spent harassing insurance fuckers.  Anyway, in the meantime I've been distracted by unhealthy levels of anger and long stints of googling replacement bikes.  Again.  2010 is the Year of the Bike Thief Wanker.

Those are my excuses; now, onto the self-promotion!  The Bridport shortlist was published last weekend:  one of my flashes was shortlisted (yay!) and my writing friend and colleague, Claudia Abbot, was awarded a supplementary prize in the short story section.  Double yay! And my twitter pal, Kirsty Logan, came third!  So celebrations all round.  Plus the Bugged book got a mention in the news and my Bristol Prize story got printed in the latest issue of the Bristol Review of Books - the headline of the article was Flash O'Riordan, which I liked.  It makes me sound very dynamic.  Maybe it should be my nom de plume.