Thursday, 16 May 2019

UPDATE May 2019

Just thought I needed a wee update on things. First off my novel is due for publication in June now - that's next month! Cover has been sorted and I am very pleased with it. Launch details are a bit blurry just at the moment because we are looking at some pretty big options and waiting to hear back... but it will be available in June. More on this soon.

Not been doing too many competitions recently. Fewer than 1 a month and sometimes not at all. However I was commended in The Neil GunnShort Story Competition (last time was second and the time before was first - but it is still good to be commended). 

Got a story published in Lakeview International which is such a thrill.

Got nine pieces up on Visual Verse now. It's fun to be fed a monthly prompt to play with. 

Just read an article on the Holocaust exhibition in New York. Very interesting. Wish I was more jet-setting - I'd go there in heartbeat. With all the current anti-semitism and racism, it is a timely reminder of what we should never forget. I once wrote a novel with another writer that touched on this topic with particular reference to Theresienstadt (Terezin). It's a shame that we can't agree, this writer and I, because I think the novel would add to the cause in a positive way because it is filled with compassion and love. Maybe something to work on for the future.

Friday, 8 March 2019


So, having worked collaboratively with a fellow writer and done so without any agreement or contract, the collabrative work is then jointly owned. Publishing by one collaborative writer without the permission of the other is something that could happen - copyright law makes room for this. Copyright law makes sense in preventing one writer from holding another's work hostage.

But what if publishing the work would cause upset to one of the writers? Is it right then to go ahead and publish it anyway?

Copyright law makes no allowances for feelings. It tries to judge the cases generally and without sentiment. It tries to be fair - to all parties. Copyright law allows for one of the collaborative writers to publish without the other collaborative writer's permission so long as both writers have equal credit and equal division of any monies made from the publishing of the work.

However, I believe people should be people and should behave as people and show respect to each other. I have aproached a writer I collaborated with about publishing a work we both committed to. This writer's response indicates that publishing the work would be upsetting to them. It would be selfish of me then to go ahead and publish knowing that this would hurt the other writer. So I won't.

There is a cost to me in doing this - I so love the work and have invested hundreds of hours in the work and I believe others would really enjoy it and get something worthwhile out of it. It makes me sad that no one else will see the work. But there would also be a cost to publishing it - I do not like to hurt people, I am not that person, and I do not want that to be the price of publishing the work. 

So, sadly, I will not seek to publish the work.

Thursday, 21 February 2019


Advice for anyone working collaboratively: always get an agreement in writing at the outset about what is happening and what will happen with the work in the future and whose name(s) will be attached to the work (all parties probably).

I once worked collaboratively with a fellow writer on a whole novel. We were just goofing around at first and then it developed into a whole novel. We had no written agreement on what we would do with the novel, though the fellow writer did ask me late in the project if they could show it to their agent and I agreed to this.

Then this writer and myself had a fallout (about something else) and the fellow writer pulled back from the project leaving the completed novel in a sort of limbo – where it has languished ever since. I was told I could not use this fellow writer’s characters or ideas*; as the writing had been done so closely together I did not see how the novel could exist without what this other writer had contributed. I have since tried to rework the novel without using this fellow writer’s words and I have something I am pleased with. But I am still very much aware that the work I have remains a joint work – under the law and under copyright law particularly. As a result I thought I was trapped and could do nothing with the finished piece – which I am so proud of by the way.

However, I have done a bit of digging and although the fellow writer has disassociated from the project, it seems that it is still possible to have the work published, even without the fellow writer’s permission.

In a case where two people work together collaboratively with the intention of creating a single joint work, both individuals own the copyright as joint authors of the joint work. Under copyright law, in the absence of a written agreement to the contrary, each joint author owns an undivided interest in the whole work.

As joint copyright owners, under ‘default arrangement’ per the copyright law, the obligation of one owner to the other is to pay the other 50% of anything earned by the marketing of the work.

The ‘default arrangement’ under copyright law also gives each of the collaborators/owners of the copyright the right to exploit the copyright without the other’s permission – as a non-exclusive license.

So there’s hope.

(Information from Owen, Wickersham and Erickson:

* Actually, once the ideas/characters and even the words have been committed to the collaborative work they are all joint owned. In the case discussed above I need not have rewritten the work in order to pursue its publication. Of course, the other writer can also pursue publication independent of me with only the same obligations attached. But whose name goes first on the work - that is a bit trickier to sort out... even in the work that has been rewritten by me! All of this is why it is better to have a written agreement in place first so all these things are sorted out and mutually agreed upon.

Monday, 14 January 2019

The Mechanics' Institute Review (Birkbeck, University of London)

The Mechanics' Institute Review is the online platform for BirkBeck, University of London. I recently attended an Arvon course in Lumb Bank nr Hebden Bridge with Toby Litt (from Birkbeck) and Joanna Walsh. Toby read one of my stories in the week at Lumb Bank and suggested I might like to send it in to MIR for their consideration. I did and they accepted it. I worked with one of their staff - Jupiter Jones - on fine-tuning the piece (thank you to Jupiter for making the whole process so easy) and today the story has been posted up on their site. It's called 'A GIRL IN MY BATHROOM' and it's a bit quirky and you can read it here:

Great picture to go with it by the way.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018


I am gad people are still reading Jonathan Lethem's very important essay 'The Ecstasy of Influence' which looks at ideas and the 'theft' of ideas and Art, and the need for a freedom of the transmission of ideas that is not really covered by recent copyright battles in the music industry.

Here is an article written by J.C.Mims which looks at what Lethem says about ideas and the need for them to be shared in order for Art to flourish. Mims says in the article:

"Lethem is arguing for an artist-wide shared universe essentially, where many different creators have access to a wide range of publicly accessible properties, so that the best possible art can be created. One writer might have a good idea, but their follow-through could be terrible. Why not have another writer pick that idea up then, and see if they can make a better follow-through?"

Read the whole article here .


Thursday, 25 October 2018


So, I am told that deadlines and publication dates often shift under one's feet. I have completed the second 'Typeset Proof' edits for the novel that was due out at the end of this year (initially October and then shifted to December) so from this it might be assumed that we are good to go. But the cover has not been finalised yet and there's some debate going on around this to make sure we get one that is right for the book. And this, along with some other small concerns around timing, has shifted the publication date to the end of February 2019. I am told by a writer friend of mine that this is all pretty normal.

So, having had a 'dry spell' for quite a while, this summer a whole other novel spilled out and it was a little new in its shape and not like anything I have written before. Still at the first draft stage but it felt good - to be writing again, to have a good project filling my head, and to get something down on paper. I have someone looking it over and am waiting for feedback on the project. I expect it will need a fair bit of revision, but it is something that was a lot of fun to do.

Then I had another Arvon course booked - one on experimental fiction with Toby Litt and Joanna Walsh. The reading in preparation for this course sparked another project and, having completed the course (which was so exciting and mind-expanding) and returned home, this second project is now completed too and is very very different from anything I have done before; it was exciting and fun for me to write. Again this is at first draft stage, but I have shown it to someone - someone who knows my work a bit, and they have said it is hands down the best thing they have read of mine... so that feels good.

Am also looking at some non-writing university short courses to do in 2019 which may also help me in my writing... I will share more of this if and when they happen.

Sunday, 30 September 2018


(Been a while since I posted any fiction here, so here's a flash from a while back.)


Kimika stares at the numbers she has set down on the page. She sees them running all ways, like ants across the paper, and she chases those ants with her pen, never quite catching them. Kimika does not understand what her teacher, Mr Osaka, has told her to do. She cannot remember the rules to make those numbers sit still. She can see the other girls in the class, bent over their work, their small-moon faces crumpled and creased with concentration, and they are writing. Kimika can hear the scritch scratch of their pens, and she thinks she is the only one who sees ants.
Kimika thinks of Grandpa Ishio and the stories in his head. She thinks of the biggest number in the world; she cannot yet put a name to that number but she thinks it must be more than a hundred and that is the number of the stories that her Grandpa Ishio has. She remembers those stories, though sometimes when she remembers they are just one story and Grandpa Ishio’s voice does not stop for breath in the telling of the tale. Kimika looks at the page before her and she wishes Grandpa Ishio was with her now; he would have the words to stop those ants from running this way and that, for there is a magic in words, Grandpa Ishio says.
Kimika makes a story come, one of Grandpa Ishio’s stories. It is the one about the boy who emerged full formed from the great peach stone and he grew as quick as stories can and came to be the warrior Momotaro. Kimika tells herself of the Lord Monkey and the Lord Brindled Dog and the Lord Pheasant of the Moor, and how they sailed with Momotaro out across the sea in a bamboo boat and, reaching a far off island, they found and thrashed the great ogres that were the terror of the country, and the heroes afterwards brought back all the lost treasures of Japan. There were precious jewels, and coral fans, and amber beads, and emerald necklaces, and gold and silver bells, and tortoiseshell combs, and bolts of the finest silk. And there was a coat made of rice grass and wearing it made a person invisible. Kimika looks up at the clock on the wall and even those numbers are become ants. She wishes for the rice grass coat then.
‘Don’t forget the hammer,’ she says, only the voice in her head when she says it sounds like Grandpa Ishio. ‘Don’t forget the hammer.’ He means the hammer that Momotaro brought back from the Isle of Ogres. And it was a magic hammer and every blow of the hammer struck showers of gold. Kimika looks down at the page of her book and she thinks that to make gold out of the ants on her page would be a fine thing indeed, and the ogre, Mr Osaka, would be pleased with that and not notice that her numbers didn’t add up. Instead she scribbles with her pen.
Kimika is busy with her scribbling, not really knowing what she does, making a cloud that glowers and glowers across the whole page, and all those ants are soon shrunk to one that sits in a small white space in the middle of the paper. 
‘The pen is mightier than the sword,’ her Grandpa Ishio says with some satisfaction, and it is as though he is there beside her, leaning over her shoulder and his lips close to her ear. ‘The pen is mightier than the sword,’ he says again, and Kimika did not think that could be true till now, till she sees the one small ant trapped in the crowded darkness of her scribbling, outnumbered by the marks she has made on the page, over and over, too many to count, more than all the stories in Grandpa Ishio’s head.
Mr Osaka looks up for a moment and seems to be listening to the scritch scratch music of the girls’ pens, and Kimika pretends she is thinking hard, wears a mask that makes her look like all the other girls in the class. Then, when Mr Osaka looks away again, Kimika bends to her work and scribbles the last remaining ant into dark.