Writing goals and wrapping up the day job

Today marked the end of term at the secondary school where I work for the start of the summer holidays. It also means the start of my maternity leave. This week I’ve been busy wrapping up loose ends with my admin at work and getting stuck in to a few writing deadlines, before baby pursuits take up my time!

1. Author interview 

I’ve been drafting an author interview, which will be forthcoming on a website hosted by author and business person, David Ellis. The interview will focus on my published poetry collections and novella. More on this soon.

2. Finishing my novel

Another brain challenge as I completed my final chapter, cleaned up plot difficulties from the previous (5th) draft and – hopefully – formatted the manuscript for the last time in preparation for submission. More on this shortly too!

3. Editing the Bindweed Magazine Issue 5 print anthology

Designing the front cover, writing the summer editorial, organising the typescript, uploading the manuscript to Lulu, writing the blurb, and setting the price for worldwide distribution – all before the end of June has been a tough, but worthwhile hurdle on the literary field. Whew!

4. Receiving my writer contract for Dark Gothic Resurrected magazine 

My novelette, Til Death do us Boneapart, will be published in the summer issue of Dark Gothic Resurrected magazine. The editor sent along my writing contract to read through and sign, which was another goal ticked on my literary list.

Woohoo! If you’re anything like me as a writer, you can relate to the feeling of accomplishment I’ve had this week at meeting my writing goals, especially in the face off growing fatigue. Ah… It feels good to finally get one’s feet up for a well-deserved break, at last.

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The Libertarian’s Prison – creative take on politics by Joseph Robert 

The Libertarian’s Prison

Joseph Robert © 2017
Brietbart Bots Barf Consensus: Change the Conversation:

Shocker: Silent Majority Revealed as an Oppressed Minority:

RE: The Trotskyist Trots: No, Not Here!: Not On My Watch:

Righteous Victimhood Beckons:

Click Here: The Sick Here: The Sick Hear:

Dirty Immigrant Takes Doctor’s Dime:

Robert Mercer’s Mercenary Machines: Lock Her Up!:

Putting Putin in Pride of Place: Get Behind our President:

Vladimir Hoovers up FBI Attention: Crimea No Big Deal:

Smokescreen: Now Syria’s The Place: Pity the Right, Folks:

Cambridge Analytica are Good Guys: Libya Was an Evil Error:

Blackwater Was Cool Though, Says XE: Academi Agrees:

Obama Was Yesterday’s News: He Plots in the Bushes:

A Bird in Hand, But Not The Oval Office:

Breakthrough in Chakra Massage: Place Palm on Face:

Discount Palm Oil Now Available Direct: Belly Fat:

Six Simple Tricks:  Myth Exposed: Do You Need to Know?:  Continue reading

Writing during pregnancy – Baby brain and writer’s block

How does pregnancy affect writing? Over the past few months, I have done a lot of research online, but have not found many articles on this topic. I’ve included links at the bottom of this post for the few that I found helpful, but thought I’d post my own as a bit of information on what to expect for mama-to-be authors out there needing advice.

First Trimester:

With the cocktail of HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin), progesterone and estrogen doing a number on your body in early pregnancy, it can be hard to stick to a writing schedule. Continue reading

Zombie Reflux – Chapter 2

Here is the second chapter of my novella, Zombie Reflux (Meandi Books, 2014), a satirical poke at contemporary UK society, with elements of horror. If you like it, you can buy the paperback for £3.99 from Amazon UK.

Read Chapter 1

—————

Chapter 2

Eric ran home barefoot. His dried soles slapped on the pavement, making a sound like fists hitting a buffalo-hide punchbag. He felt aware that as he ran, he didn’t need to gasp for breath. Those days were behind him. The days of being restricted to earthly turmoil.

This was a new turmoil, he decided. An existential crisis. What was he? Not living, but technically not dead. He had no death certificate and in fact didn’t even know if he had passed away or not. Maybe he was suffering from a tropical disease? Porphyria?

No, that didn’t make sense. He needed to stop all the hypochondria, forget reading the Medical Dictionary at home. It wasn’t in his head this time; this was real life. He couldn’t have a tropical disease because he hadn’t been abroad. Yes, rational explanations first. He couldn’t afford a holiday with the move to a new town; Bury St. Morts, out in the countryside of Norfolk. It was supposed to be a fresh start, away from his gold-digging distant relatives in Cheshire, who were after his inheritance money. But all the stress had started a nasty stomach illness. And this doctor; who was he to jump to conclusions like that? Maybe he’d got his Medical certificate out of an Easter Egg. What sort of small town hospital doctor made jokes about being dead? That was it, it had to be. He had an illness, a new kind of immunity, like the doctor said. Something living, something alive, that was eating at him. Yes, had to be alive. The thought of anything else killed him. No, no, no! Not killed him. Another word, think, quick. The thought of anything else… befuddled him. Yes! That would suffice. No talk of death, killed, dying, anymore… evermore.

The thing the doctor had pulled from him had been a tapeworm, not his intestines. Tapeworms grew to over ten metres in length, wound themselves the whole length of a person’s gut. That explained it; that was why he didn’t feel any more pain. Stomach problems in the past had been excruciating, but in the doctor’s room at the hospital, he had been numb. Now he had an explanation. The tapeworm had caused him pain, and now he was free of it. He was free of his parasite, not his guts.

Eric jogged up his garden path and fumbled in his pocket. He found his key and stuck it in the lock. His fingers jiggled, twisting it. Then there was a crisp snapping sound. A twig breaking? Eric looked down. His index finger lay on the doorstep.

“Oh God – oh Jesus, help!” Continue reading

Joint fiction publication in Inane Pure Slush Volume 14

Joseph Robert and I are jointly published in Inane Pure Slush Volume 14 today. This is our third joint publication since our reversible poetry chapbook, Realms of Man/ Metamorphosis of Woman was published in 2012 by Meandi Books and more of our poetry appeared in Mudjob Magazine in 2013 (Joseph Robert here and Leilanie Stewart here). This time, however, our joint publication is fiction not poetry.

Joseph Robert’s story, ‘This Really Happened’ tells the sorry tale of an unfortunate dog, Poochie and his self-centred owner. My story, ‘Fear of the Mould’ is a second person narrative on trying to escape destructive thoughts. E-versions of the anthology should be following soon – more when this happens.

Second novel almost finished – from broken bones to baby brain!

After 5 drafts, I’m down to the last 50 pages of my second novel. With any luck, this one could become my debut – more on the reasons for why my first novel is still doing the publishing rounds below. Here’s hoping!

Researching a novel – tackling the beast!

The idea for my second novel popped into my head and originally I wrote it up as a 3000 word short story. A year later, armed with a few more more ideas, I began my research at the British Museum in the summer of 2013. The photo above is me tackling the beast of a new novel; if only writing it was as easy as gathering notes!

Continue reading

Zombie Reflux – Chapter 1

Here is the first chapter of my novella, Zombie Reflux (Meandi Books, 2014), a satirical poke at contemporary UK society, with elements of horror. If you like it, you can buy the paperback for £3.99 from Amazon UK.

—————

Chapter 1
Eric sat in the waiting room of A&E, clutching his stomach. What in the hell was wrong with him?

“Mr. Von Pfeffer?” called the nurse. “The doctor will see you now.”

Eric followed her into a room and sat on the doctor’s bed. He caught sight of his reflection in the mirror. Sallow.

“Hello, you must be Mr. Von Pfeffer? How are you feeling?”

“Not good. It’s my belly. I’ve had a lot of stomach problems lately.”

The doctor produced a stethoscope. “I’m just going to listen to your abdomen, if you’ll take off your shoes and lie down. It could be gastritis. Have you been having acid reflux?”

“Not that I was aware of.” Eric slipped off his sandals and stretched out. The doctor placed the metal disc on his belly. He didn’t even feel the coldness he had expected. His body was numb, detached.

The doctor paled. He lifted the stethoscope away.

“We have a problem, Eric,” said the doctor hurriedly. He looked across to paperwork on his desk and whispered to the nurse, who lingered near the door. She looked at Eric, and he could see confusion on her face.

“What is it, doctor?” said Eric.

“Er… I’m not sure. It could be my stethoscope is broken.”

“Just tell it to me straight, please.”

“Alright then. You have no heartbeat.”

Eric stared at him. “What?”

Continue reading

Why Bindweed Magazine is a labour of love

As many of you may know, in addition to writing and promoting my own fiction and poetry, I’m also the Editor-in-Chief of Bindweed Magazine, which celebrated its 1 year birthday anniversary on 3rd April this year. Bindweed Magazine is truly a labour of love; I receive no government/Arts council funding for my magazine. It’s entirely independent. I read submissions for free and with the help of my writer hubby, Joseph Robert, select poetry and fiction that we feel has literary merit to publish – online every 4 days and in a print anthology 4 times a year.

In a day and age of publishers charging writers ‘submission fees’ to enter work into competitions, or ‘reading fees’ to consider their writing, I am proud to read, select and publish writers without charging anything. I use Lulu to create the print anthologies, which costs me nothing, and set a token retail price for customers to buy copies. In the interests of full transparency, here is a summary of my costs for Bindweed’s first year:


What I paid:

Issue 1 proof copy = £6.33 

Issue 2 proof copy = £5.91

Issue 3 proof copy = £6.09

Issue 4 proof copy = £6.03


Net royalties received from sales (After deductions by Lulu and Amazon)

Issue 1 sales = £5.51

Issue 2 sales = £4.11

Issue 3 sales = £15.41

Issue 4 sales = Not yet known (current issue on sale)


Sub total: 

= 15.41 + 4.11 + 5.51 = 25.03 – 6.03 – 6.09 – 5.91 – 6.33

Net profit:

= 0.67

Time spent publishing the Ezine:

1 hour × 90 poets/ writers (including light editing, promotion on Facebook and Google+) = 90 hours.
Average 14 hours × 4 print anthologies  (including formatting work for the manuscript draft, designing the cover, uploading to Lulu) = 56 hours.


Estimated total time for publication on Ezine and print anthologies for Issues 1 to 4:

= 146 hours

So, £0.67 is how much I have earned for running Bindweed Magazine for 1 year, including a lower estimate of 146 hours of work. Why the heck do I do it then, I hear you say?!

Because I want to continue to provide a platform for writers and poets to market their work and create a product that contributors can be proud to be a part of! My glossy little A5 sized magazines certainly look a treat on a shelf and hopefully can give readers and writers a satisfaction that goes beyond the safe, boring, academically-churned-government-cauterised literary zines often spewed in the face of many austerity-starved and sadly dying Indie zines. Not Bindweed! This poverty-flower will keep creeping over the manicured-money-blooms regardless of spending cuts.

Life Inside David Cameron’s Head by Joseph Robert – The Flash Fiction Press

This flash fiction story by Joseph Robert was first published in July 2016. You can read it over at The Flash Fiction Press, where it’s still archived online.

This story is catharsis now more than ever in the aftermath of Article 50, with the £ crashing. Let’s not forget who triggered the massive mess in the first place. A slow clap for our former PM…👏


Life Inside David Cameron’s Head

Joseph Robert © 2016 

This is not a political polemic, nor an allegorical satire. No, friends, this is a true story, the like of which aren’t being written down enough these days, for you see, this is a fairy tale. That is, this is Life Inside David Cameron’s Head. So briefed, let us proceed with the public relation of the exportable narrative product. . .

One upon an election cycle, let’s call it The Year of Our Lord, two thousand and ten, there was a happy, legally married couple who lived in a council flat. They had names of course, but that’s hardly relevant here, although, if desired, the electoral rolls might be consulted, for they did possess a credit score, low but un-broken. However, what is of real import here is that they were makers and doers: a taxed native-born maker of construction equipment deliveries and an untaxed Commonwealth immigrant doer of massages, respectively. These two lived in a magical age of minority government under the pleasant-enough protection of the moderately godly, gaily green family man Prime Minister, David Cameron. He was a handsome Conservative young thing, Eton-educated, Bullingdon-baptized, Radiohead-enamored etc. And, well, the man of the council flat was rather taken with this David Cameron’s rhetoric about benefit cheats and the need for austerity and a sensible immigrant cap etc. and therefore they voted the Tory ticket, with some reservations.

Now, a few years later, something rather remarkable occurred, something that is not representative of the population as a whole and bugger-all to do with your life, mate, you see, they won a medium-sized jackpot in the Health Lottery. A measly £250 that they drank up in the local boozer with their friends in a single, surprisingly warm and dry winter’s day. How extraordinary! Nevertheless, this is no fairy tale, despite being extremely unlikely, so, perforce, something truly insane had to happen. Therefore, the very next day, the doer found a proper lottery ticket in one of her client’s pocket trousers. This gilded ticket won them literally millions of pounds in taxes to try to avoid paying. Finally! Now they we’re cooking the books with REAL small-fry nouveau riche money, on the scale of tens of millions of pounds.

With their winnings to spend, the maker and doer became subject to unhealthy whims: quitting their jobs (and thus leaving employment); travelling to fragile ecosystems for their own amusement; eating chicken livers at The Fat Duck restaurant; getting plastic surgery; entering into a consultation regarding the possibilities of undergoing private IVF fertility treatment. Oh, these were bad enough, but true decadent indulgence struck when they won laughs from their sycophants over a magnum of champagne and an ironic plate of caviar about a fevered joke that their idle riches would idly make real.

First, they bought a second townhouse, a cute and trendy, top market rate home in a mews in Notting Hill. Second, they talked to a Spanish designer and erstwhile artist, for they were going to do something truly worthwhile to celebrate their fortunate life. Third, they awaited the delivery of the sculpted fiberglass sections which had to be made in Germany and then painted in France. Fourth, they lounged on an exclusive Jamaican beach whilst Polish workmen installed the fiberglass sculpture over the front of their second London home. Fifth, they returned to live for a lark for a week inside David Cameron’s head, the erection of which they had not bothered to seek planning permission for.

The neighboring absentee landlords were aghast when their agents sent them photos of a giant, realistic-looking fiberglass bust of the Prime Minister which had so suddenly sprouted on their street, and which would certainly imperil their properties’ values. It was quite clever though, in its vulgar way; two windows served as the pupils of his eyes while the dryer’s exhaust had been rerouted to billow from his overhanding nostrils. One had to watch their step over the garden-gnome-sized teeth of the lower jar as they entered the gaping mouth to finally gain access to front door after wiping their feet on a tacky, tongue-shaped doormat. But what was so amazing was the incredible way they had captured David Cameron’s hair. That knighted hairdresser’s work was faithfully recreated over the roof of the house in three dimensions with what looked up close to be a forest of thin plastic tubing.

And so the days passed and the former maker and ex-doer responded to a phone call question of an Evening Standard reporter by affirming that ‘It’s nice and cozy here, living inside David Cameron’s head.’

Continue reading

Submission call: Audio poems for Poetry Day Ireland

Poetry Day Ireland is on 27th April, which gives a few more weeks to send your submissions to Lagan Online, who are hosting the event. You can read all the submission guidelines on the above link – MP3, MP4 or WAV formats are accepted and the deadline is Monday 10th April.

So get submitting, people!