Thursday, 30 September 2010

A FREE BOOK, FOLKS

So, as promised, here's your chance to win a copy of the prize-winning The Method and Other Stories before its official publication on November 1st. It's had some great initial reviews, none of which I've had to pay or threaten people for.

All you have to do is leave a comment below and next week I'll pick one at random from some hat-like object, the lucky winner getting a free copy sent their way.

If you don't win, you can order one from the sidebar to the left. The cost covers postage and packing.

Good luck.

Monday, 27 September 2010

INTO THE WORLD WE GO

A few pictures from Tuesday's launch...

About to read, hoping I've not chosen too dark a story.


Book signing. Is that Dan Brown in the foreground, snuck in when nobody was looking?


Laughter, eh? Must be reading a funny one. I hope.


The book's got some wonderful early reviews (thanks, Dad). And to top off a great week, I got engaged as well.

Had a great response for guest bloggers (see below), so watch out for some new faces / voices appearing soon.

As you were.

Friday, 24 September 2010

FANCY A GUEST APPEARANCE?

If any of you would like to appear here as a guest blogger, you’d be very welcome. All subjects considered, but let’s keep it vaguely literary. Why do you write? What annoys you most about the world of publishing? Will books exist as physical entities in twenty years? Review a novel. Have a rant. Go on, you know you want to.

Drop me a note – tomvowler at hotmail dot com – with your proposal.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

THE LAUNCH


The launch went well. Cricket friends behaved themselves despite barely veiled threats to heckle me from the back as I read. The end of the evening is a bit of a blur.

Once the room stopped spinning this morning, I was delighted to find this review.

Monday, 20 September 2010

I'M A WRITER. NEITHER AM I.

(Probably) the first two people to buy my collection emailed me the following comments:

You’re a twisted f*ck, Vowler.

and

I can definitely recommend it. It is extraordinarily entertaining and expertly written, though not for the faint-hearted!

I think I prefer the latter, but the former is a dear friend, and, as he’s mentioned in the acknowledgements, can probably say what he likes.

Anyway, I wanted to talk today about nomenclature. Specifically, when do you call/regard yourself a writer. Speaking personally, it’s not something I like doing, even now, with a book out, a novel doing the rounds with publishers. Despite spending an extraordinary proportion of the last five or six years writing fiction, I still wince a little at that middle-class enquiry: So, What Do You Do? Responses to my confession invariably fall into three categories:

1) Awkward silence, foot shuffling, instant mention of football or the weather.

2) (Probably the most common) Oh, I’m writing book too, or at least I’m thinking about it. I’ve got this great idea…followed by a ten minute description of what is definitely not a good idea.

3) (And this is the one, strangely, I’m most uncomfortable with) Genuine interest, a desire to know about the fickle, absurd world that is writing fiction.

I suppose there are so many remarkable endeavours, selfless pursuits that improve the lives of others, that enrich the world (and some, no doubt, would say art attempts to do this). But there’s still something a little pretentious at announcing you’re a writer, perhaps less so if you’re in gainful employment, writing for the BBC or non-fiction. Perhaps, in an attempt to regard it less affected, I should draw on the words of John Irving, when he says, I’m not an intellectual, I’m a carpenter – I build stories.

I’ve been thinking about all this as a writerly friend has decided to call it a day. After years of utter devotion and commitment, of trying to breakthrough, he’s hanging up his pen and heading off in pursuit of what no doubt will be a sparkling academic career. No longer will he announce himself a writer (and a very good one at that) at dinner parties.

Which probably begs the question: who do we write for? Ourselves, a reader (or, we hope, two or three)? And why? For fame? (I hope not) For fortune? (Good luck) In search of truth? (Back to pretension now).

If you spend most of your time writing, are you a writer, regardless of success or otherwise?

Right, I’m off to dig a shirt out. A book to launch tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

BANG!


I have to confess to not having a clue what happens once the countdown clock in the sidebar there reaches zero. Any thoughts?

Friday, 17 September 2010

NOT FAR FROM PERFECT

I had the pleasure of reading this over the last couple of days. Nik Perring’s delightful collection of 22 short, short stories became a refuge, as it sat by my keyboard, allowing me to dip in whenever the day’s grind took hold. And that’s how I recommend you read it: in the doctor’s surgery, on the bus, during a power cut. Because these wonderfully witty vignettes will quickly whisk you away from life’s mundanity, moving you with their playful and surreal narratives. The tales here are brilliantly timed, often beautiful glimpses of lives we feel may, with the tiniest of tweaks, be our own.

There’s probably a case for making this book compulsory on creative writing courses, to show the aspiring writer what impact can be achieved with brevity, with sparseness - though with no little skill, I should add.

Reading, I was reminded of Jane Gardam – joyous tales that are somehow both poignant and uplifting.

For more about Nik, see here. Not So Perfect is available here.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

SOME BOOKS CAME

There’s a little interview with me over on the Women Rule Writer blog today.

Meanwhile, 120 copies of my collection arrived this morning for the launch next Tuesday. If you can’t wait until then, click on the image of the book in the sidebar, where Salt are doing it with 20% off.

I’ll give away a copy next week; just need a fiendishly difficult question first! Well, it did take me two years to write.

Right, off to chop some logs as tis freezing in here.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

WRITING TIP #66

Chekhov spoke of the writer as a witness, who details events / objects / characters as they are, no more, no less. Try to resist explaining everything, especially someone’s inner world; your words will carry more weight if readers conclude this themselves. And describe only objects rather than the narrator’s reaction to them. Too many abstract observations will kill your prose dead.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

IS THAT A BIG PARCEL OR ARE YOU JUST PLEASED TO SEE ME?

The book is back from press. That means it exists, it’s an actual inanimate entity. From a few ideas in my head on the MA, to collection length a couple of years later, to in the postman’s bag tomorrow. To a bookshop near you... All rather exciting really. So you can now buy a copy if you like, direct from Salt, with a discount. Who knows, you may be the first. Sorry to anyone who pre-ordered it on Amazon or the Book Depository: I don’t think they get theirs until the official publication date of November 1st. But I may be wrong.

Anyway, I promise not to go on about it (too much). A big thank you to all those who’ve left comments of encouragement over the last 18 months.

Right, I deserve a pint. Anyone joining me?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

NIK'S BLOG

If you don’t already know Nik Perring or his work, go and have a look. There’s an interview with yours truly there at the moment.

I’ll be reviewing Nik’s collection, Not So Perfect, in the near future.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

STORIES FOR PAKISTAN - CALL FOR SUBS


Another chance to use your short fiction for good. Greg McQueen, who produced 100 Stories for Haiti, is compiling an anthology of 50 stories to raise funds for flood victims in Pakistan.

Short stories/flash fiction in any genre - 500 wds max - no death, violence, or destruction. Money to the Red Cross. Stick them in the body of an email to storiesforpakistan@gmail.com

Please help Greg's work by sticking to the required word count! Strictly 500 words max.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

SMELL THE INK

My collection went to press yesterday, so here's hoping we got all those typos (or lits, I believe they're actually called).

Can't wait to see / hold / smell (!) it next week.

It will be available direct from Salt initially, or for pre-order from Amazon or the Book Depository before its official publication date of November 1st.

I imagine there will be a whole host of chances to win a copy here.

Here's the blurb...

A writer takes his research a little too far; a couple, stricken with guilt and grief, prepare a last meal; a group of swingers is rocked by the arrival of a new couple; a man takes a train journey to learn how to kill again; a deformed brother and sister exact revenge half a mile underground; a modern-day messiah astonishes a criminal gang; a witch grows weary of her unemployed husband; a pair of luckless gamblers are convinced they can beat the system; and a father is forever tormented by the few minutes his back was turned. Just some of the stories in this award-winning collection.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

WRITING TIP #14

habit / n. 1 a settled of regular tendency or practice. 2 a practice that is hard to give up.

Having a daily word count target will become your best friend. It doesn’t have to be a large number, but it should always be a minimum. There will be days you only get an hour to write, so I’d start with 300. This sounds modest, but you will often write more – the trick is to never write less. (It’s still the length of a novel in a year.) More importantly it develops your writing muscles, proves to yourself that, even on the days it feels like pulling teeth, you can do it. Learn to really cherish that hour and don’t worry about the quality of the words initially.