So, there it is. 52 097 words completed during Nanowrimo, as of this morning, and as I’ll have no chance to add to them today, I think we can call that a wrap.

The Corpse-Rat King itself is nudging 65 000 words, and Marius don Hellespont has taken his first steps towards redemption, accepting the facts about what he has done in the past and where his life has led him. The narrative is firmly turned towards home, and while there are a few wrinkles to be had along the way, we’re now stepping along the road towards the inevitable climax. All the travelling outwards has been written, now it’s just a matter of bringing everything back towards the single, defining point.

Due to the kids’ party yesterday, and the need to take all our household junk out to the verge for kerbside collection today, I’m having a weekend off. But the 1500 word a day habit begins again tomorrow, so I’m looking towards having a first draft in place by (roughly) the end of the year.

Then we’ll see how much of a fool’s errand this second novel has been…


There are times when having a big backyard and jumbo sized patio makes this house the best investment we’ve ever made.

Yesterday, for example.

Whilst a dozen kids aged between Jack (one) and Cassie (seventeen) rampaged their way back and forth from sandpit to swings to multi-ball brandy to climbing logs and back, we adults who had gathered for Erin and Connor’s joint birthday get together sat around the patio table in relative peace and quiet, quaffing mint juleps and watching the sun set over the cotton fields….. okay, so we had a sausage sizzle and beer and stuff, but it was still good. And Connor and Erin made out like bandits, the lucky doers.

We started the occasion with an influx of friends and family at 11am, and ended it 12 hours later with our in-laws and Cassie & her fiance Mark, who had been unable to get to our place before the evening due to work. We had a brilliant time, and the kids were in kid heaven, so a big thank you to everyone who joined us.

Now to clean up…..


Amongst my students at Clarion South 07, there were a couple of real stand outs. Jason Fischer, who I talk about regularly on this blog, was one. Peter M Ball was another.

When it was mentioned to him that I loathe stories about unicorns, he set out to write one that even I couldn’t object to. The result was a stomach-churning mix of detective noir, gross supernatural sex, maggots and blood. Frankly, I loved it. It was an utter hoot.

Peter went on to publish equally disturbing and wonderful stories, such as The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga in Dreaming Again, and On The Finding of Photographs of My Former Loves in Fantasy Magazine. It was all going so well for him.

And then Twelfth Planet Press announced this week that they had bought a story from him for their new novella line: an expanded version of that unicorn story he had presented to us back in January of 07. Peter even announced that it would see light in the latter half of 2009. And that was why I had to hunt him down and kill him, your honour. Because I couldn’t stand the poor fellw being known as Unicorn Boy his whole life. Because he was such a talented guy, and the readers of this blog, having already seen his above-mentioned work, would go out and buy the novella, and he’d never be able to dress in a fairy costume in public again….

It was a mercy killing.


Cassie’s over, she’s waiting for her fiance to turn up so we can have dinner, she’s doodling idly on a piece of paper.

“Tell me what to draw,” she says.

“A chicken.”

“What, just a chicken?”

“Okay,” I say, kinda concentrating on my own thing and not really paying attention to her. “Solving binomial equations.”

Two minutes later:

This, from the child who will insist she has no appreciable talent whatsoever. Don’t you just want to slap the self-knowledge into her? 🙂


Well, we managed to avoid a watermelon dinner 🙂

Thanks to a concerted campaign from Mummy, the brand-new four year old settled on tacos for tea, and scored himself a whopping great jam doughnut for his dessert. Needless to say, he was pleased with his choices, as were the rest of us– much wolfing down was accomplished.

And see if you can guess what present he loved most– the play-doh and accessory set from the whole family; the two Ben 10 Alien Force figurines (Spidermonkey and Swampfire, I’m told, for those with a need to know. I know them only as ‘the blue one’ and ‘that one looks pretty cool’) from the same source; or the Ben 10 soccer kit his big brother Aiden bought him?

I’ll give you a hint: he’s sleeping with his shinpads on….

I think it’s fair to say he had a good birthday 🙂


When the kids have a birthday, one of the things we do is let them have whatever they want for dinner— doesn’t matter if it’s McDonalds or Chinese or Sizzler or something home cooked, as long as it’s not too outrageous, they get what they ask for. For Aiden’s birthday, went out to our local curry house. For Blake we made pizza pie and home-made wedges, and so on. We asked Connor this morning, fully expecting the answer to be one of pizza, sushi, or McDonalds.

He said ‘pineapple’

He’s said ‘pineapple’ now for just on 5 and a half hours. Until Lyn rang me five minutes ago to say she’d finally, after 5 and a half hours of solid negotiation, managed to get him to change his mind.

Now he wants watermelon……


ME: (Strikes muscle pose): Sixty thousand words!
LYN: How many Nano?
ME: Forty five thousand, eight hundred.
LYN: You’re ahead of me again. It’s so hard to go back and write filler. You’re going to win.
ME: Well, you’re winning the race that actually matters.
LYN: What do you mean?
ME: One novel beats one bit of a novel.


LYN: Well, yeah…

PS: Apocalypso in my pants. Sob….


Over at ASiF, they’ve published another very positive review of The Beast Within. I’ve yet to see a negative review of this anthology, and if you’re at all a fan of the big three (Werewolves, Vampires, Frankensteinian monsters) you really want to add this to your bookshelf.

Were-frogs, people. It has were-frogs.

PS: Face The Face in my pants. Stop it, just fucking stop it…..


The Corpse-Rat King passed the 60 000 word mark tonight. This is a substantial mark for me: Napoleone’s Land ran its course in 78 000 words, (Yes, actually, I still have to do those rewrites and get back to the agent I’ve been avoiding admitting my lack of working on the damn thing to for months, since you ask. Now go and play on the freeway, kid, you’re bothering me) and there’s a lot more land to cover in this one before I start to think about winding it up.

I killed someone tonight: a character who began as a one line throwaway some thousands of words ago but who sat in the back of my mind in such an insistent way that the last part of the story has directly involved him, and who has evolved into a major driver of the narrative. He didn’t even exist in my original visualisation of the story, but like all good characters, once he was given life he refused to just go the hell back into the dark. As a result, he’s moved the story in a much stronger direction than I had originally intended. Therein lay his doom because, in order for the next part of the narrative to resolve itself, he had to go.

And I’m genuinely sad. I liked him, and he was enormously fun to write– a character who grew before my eyes from a lampoon into a fully rounded person, not only conceptually but within the text, so that the reader (I hope) will see his personal growth and respond to it, and will feel some measure of sorrow when he dies. And, you know, it’s me talking, so you know it ain’t gonna be pretty. A writer wants his readers to identify with his characters, but that often means we have to do so first. If we feel pain at a character’s loss, then hopefully it means we’ll have done a good job at passing that pain on to you. Which, when I consider it like that, doesn’t sound like the nicest thing you can do to a pal…

Kill your babies. It’s a central tenet of writing effective fiction. But sometimes you can find yourself being surprised and delighted by one of the little mutant babies at the back of the room, one you really weren’t expecting to pay attention to, but who suddenly learns how to scratch their own name into an etch-a-sketch with one tentacle finger. Then having to put them down bites just that bit harder.

All in a month’s work.

PS: (Nothing But) Flowers in my pants. Oh, it’s going to be hard work to cleanse myself of this meme…..


Okay, it’s another in the endless procession of playlist memes, but this one is bloody funny!

Gakked from musesrealm:

1.) Put your media player of choice on shuffle.
2.) List the first fifteen songs that come up and add “in my pants” to the end.
3.) Bold the ones that actually made you laugh out loud.

1. Johnny The Horse in my pants
2. Stay With Me in my pants
3. Message to My Girl in my pants
4. Girl U Want in my pants
5. Blister In The Sun in my pants
6. Sowing The Seeds of Love in my pants
7. My Sharona in my pants
8. Rocket Man in my pants
9. When Doves Cry in my pants
10. At First Sight in my pants
11. Let There Be Love in my pants
12. I Eat Cannibals in my pants (Oh, the winner and still World Champion…)
13. Forever Autumn in my pants
14. You Shook me All Night Long in my pants
15. A Heady Tale in my pants
16. Who Can It Be Now in my pants (yes, I know that’s an extra one, but seriously, can you leave something that funny off the list?)

Honestly, sometimes these things just write themselves….


I’m working in the office. Aiden is on the couch watching the Foo Fighters Live at Wembley concert film. Suddenly he starts shouting at me to get in here, quick! So I haul in there. It’s the Foo Fighters. I’m not a fan. What am I going to be interested in?

Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones guest spot. Rock and Roll in front of 86 000 screaming fans.

86 000 fans going absolutely apeshit, plus two blokes in Clarkson, plus Dave Grohl bouncing around the stage in absurdly grinning fanboy heaven with the words Look at me, I’m drumming for Led Fucking Zeppelin! appearing above his head in thought bubbles fifty feet high.

Totally. Fucking. Awesome.


A day late, yes, but Real Life (tm) will do that to you.

20 (21) days in to Nanwrimo. Two third of the way through. If I’m to be on track for completing 50 000 words by month’s end, I need to have written 35 000 words by now.

So: How’s it all going?

As of tonight, it’s going 41 339 words of froody, thanks for asking. The Corpse-Rat King is now 55 500 words long, and we’ve reached the major turning point of the novel. Marius don Hellespont, our (for want of a better word, or indeed, any other word) hero, has had his epiphany, and has set in motion the initial act necessary to drive the narrative towards the climax. I’ve got a good grasp of the next story arc, and this weekend looks to be good for some decent writing hours, thanks to a Tupperware party and two empty evenings.

There’s a long way to go yet– right now, Marius is on the rotting hulk of an ancient warship, a dozen feet under water, with only an animated skeleton formed from the remains of a mad, dead King and his favourite horse for company, and somehow he has to get from there to…. well, I know the ending, but I’d be expecting you to buy the book, eventually….

But there will be redemption; there will be fighting; there will be corpse-robbing; love; fire; a cat called Argo; and very possible a long scene involving a dead thief trying to crap out a giant emerald without having eaten anything for several weeks beforehand…..

Admit it: you’re curious, ain’t ya? 🙂


The Corpse-Rat King passed 50 000 words tonight. Happily, I feel like there’s a hell of a lot of narrative still in front of me: Marius, my protagonist, still has to reach his moment of epiphany, and turn events towards the climax. It’s first draft, which means there will be a lot of fat to trim once I’m editing, but it’s beginning to feel like this story has some real legs.

Next target– the 50 000 words for the month that Nanowrimo aims to achieve, and then see where I am at the 75K mark.


A big happy birthday to my gorgeous niece Zara, whose 6th birthday party I attended with the kids yesterday, where we replaced our bodily fluids with cool drink, battered our internal organs into submission with sugar, and generally ran around like nutbars having three-legged races, pin-the-horn-on-the-unicorn games, and more cool drink.

A fun time was had by all attending Triffbatts. Hope your day was a great one, Z!


Oh, my baking yak.

5561 words today, bring The Corpse-Rat King to just under 50 000 in total, and my Nanowrimo total to a squeak under 35 000. Tomorrow I’ll pass both milestones, but right now I need to get off this office chair before my back gives out totally and I start whimpering like a Nigerian Spam Puppy.*

Whilst I’m not at liberty to discuss details of the plot, or what is yet to come (mainly because I don’t know what’s yet to come), I can tell you that so far I’ve set a village on fire whilst drunk, started a war between two bridges on the same river, sunk a horse-captained warship off the coast of the Dog Crap Archipelago, and had a dead guy receive a handjob from a nine hundred year old island witch.

All in a month’s work.

* Before the hate mail starts, I mean the puppy whimpers, not the non-potential-owner….