Shona Kinsella Talks World Building

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One of the great things about crowd-funding through Unbound Publishing is that there is a real sense of community amongst the authors. We all keep in touch via a private Face Book group, swap news of achievements and frustrations and give each other tips on all aspects on writing and publishing. Sometimes we even meet up, as a few of us did at Unbound’s fifth birthday party in November. They’re a great bunch and today one of them is the first guest contributor to this blog. Shona Kinsella, who has just released her brilliant fantasy novel Ashael Rising, gives some tips on world-building that are very useful for writers of any kinds. Personally, I’m a pantser that stops halfway through for a bit of obsessive map drawing!

Approaching World-Building by Shona Kinsella

One of the most enjoyable and challenging parts of writing fantasy is the world-building. There are fantasy writers who spend years creating a world before they feel ready to write a story set there. They have maps, detailed histories, notes of the flora and fauna and knowledge of political factions in every country – but they don’t have a book.

I’m very different from this. I’m what is sometimes known as a pantser (as in flying by the seat of the pants) although the term I prefer is discovery writer. What this means is that I discover the story, and the world, as I write.

When I sat down to write Ashael Rising, I knew very little about KalaDene. In fact, it didn’t even have a name until the third draft or so. My world-building was all done as I went along. I once heard an excellent description of the process; it explains just what it feels like to me so I’m going to share it here. World-building is like walking through a tunnel (the world) with a torch (the story) so I can see as much of the world as the story shines a light on and a little bit around the edges but everything else is just fuzzy shapes in the darkness, with maybe a puff of cool air indicating that there might be a door to somewhere else off to the left.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. For example, sometimes I could spend most of a day’s writing time trying to figure out how the limits to the magic system worked or whether the climate I’ve described would support the plants that I have my characters eating. That’s not a particularly efficient use of my time and would not have come up had I built my world in advance. On the other hand, people who have created an entire world before writing a book will often find that they have wasted time in building details that they do not need for the book – time that could have been spent writing.

It also means that I made substantial changes between my first and second drafts, tightening up world-building details, as well as improving the plot, and fitting in things that I changed or introduced over the course of writing the first draft. My understanding is that this is common for discovery writers while people who have plotted and world-built in advance will often have something close to the finished work at the end of their first draft. This probably balances out though – they spend the time up front, before they start writing, and I spend it at the other end.

One of the things that I like about my approach is the massive amount of flexibility it gives me. If I find myself inspired by something I see on a nature documentary (something that happens more often than you might think) I generally have space to work it into my world somewhere. I already have a few notes to myself about elements I’d like to fit into book two.

The only major drawback that I’ve experienced is that, since I make things up as I go along, I have no idea what will end up being important and I must try and keep the elements of an entire world straight in my head – something the planners don’t have to do. I have taken to keeping a world-building file open while I write, somewhere to make notes of characters that I’ve introduced, plants that I’ve made up along with their uses, distances between places and so on. The thing is, I’m pretty bad at actually updating the file. While I’m writing, I’m too involved in the story to keep stopping and starting and switching files. More than once I’ve found myself having to search back through the text to check how I spelled something a few chapters ago or whether or not I said a particular plant was poisonous or what someone’s name is. Again, not the most efficient use of my time. Still, efficient or not, it is the way that works for me and it’s the way I’ll continue to work for the time being.

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T2 – not so much lager, lager shouting as a gin and slimline.

We went to the pub first, a proper grown up pub after dark. It wasn’t so much lager, lager shouting as a gin and slimline with demob happy parents crowded around a table chatting. ‘What are you two talking about?’ my husband asked me and my friend. ‘Shopping!’ we replied in unison. We were out to see T2 on the first night, a little apprehensive that it would be shite but unable to keep away.  Memories of the good times filled our heads, all the years spent clubbing, partying and pointlessly putting the world to rights in late night conversations.  It can’t be twenty years can it? It is and we’ve all gotten older. This is what T2 is primarily about. It brims with dewy-eyed nostalgia.

I really enjoyed it. I realise it’s got quite a niche audience, it probably won’t play well to people who weren’t there for the first one, but luckily for me I am a part of that niche. It’s funny and stylish and it does take you back. T2 is a very good movie but it isn’t as great a movie as Trainspotting. It doesn’t sum up a generation, unless that generation is the one pushing fifty and they all feel like there is nothing to look forward to. I’m not the sort of person who thinks everything was better in the past. At one point in the film Veronika, the middle-aged man’s fantasy tart with a heart, says to Mark and Simon (as they are known as grown-ups) ‘You live too much in the past.’  She’s so right, it is too much, the flashbacks, the music, Jonny Lee Miller’s hair, the choose life monologue redux. It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling but somehow it lacks in the punch that made the original so brilliant. There’s a scene where Mark, Simon and Daniel return to the spot in the countryside their now dead friend Tommy took them for a walk twenty years ago. It’s supposed to be a heart wrenching moment but as Simon eloquently puts it, ‘I’m not feeling it.’ There is nothing in this film to match the horror of the scene where Renton cooks up after the baby is found dead in her cot. Walking up a hill in memory of a character that died twenty years ago felt a bit distant.

At the end of the original you really felt for them, the desperation and fear that led to the act of betrayal and the ones that were left behind. I didn’t really care what happened to any of them in this one, not even Veronika and I know I was supposed to. T2 is more like an old fashioned caper movie than a film with anything real to say, like The Italian Job but with swearing and heroin. It’s a laugh though, just don’t expect too much.

I am a writer struggling to find an agent and one thing that really annoyed me about the film was the silly addition of Spud writing the original book as a memoir in his forties. Good luck with that pal, a memoir?! Who’s going to publish that? The original book was described as a nonlinear collection of short stories in Edinburgh dialect with multiple points of view, despite this when it came out in 1993 everyone on the tube was reading it, the grey skulls cover was all you could see, and the same again when the film was released 3 years later. Imagine a major publisher taking on such a thing today? There are no gone girls or dead men in sight, it wouldn’t get past the slush pile, as both Welsh and Danny Boyle have acknowledged in recent interviews. That would have been a great shame; an era-defining film would never have existed. It does make you wonder what we have been missing out on in these times of risk averse publishing?

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I will be chairing a panel about the lack of risk taking in traditional publishing and the alternative routes available at the Write by the Beach Conference in Brighton on April 1st.

Short Stories and World Peace

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2016 sucked didn’t it? The EU vote, Jo Cox,Trump, Syria, celebrity deaths, the whole world took a beating. The future, as they say, is uncertain. As we approach the end of the year I’m feeling reflective. At the beginning of 2016, I had completed a collection of short stories about fame (Fifteen Minutes) but had no agent or publisher in sight. I half-heartedly tried a couple of small presses and agents and barely got a reply. Short stories don’t sell, they’re just not popular, blah blah blah. This year’s Man Booker Prize had a book of short stories on it, All That Man Is by David Szalay. It’s a great collection. They pretended it was a novel but it wasn’t, it was even less of a novel than the Pulitzer prize-winning A Visit From The Goon Squad, having only the merest connection in the first and last stories and nowhere else. The stories are about men at various stages of life but that’s a pretty broad theme in my view. In addition to the obvious collection of short stories, six of the thirteen short-listed authors had previously published short story collections. I’m telling you this because in 2016 I was continually frustrated by the lack of credit given to short fiction writers and their books. I’ve ranted about this before so I won’t again, but personally it felt like I was having to jump through a lot more hoops to get an agent to look at my work than most other writers do, simply because of the form I am compelled to work in.

February offered a solution, a friend told me about the crowd-funding publisher Unbound. I submitted my collection and by March it had been selected for publication. You can find out about my crowd-funding journey in previous blog posts, suffice to say it was hard work but it wasn’t as hard as getting an agent to read my manuscript. By the end of June I was fully funded, some of the people pledging support were complete strangers, so short stories can’t that unpopular after all.

I find myself thinking about other achievements. This year I co-directed a writers’ conference with The Beach Hut Writing Academy called Write By The Beach and it was so successful we’re doing it again next year. In fact you can buy early bird tickets now. I’m going to be hosting a panel discussion about alternative publishing methods with Sarah Rayner Unbound, Bookoutre and Urbane Publishing.

The Brighton Prize, of which I am a co-director, doubled its number of entries and opened to flash fiction and international writers.

I vastly cut down on the number of submissions I made, selecting only a handful of writing competitions and was shortlisted in three out of four, achieving my long-held ambition of being included on The Manchester Fiction Prize shortlist.

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I had articles published on writing method and crowd-funding tips and even found a home for my story Sourdough which, after being short-listed for The Writers & Artists Yearbook Award, failed to get a publisher for nearly five years.

I applied for two jobs, was interviewed for both, and failed to get the posts. It was very, very close they said. I’m still mentoring writers though, through Creative Future and privately, and this is very, very rewarding.

Fifteen Minutes has been through a professional editing process with Unbound and has now been submitted for a copy edit. Soon I’ll have a cover and then it will be published. I never dreamed I’d be able to say that at the beginning of the year.

I went to America on a family road trip, pre-election, when we thought there might still be a chance that Trump would fail, and managed to visit the places I had planned to put in my next collection (I’m calling it a novel by the way so let’s see what happens).

I’ve done so much personally and yet I feel a bit flat, a bit disappointed. I wonder if it’s because there’s very little financial reward for what I’m doing, and if this makes me feel like it isn’t important? I wonder if it’s because the contempt with which short fiction writers are regarded by the UK publishing industry is getting me down? Or if it’s a more general disconnect from a world that can vote for Brexit and Trump? It feels like I’m tantalisingly close to something that then moves away again. I’ll snap out of it.

My wish for next year is that the form I have chosen to work in gets the credit it deserves and that publishers stop repeating the mantra that short story collections don’t sell and try selling them instead. That and world peace, trains that run on time, an end to this selfish right wing nonsense that seems to have engulfed the world, some gin and a box of chocolates – it’s not much to ask, is it? Happy Christmas everyone!

From Twitter Tale To Novel

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It’s been a long summer and I’ve been quietly working behind the scenes. You’ll be pleased to know that my collection has been edited, with immensely helpful input from Unbound, and is as a result a much better book. It also has a new title. Gone is the over long full Warhol quote; the book will now be published as Fifteen Minutes. The editing was an interesting process. A lot of the stories had already been professionally edited but, in my experience, things can always be improved on. The copy of my first novel that I take to readings has writing all over it where I’ve added or cut things from the printed text and that was published five years ago! A book is never finished but hopefully this collection is now at its best. I am very happy with the editorial decisions made so far. Sometimes I kept things the way there were, simply out of gut instinct, anyway between us we’ve come up with something I am extremely proud of. I can’t wait for you to read it. People keep asking me when and the answer is ‘soon’. The book has been sent for copy editing, which I am told takes about 3 weeks and then – who knows? But it will be soon and I will keep you informed every step of the way. Even though the book is 100% funded there is still time to support it. If you love short stories and think they should get their due credit in the publishing world please pledge via Unbound you will help raise the profile of the short story and get your name listed in the book as a supporter.

In the meantime, one of the stories has been published in a much redjuced form in a beautiful little book called Tales On Tweet. This is the origin of the story Ruby of the Desert. The full story has also been shortlisted for Huddersfield University’s Grist competition and will appear in their anthology early next year. I’ve also been working on the idea of turning it into a novel. Tales On Tweet is a Twitter account by Indian writer Manoj Pandey. A couple of years ago they asked for 140 character stories, this year they chose a bookfull to be illustrated and published by Harper Collins India. There are stories by Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Teju Cole and lesser mortals like me. It was quite hard to get hold of a copy, the first one didn’t arrive and I had to turn to Amazon Marketplace to get one. The book is gorgeous and wise and each tale is illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, a Japanese Illustrator based in New York. I love my page (even though, or perhaps because, they spelled my name wrong!) I love how it sums up the tale by creating the heat of a diner kitchen and the passage of time through the sheer number of teabags. Does the waitress win the lottery? I think your answer to that says more about your personality than mine.

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How To Crowdfund A Book

We did it! Me as the writer and 203 literature lovers raised enough money to crowdfund a book of short stories that would otherwise not be published. The deadline for In The Futrue Everyone Will Be Famous For Fifteen Minutes from Unbound Publishing was officially June 22nd but we reached 100% on June 18th. You will notice I keep saying ‘we’, this is because, after the inital posting about the campaign, crowdfunding this book has always been a collaborative project. Crowdfunding relies on word of mouth, on the sharing of information, responses to calls for help, suggestions from friends, family and colleagues about how to achieve the goal, from little pep talks about failure to handing out flyers. I honestly could not have done this without the help of my supporters.

It hasn’t been easy. It has probably been the hardest thing I have done since I started this writing lark, mainly because it hasn’t been about writing. Crowdfunding is about marketing, pure and simple.  I have barely written any fiction in the last four months. I have written articles for websites, journals and blogs. I have written countless tweets, Facebook and Linkedin posts but I have written only one short story. It has been hard because I am not a natural marketeer. I’m used to writing about imaginary things every day. At the beginning it was easier, as actually getting funded seemed a bit pie in the sky anyway, a fantasy, raise £3,500? Are you nuts?

There are highs and lows in this process. If it is something you are thinking about doing I offer you a few tips.

Prepare in advance; have the promo video ready to go, write a stack of copy about the project that can be submitted to journals and websites, open a Hootsuite account and learn how to use it. I did none of this until I was already into the project and, as a result of this lack of planning, my campaign became a full time job while I learned what I should have known before I started. You should always have a plan! How many times has that been said this week in Brexit Britain?

Strategically placed personal emails work wonders. You need one mailout at the beginning, one at the middle and one at the end. I used this model for friends and professional contacts. I only got one slightly unhinged complaint (how dare you send a begging letter! I hope the project fails!) most people are happy to ignore what they don’t want to be involved in but a lot of people who intend to support you will need a gentle reminder or two to do so. Don’t be scared, be polite and present them with the opportunity, because that’s what it is, it’s not a begging bowl it’s a request for collabortation.

If you have anything else to give, offer it as a pledge. Someone else at Unbound has offered to stop talking about their project for £3,000! I offered short story appraisals and manuscript mentoring. This was something I could easily do and it proved to be very lucrative. I am forever grateful to the person who pledged for the mentoring because it boosted the project by about 10% in one go. After hundreds of tweets about the short story appraisals 5 were sold and another 10% was raised. I am also very grateful to a Twitter friend who suggested that pushing these options would raise the money faster – see what I mean about collaboration!

Write a press release and send it out locally. I got a short film made about the project by Brighton’s local TV station, Latest TV, as a result of a press release. This meant I had a ready made promo to share and resulted in a large number of pledges. I also used the press release (tailored for individuals) to propose articles in trade journals and short story websites. The take up on article proposals was around 50/50. You need to research who publishes what and pitch accordingly.

Make public appearances. Go to spoken word events. Hand out leaflets in town. Approach the local radio. Do whatever comes your way no matter how small. It is never a waste of time and it may just net you a couple of supporters.

At around 40% I thought I’d never do it but it was a great feeling watching the pie chart on my Unbound page fill and change from green to orange as the last pledges rolled in. In the words of Kate Bush – don’t give up!

Fully Funded!

The Greatest

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It is Saturday morning and I have woken to the news of Muhammad Ali’s death. The TV and radio are full of iconic clips and interviews. My short story collection is fast becoming a book of the dead. Many of the celebrities in it are no longer with us.

There is a story in it about Ali. It was one of the first sucessful stories I ever wrote, unexpectedly runner up in a competition and published in an Australian literary journal. It is about a boxer with Alzheimer’s and the doctor treating him. The doctor remembers being taken to see Cassius Clay fight Henry Cooper in 1963 when he was a little boy. My Dad loved Muhammad Ali and the story is inspired by his own difficult descent into dementia. Even now I can remember watching the Parkinson interview with Ali in the 1970s and my Dad explaining why it was so important. I couldn’t have been any more than six or seven years old. The story is about memory more than anything, but it is also about witnessing an early victory from an individual who would go on to change the world. Ali became the most famous man on the planet and the doctor in my story never forgets seeing him in a moment of transformation – becoming the butterfly.

I did think that the celebrities in my  book were all perfunctory to the main characters but, in some cases, they prove to be a catalyst for change.  Ali, Bowie and Andy Warhol all influence the characters for the better and actually set them onto a path of becoming something else. Celebrity culture is not all bad. It’s funny how you can think you are writing one thing when actually you are writing something else. The influence some people have on the world goes beyond celebrity, they transcend sport or art or music and change humanity for the better.

Earlier this week I was interviewed by The Short Story and the resulting article explains quite a lot about In The Future Everyone Will Be Famous For Fifteen Minutes. Please share with anyone you think might be interested.

If you know anybody who is looking for a creative writing mentor, or anyone who would like to take part in a workshop, I am offering these as pledging options. We are so close!

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Unbound Diary Part 11 – Almost There!

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A lot has happened since I last blogged here. I was stuck around the 45% mark for what seemed like an eternity, thinking that I was never going to get this thing funded. Last week I had a conversation with a Twitter friend, the fab short story writer Safia Moore, who not only pledged to the book but suggested that the pledge options I should be pushing were the ones for large sums, the short story appraisals and mentoring packages. She pointed out that I am the director of a short story prize, have been short-listed in a few myself, and am a tutor! She is of course right on all counts. It’s funny how when you are in the middle of something you can’t see it for what it is. I started pushing these options on social media and so far someone has pledged for £400 of mentoring and four people have pledged for short story appraisals. I suddenly find myself 81 % funded, so thank you Safia for reminding me of what I have to offer!

If you keep getting nowhere when sending out short story submissions, or entering competitions, perhaps you could do with a little help from the director of a prize, who has been published in Riptide and The Manchester Review and short-listed for The Bristol and Fish prizes. I am an experienced tutor, mentor and editor with an MA (dist) in Creative Writing and an acclaimed novel.

On offer as part of crowdfunding for In The Future Everyone Will Be Famous For Fifteen Minutes are:

Short Story Appraisal up to 5,000 words with full edit and notes – £100

Mentoring,  4 face to face sessions (skype, email or phone for those too far away) up to 20,000 words with full edit and notes. This can be part one manuscript or several short stories. £400

2 hour Short Story Workshop for 5 people (South East and possibly Yorkshire) £200

These packages are offered at a much lower price than my usual rate and at a much lower price than most literary consultancies. Not only will they greatly benefit your writing but you will facilitate the publication of a book of short stories that would not otherwise be published.

You could of course just prove all the people who think short stories aren’t worth publishing wrong and pledge £10 in support of the book. You will be a patron of the arts and I am so very grateful that so many of you have already done so.

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Unbound Diary Part 10 – I’m Trying To Prove The Popularity Of The Short Story

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It’s been quite a week. I could see that I was getting towards the deadline for raising funds for my short story collection In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes. It felt like I was stalled at the 40% mark and that I would never get enough support for the project to go ahead. I couldn’t really see what to do but I knew that I didn’t want this opportunity to slip away. In the last few weeks I have done events, sent out emails and press releases, written blog posts and had stories from the book published in journals and still there were only a handful of responses. I was very grateful to each and everyone of those new pledgers but I needed more. I decided it was time to change tactics. Over the last few days I have spent 6 hours a day solidly marketing. I have contacted every journal and short story organisation I could find and asked for their help. To my surprise the answer has  almost always been yes. One editor replied within minutes with the opening line, ‘Hi Erinna – you’ve come to the right place!’ I was so grateful I could have cried. In the next few weeks I have articles coming out on Women Writers, The Short Story, Thresholds and Short Stops as well as guest posts on the blogs of friends and colleagues. The first of these is out today on Laura Wilkinson’s blog and she has cleverly called it In The Future Will Everyone Be Crowdfunding?

Last Friday morning I’d just got in from the school run when I took a phone call from Latest TV , in response to a press release I’d sent out a couple of weeks ago, could they come around in an hour to film me? I looked around my extremely messy house in horror but obviously I agreed. Creatives aren’t meant to be tidy, right? The film was posted on their Youtube channel on Tuesday and it has been an absolute godsend. It really represents what the book is about, how celebrity culture is everywhere and that this is not necessarily a good thing, and that one of the aims of the crowdfunding project is to draw attention to the lack of support given to the short story by UK agents and publishers. (When I write this in any article the editors always tell me I have to say ‘most UK agents and publishers’ but you know what, fuck it, this is my blog, and I want to go on the record as saying that this is true of 99.9999% of all UK agents and publishers!) I have set the film up to post on a loop on Twitter and Facebook with the buy-line ‘I’m trying to prove the popularity of the short story,’ and it’s getting quite a lot of attention as well as bringing me new pledgers. I am going to use the film as the basis for the campaign over the next couple of weeks. As of today I am at 58% and it really feels like I’m going to make it. I still need people to pledge so if you love short stories and think that they should get more attention from publishers please pledge to this collection.

Latest TV video

 

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Unbound Diary Part 9 – Reading Aloud

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I’m nearly 9 weeks in to my crowdfunding project for my book of short stories on fame, In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes. I’m going to be doing a few spoken word events in the next few days and. as a director of one (Rattle Tales), I thought I might give a few pointers about how to read to an audience. If you are a writer, at some point, you will have to do this in order to get your work seen. Even when you are a seasoned Booker Prize-winning author you still have to read your work to audiences. It may seem like the antithesis of everything else you do (ie, sitting at a desk writing down weird scenes from your imagination) but it’s just the way it is.

Practice. I use reading aloud as part of the editing process anyway. After I have finished a section of work, I will read it out to myself. I will often stand up to do this or even walk about. This exercise is invaluable for locating the dead pieces of writing, the weasel words, unnecessary punctuation, missed punctation and for providing a flow to your words. I urge you to add this to your writing method. If you are reading a piece at an event always read it out to yourself several times first. Make alterations to the piece that arise from this exercise then read it again. If you can bear it, read it to a couple of people you trust. If you do this enough times you will almost know the piece off by heart.

Eye Contact. If you know the piece off by heart you will be able to make more eye contact with the audience. Look up from you paper occassionally, pause for dramatic effect, address your words to them. I don’t mean stare creepily at one person, in fact if you look at a point just at the top of their heads the audience will get the impression you are looking at them without feeling uncomfortable about it. Smiling helps too and don’t forget to introduce yourself or at least say hello.

The Shakes. All authors get the shakes from time to time. Nobody notices. I have spoken to many first time readers who thought the audience was distracted by their shaking hands or legs. My right leg used to shake uncontrollably when I read. No one ever mentioned it; in fact people said I didn’t seem nervous at all. I have also seen famous authors at big festivals trembling so much their papers rustle. No one minds, they just want to hear the famous author read. If you are uncomfortable with your shaking hands put your pages in a lever file or on a clip-board. Rattle Tales provides a music stand. Sometimes nerves help the piece, I’ve cried at the end of a story and had loads of people come up to me and say what an impact it had because it was heartfelt. Try and keep it together til the last sentence though!

Slow Down. Most people read too fast. Nerves make you speed up, make you want to get it over with. My advice is read it to yourself at your normal pace and then slow it down a notch for the event, relish in the pauses, emphasise the important sentences, take your time over the dialogue. You might want it to be over quickly but the audience want to take it all in. Most spoken word events asks for no more than 2,000 words. This is because after about ten minutes an audiences’ attention wanders no matter how good the tale or the reader. If you are reading an extract bear this in mind, don’t rush to fit longer pieces in.

Acting is for Actors. You are not an actor, well, you might be, but in this case you are a writer. To listen to your story the audience doesn’t need the full Meryl Streep. They don’t want a cast of characters with different accents all competing for attention like a multiple personality disorder. Do appropriate accents by all means but don’t shout as if you are projecting at the Theatre Royal and keep the showing off to a minimum.

I will be putting all this into practice at Exeter Street Hall on Friday May 13th with nine other fabulous Brighton writers who are all members of The Beach Hut Writers. We will be talking about everything from how to get published to how to cope at spoken word events. The genres include, crime, noir, literary fiction, women’s fiction, self help, cookery and diet books and childrens fiction, so there is literally something for everyone.

Writers in the hall

May 26th is the date of Rattle Tales Brighton Fringe show hosted by the fabulous Lonny Pop. We have just finalized the programme and there are some amazing stories on the bill from a huge variety of authors. I will be reading a short story (Sourdough)from In The Future which was the story I read at the first Rattle Tales show five years ago. I don’t expect to be as nervous as I was then. Tickets are available at Brighton Fringe Box Office and they usually go fast!

If you think that short stories deserve a bit more attention from publishers please plegde to my collection because that’s what I’m trying to prove. In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes will only be published by Unbound if I get enough pledges. You don’t have to be from the UK and you don’t have to have a Kindle. There are just 3 weeks left to show your support.

Rattle Tales 2016 Fringe 2

Unbound Diary Part 8 – A Medieval Knight With An I-phone

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As I write I am 44% funded. This means that well over a hundred of you have supported my book. To my new supporters I want to say a massive thank you, you are making this happen. I have until the end of May to reach 198 pledges, it’s time to take it up a notch.

Regular readers will know that I am a Director of the spoken word group Rattle Tales. We have a show coming up at Brighton Fringe Festival and we’re selecting stories for it now. Last night I had a dream that only five people turned up to our show. Our previous Fringe shows have all been sold out, sometimes we’ve had to turn people away, and the show has been a Pick of the Fringe by The Independent newspaper. It’s extremely unlikely that no one will turn up. In my dream not only did no turn up but I forgot my story and when I tried to phone home to get someone to bring it to me my i-phone snapped in two, the venue staff were busy jousting in the back garden and the only person in the bar was a medieval knight dressed in crusader armour – he didn’t know what an i-phone was.

I’ve been trying to analyze this dream all day. I think it’s to do with the event I did recently to an audience of seven. It’s definitely to do with asking people to pledge to my collection and most of them resembling a medieval knight with no knowledge of i-phones when asked. Lots of people have said they are happy to help and will definitely pledge but then don’t. Some people have been very affronted to be asked. In response to a recent mail-out through Rattle Tales one person accused us of begging and hoped the project failed. You can just ignore the request you know, or just say no. I’m not begging. I’m asking you to choose to buy a book in advance, in much the same way as you would choose to buy a book in a book shop – you don’t have to but you might want to. The same mail-out brought me ten new pledgers and for that I am very grateful

I have a few events coming up and I really hope that a. people will come and b. some will pledge to the book. I will be appearing at Exeter Street Hall on May 13th with lots of other Beach Hut Writers, ten in fact, all talking about the when, why and what of writing for a living. I’m also going to talk at Brighton University on May 10th with the author of Belonging,  Umi Sinha, and Vicky Blunden from Myriad Editions and then I will be reading Sourdough (recently published by New London Writers) from In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes at the Rattle Tales show on May 26th. Please come along to any or all – don’t leave me alone with the medieval knight.

For the rest of the week I will be sending out press releases, pitching articles and generally trying to get my book notice in the hope of attracting more pledges. Thanks again to my new supporters – you really are making a difference!

Knight