Twisted Tax Tales

Twisted Tax Tales

Nice email this morning from Down Under informing me the '
Twisted Tax Tales' book will be out shortly. It said it had taken longer than anticipated to format the book and anyone who's done any formatting of books understands this feeling. It's a book of the shortlisted stories from a competition run last year by the Australian tax and accountancy firm 'Success Tax Professionals'.

Looking forward to receiving my copy when the boat from Australia comes in.

Twisted

This afternoon I managed to type up an Angry Hourglass entry I wrote yesterday; yes, wrote it with a pen on paper and then typed up. Makes a change from typing straight into my laptop. Looks like there will be more entries than last week when I was judging. Good luck to this week's judge, A.V. Laidlaw.
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Flash Judging

Judging: Angry Hourglass 123

Hey, so this time yesterday I was typing up my 'judgement' on last weekend's
Angry Hourglass (the beautifully numbered Week 123). The winner's page is linked here.

I've judged a few times now for several challenges and it always requires a combination of tough decisions, personal choice and involves a little bit of fun. This weekend the photo, as usual from Ashwin Rao, was a train travelling along a curve at dusk/dawn, as ever with AH it brought out high quality from all thirteen of the entrants and it was a tough call.

Ashwin Rao Train


As usual @Fallintofiction cleared of the names and twittery bits so that I could judge the stories blind; I never know who I've picked until after I've sent the results off. Sometimes I have a peek after the results have been emailed other times I wait until the email/tweets start flying to tell me who I've picked.

It always takes a bit more time than you think it will to begin with, but it is an enjoyable job. I'd thoroughly recommend trying a bit of judging whenever you get the opportunity. Whilst you'll get a week off from entering the competition it is nice to see it from the other side. Sometimes you may pick up a few pointers yourself as to where you could improve.

Maybe next time I'll do a proper blog on the process, but for this time may I just give my congratulations to the HMs, the runner up and the winner, namely;

  • Ewan Smith
  • Sal Page (despite not following orders)
  • Mark A. King
  • Firdaus Parves

As ever, a big thanks to
Rebecca the Hazmat for hosting such a wonderful challenge, one that always brings out the best in you writers types. Kudos!

To those who didn't place this time don't sweat it. All the pieces were great. On another day I may have picked some different 'winners' and been totally happy with justifying it too - the quality really is that good. And of course on another week a different judge may have picked a completely different list of winners too. Sometimes what floats one's boat would sink another. You're all stars for having the confidence to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

And lastly, if you haven't given Angry Hourglass a go then check it out. It's open for 36 hours over the weekend for pieces up to 360 words. It's always a high standard but that makes the winning even sweeter and the understanding deeper when you don't.


Keep Writing Folks!

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Reading and Writing Two Weeks In

Reading and Writing and Plans


Reading:

It's only the second half of January but that's like 1/24th of the year right? So I got to get my writing plans sorted soon.

Got some good reading done already this year. First off was '
Galactic Derelict' by Andre Norton. I bought it as much for the cover as it was a gloriously gaudy 1959 paperback. Was well worth the read in any case!

Next up was 'W
eird Ales II' edited by Steve Cotterill (created by Theresa Derwin). I said I'd review it as I was involved in the first volume, writing the introduction. I didn't have any involvement in the this one. A volume of short stories based around bars, pubs and drinks it is a mixed bag of great and not so, but that'll be down to actual personal preference rather than actual quality. Enjoyed the book and posted reviews on both GoodReads and Amazon.

Third up was one of my 'classics' on my aim to read this year list, '
The Tempest' by William Shakespeare. I've not had much experience of reading Shakespeare but enjoyed it and more will be read this year I'm sure. Macbeth next I think.

Last read completed this month so far was Asimov '
Nightfall Two' a selection of short stories which even included a flash fiction piece he'd written live on a TV show. He's a story writer master and every story had great merit and often fab twists. What can you say about the guy. Genius.


Jerusalem


Currently reading '
Jerusalem: a Biography' by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It's a heft hardback which has been on my shelf for a few years now - it was published in 2011 but I'm not sure whether it's been on the shelf that long. I'm about a third of the way through and boy is it packed. Clearly a 2500+ year history crammed into 520 pages means the pace is packed and when it has had such a ridiculously packed and complicated history it feels like a head spinner. Many of the stories of the peoples involved could have been lifted straight off the pages of the Game of Thrones (or the other way around). Any of these sound familiar:

Incest' pouring molten gold onto an enemy to kill them; having a feast for adversaries - then the waiters and kitchen staff clubbing and knifing them into the stew; 'Greek Fire'; matricide; patricide; flip all types of 'cides. In fact other than the lack of dragons I could be reading the GoT. Awe inspiring 'Biography' of the city. Pretty much too much to take it all in!

Only just past the Second Crusade, so let's see how the next 900 years goes.


Writing:

I've listed a few things I want to write this year on previous blog entries - bigger pieces than flash. But so far I have not firmed up what to start with. So far this year - other than a little preparation for one of my projects - I've just done some
flash fiction.

Lucky enough to get runner up in
Angry Hourglass last week, which was a nice surprise. Later last week I did an entry for Thursday Threads for the first time in many months (okay probably over a year) and on Friday I wrote a quick entry for Microcosms and again did a piece for Angry Hourglass on Saturday. So a fair bit of flash there then!

I think I'm
judging Angry Hourglass next weekend. So less flash options next week. Maybe, just maybe I'll be putting together something for one of my projects.


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2017 Writing Plans

Writing in 2017

Okay, I've set some reading goals for the year, so what about my
writing goals?

IMG_4884 2

In the past I've set goals like winning the Flash Fiction Friday or Angry Hourglass challenges, this year I'm going to aim to do a few more substantial things (that is to say of more words). Not that I'll be avoiding Flash! of course. I'll still be doing Angry Hourglass and Microbookends as often as I can.

Nothing concrete planned as yet, but thinking along the lines of;

  • self publishing a book (possibly non-fiction)
  • submitting to a magazine or podcast (maybe EscapePod or Clarkesworld)
  • writing a short screen or radio play (never attempted this before)
  • planning and beginning a novel or novella

Not sure yet about editing the story I did for NaNoWriMo - with all the above I may be a bit too busy.

Will see how the plans go er... after I've firmed up said plans! Watch this space...
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2017 in Reading

Planned Reading in 2017

So I've set myself a target of reading
40 books in 2017, but which books will they be?

I'm planning on continuing through my shelves picking off books I've bought but not got to yet and there will be plenty of SF and non-fiction stuff too. Of course the books can't
all be picked now, but a fair few can. Some heavyweights and some lighter ones. It'll be interesting wherever I end up.

To date my 'definite' reads to come include:


Non-Fiction

'White Mughals' - William Dalrymple
'Return of a King' - William Dalrymple
'Jerusalem' - Simon Sebag Montefiore
'One Summer' - Bill Bryson

JerusalemKing

Classics

'Macbeth' - Billy Shakes
'The Tempest' - Billy Shakes
'Something or other' - Charlie Dickens
'Name of the Rose' - Umberto Eco


SF and Fantasy

'Gormenghast' - Mervyn Peake
'The Silmarillion' - Tolkien
'The Golden Compass' - Philip Pullman


GormenshastCompass
Silmarillion



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2016 in Reading

Goodreads and Reading

I've been a member of
GoodReads for four years now and I must say I quite like it. It's not over intrusive in the way Facebook and Instagram are always trying to get in your face. You can look up recommendations based on your reading, but they're not constantly rabbiting at you- which is great.

I do like to see a record of what I've read when. With my memory it's very handy.

Last year I set myself a reasonable target for me of
26 books, a book a fortnight. As it happened I managed 41, which was great- the more reading the better. A nice mix of fiction and non-fiction with of course rather a big nod to SF and fantasy on the fiction side, and ale on the non-fiction (and fiction: Weird Ales).

Books16-1

Unlike recent years the vast majority of the books I read were actually books.
Paper books, off shelves and everything. Had the not unusual idea of perhaps reading some of the untouched or barely started books from my heavy shelves. And it was a cracking idea I must say.

Not sure if any would be classified as 'Classics' I suppose Graham Greene's 'Our Man in Havana', Philip Roth's 'The Plot Against America' and Primo Levi's 'Periodic Table' could be and perhaps a couple of the Atwood's, but what's a classic anyway?

Books16-2

Two of the books feature your's truly too - Flash Dogs 'Time' and Theresa Derwin's edited 'Weird Ales'. Both thoroughly recommended for other people's stuff at least.

I'm going to pick my
Reading Top 10 from 2016. Why? Well, you do that kind of thing at this time of year, don't you? All of them cracking.

  • 'Imaginary Cities' Darran Anderson
  • 'Cloud Atlas' David Mitchell
  • 'The Plot Against America' Philip Roth
  • 'To Say Nothing of the Dog' Connie Willis
  • 'Oryx and Crake' Margaret Atwood
  • 'Tough Guys Don't Dance' Norman Mailer
  • 'Our Man in Havana' Graham Greene
  • 'Years of Rice and Salt' Kim Stanley Robinson
  • 'The Anti-Death League' Kingsley Amis
  • 'Trigger Warning' Neil Gaiman

Now I've got to look forward to 2017 and the reading ahead. I'm aiming for a similar number of books that I achieved this year (40) and if the reading is half as good as last year's then I'll be very happy.

Happy New Year folks and Happy Reading - whatever you may be getting your head stuck in to!
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