Monthly Archives: April 2020

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

I’m currently following the competition between museums to find their creepiest object. I’m actually shopping a short story around about a medical model, so I find these bizarre objects right up my alley. This was all started on Twitter by the Yorkshire Museum, who kicked off with a 3rd/4th century hair bun from the burial of a Roman lady, still with the jet pins in place.


I don’t think anyone is going to top the leg transformed into a beast.

However, the ones that haunt me the most are the taxidermy objects: the Fiji mermaids, the crab claws playing cards, the kittens posed as if playing games, the fox with a woman’s death mask, the badly stuffed lion. Every single one of these could inspire a story from me. I am very tempted to write a short story collection based on all this rogue taxidermy.

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Filed under Museums, Research, Rogue Taxidermy, Story

The Sirens of Science

I loved writing this the first time around. Rereading it, it’s aged well.

Cogpunk Steamscribe

Jemma Simmons, Abby Sciuto, and Osgood Jemma Simmons, Abby Sciuto, and Osgood

They talk about the muses whenever they talk about the Fine Arts, and yet the muses were also supposed to inspire the sciences – not that Science was called Science at the time. In reality, the only muse to have anything to do with science was Urania, great-granddaughter of Uranus, who was the muse of Astronomy. Her sister muses were all in charge of dance and ballads and epic poetry, music and poor all Urania went in for star gazing.

So, it seems only right and proper that Science gets to have proper muses, or as I prefer to think of them, sirens. But instead of luring men to their death with sultry songs, Science Sirens lure men and women into a world where logic and rational thought triumph over ignorance. These are some seriously attractive women.

I was inspired into thinking about Science…

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Learning Curve

Just to shake things up a bit, I’ve decided to do a masterclass online with Neil Gaiman. He is a writer I admire, with a lush writing style. And I’ve saved a bit of money by not going anywhere…

If you’re snoozing, you’re losing. I don’t think a writer can ever say there is nothing new to learn. I’ll report back on what I’m learning … without giving away Mr Gaiman’s hard work. My favourite gold nugget for getting a story started: “Let me tell you what happened to me.” It’s immediate, and already you’ve made a connection with the reader. The answer will be different for every storyteller.


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Filed under Craft, Education, Inspiration, Neil Gaiman, Writing Career, Writing Style

Career Update April 2020

I have more good news. Next issue of AntipodeanSF , Issue 260,will contain one of my Steampunk short stories. I am thrilled to have a story in my favourite genre being showcased in a magazine I support.

And DailySF has accepted a second story from me! I have to admit, that news sent me dancing around my house. I spent two years writing stories specifically for DailySF, and my persistence has paid off. I know the sort of stories they prefer to see from me, and I will be tailoring my submissions accordingly.

On the topic of submissions, I haven’t done as much submitting as usual for the first quarter of the year. I’ve upped my game this month. I’ve already sent off ten stories (some are recycled rejections, given a polish), and plan to write and send at least one more in the next week.

My current project is finally going well. I’ve found my ‘voice’. It helps that I am over the brain fuzziness that plagued me for a fortnight.

As a writer, the current lockdown has only meant more writing time. However, for those of you who are negatively impacted by Covid-19 social distancing regulations, hang in there. Remember to be kind to each other. If you start feeling a dose of cabin fever … take a deep breath and find your happy place. Mine is reading a good book.


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Filed under AntipodeanSF, DailySF, Personal experience, Writing Career

Nigel Terry

Doctor Who

Actor Nigel Terry, pictured in a still from the 1981 film Excalibur, left his entire £1.2 million estate to charity

It’s almost impossible for me to see the hunky King Arthur from ‘Excalibur’ as Cobb from ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’. I was noodling around Doctor Who websites when I came across this titbit. Nigel Terry preferred to act on the stage … but he certainly left some memorable characters behind. Vale.


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A discovery of headstrong, obstinate girls (or: simple time-travel)

What a great way to invent characters.

Kathleen Jennings

The people in yesterday’s post (Sketching the people glimpsed from the corner of your eye) were all in roughly current clothing, because 75% of the time that is what the people I sketch from life are wearing.

2020-04-06-Sketch02KJenningsDetail Decorative metal tree/hanger

One of the ways I sometimes develop characters and/or story ideas, however, is to sketch and/or imagine passersby into the clothing of another era. The rules of that game are very simple (see below).

So, for the purposes of the people-less people-watching exercise, and my offhand reference to character design, I picked another style/era for the same experiment:

2020-04-05-Sketch07KJennings L-R, top to bottom: Paint-water jug, Cottee’s bottle, kettle, vase of proteas, thermometer, Rork Projects reusable coffee cup, SodaStream.

Similar principles apply, but with the specific constraints of a chosen field of fashion/awareness/visual retention.

They very quickly gain their own opinions, and it is a truth universally acknowledged that…

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I’ve got a story on DailySF

I’m so happy that I’ve reached one of my writing goals.


Filed under DailySF, Short Story, writing, Writing Career