Pacifist Guerilla

Wastrel Rodent and the Blue Pootle, pacifying gorillas since 2,050.

14 October, 2006

Very Moving

Ratfink and I are leaving the PG behind us, and have set up home at LiveJournal instead. First posts - a recap of our recent interviews, and a top five books about birth and rebirth.

Stick with us, folks:

Pootle and Rattie live!

I'm sure the twitchy nosed fluffster will pop in himself to say cheerio from Blogger. See you at the new venue!

13 October, 2006

Amazing Stairs

Aren't escalators marvellous?

When I was a small small child in deepest Devonio we used to travel to Exeter once a year for a Christmas treat. This involved two things - Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch and a trip up the escalator in Debenhams. My brother and I used to spend hours going up that escalator. This was back when escalators only went up and you had to walk down normal stairs to leave the building or, indeed, ride the escalator again.

Wow, that memory makes me feel Christmassy.

Anyway, the point of the reminiscence is so that I can tell you that I'm going to be permanently riding an escalator for the next year, that is, the Escalator Scheme hosted by the New Writing Partnership. The quite marvellous Michelle Spring is going to be mentoring the writing of my next book, which is brilliant, because it's a crime novel. After a fashion.

More details at the New Writing Partnership Website.

Name in pixels

So now Apex has been saved, the new issue with my story, Kissing Cousins, is available. The full toc is on the home page of the site, along with the quirky cover image:

www.apexdigest.com

10 October, 2006

Don't Take It Personally #6

And so, the last word in rejection for the moment comes from Sally Zigmond, ex Assistant Editor of QWF before it absconded for the younger, brighter, better looking lights of America. Sally's also a darned fine writer so we'd be wise to believe the following information regarding what would lead to instant rejection on the bumpy playing field of the short story market:

What I hated and what I know most other editors hate is anything that begins with the protagonist in bed with dawn creeping round the curtains and then spends pages explaining why he or she can't get up. Then again, if they do eventually rise, I don't want to know that they take a shower and have breakfast - unless of course, these dull daily acts have significance. Get them out of the bedroom and doing something interesting!

Thanks Sally, and good luck with your future projects.

In fact, good luck to all future projects everywhere. I kiss you all metaphorically on the lips and say, Get out there, mariners and pirates! Meet rejection with a smile, and remember, no matter how people dissect your sea slug, it's still gonna smell of your unique brinyness. They can't take that away from you.

Cast off.

09 October, 2006

On Things That Make Me Make a Noise Like A Ribena Berry

The Blue Pootle wonders how to cope with the mean reds.

How about making a list of all the things that cause me to make a 'wooo' noise? 'Wooo' noises are good for serotonin levels and stimulate the production of, well, good stuff. In the brain. In the ribena cortex.

So here goes:

Number One - going fast round corners. This inevitably produces a 'wooo' from me. Although I'm not convinced that it's altogether a pleasurable 'wooo'.

Number Two - cheap nasty white toast. This creates the ribena berry factor for me, but also creates the 'argh, you gluten-ridden idiot' factor for my stomach exactly three hours later.

Number Three - otters doing their thing is a definite 'wooo' in sheer loveliness. But I don't live near any otters and even if I did, find that making the appropriate noise usually leads to their immediate departure.

Number Four - plain chocolate digestives and cutesy play station games with Japanese characters called Justin or Blade King or Ariel Sharon. You eat a biscuit, you run around a virtual world for 600 hours of extremely easy game play.

Right then, I'm off to combat the mean reds with a dose of number four. Wooo.

05 October, 2006

Grendel Song Launch Party

Turning up fashionably late to the Grendel Song launch party—there’s all kindsa mad-party action there. You can catch Jay Lake’s podcast of his story The Best of Times, The Best of Men there. The first issue also has a new story by the fish/squirrel hybrid E. Sedia (along with news of our forthcoming chapbook-now all we need to do is find someone who'd like to write a scorching introduction) and stories by Forrest Aguirre and Eugie Foster.

Great Potatoes R Us

Talking of root vegetables, I recently joined a Vegetable Box Scheme, which I am enjoying immensely. New and interesting vegetables, all soily and organic, turn up in a big recyclable box on my doorstep. I go away and research what needs to be done to such foodstuffs as Swiss Chard to make it palatable to the under twos, and I'm sure that Elsa isn't swallowing more chemicals than vegetables. Very highly recommended. Here's what I got in my box today (to last for two weeks):

2 types of potato
onions
a huge cauliflower
a red pepper
spinach
cavolo nero
beetroot
a spaghetti squash
avocado (yeuch)
half a dozen apples
3 big oranges
bananas (they do a fair trade deal with suppliers, I'm assuming...)
pomegranates (yumma!)

Good, eh? All recipe ideas gratefully received.

I also got a leaflet in my box entitled 'Stop the GM Spiral'. It informs me that there's new government plans which will jeopardise the growing of GM-free food.

I'm not strictly anti GM foods - the moment we started breeding types of cattle together we were dabbling in the gene pool, for God's sake - but I'm pro the right to grow, protect and sell GM free foods. So if you want to get involved, you can send an email to GMcoexistence@defra.gsi.gov.uk asking them to protect GM-free crops. Call the email 'Consultation on Proposals for Managing the Coexistence of GM, Conventional & Organic Crops'. Well, this is government - if it doesn't have 300 syllables, it doesn't count.

04 October, 2006

She can't make love, but makes great potato

Ah, the mighty Sack Trick - that headline's taken from the song Microwave Sweetheart - the album Penguins on the Moon. Why have only about ten people heard of them?

Here are the lyrics from their classic I Play Bass:

I can’t get a job cause I can’t get out of bed.
I can’t go to college cause I’ve nothing in my head.
I can’t play drums and I can’t really sing

I’ve tried to play guitar but it’s got far too many strings
I’ll play bass

It’s got four strings; I only use two.
I’ve never worked out what the others do. I play bass

I’m happy here just strumming along
But I’m still not sure how to play this song

I play bass
Here we are in another verse
The first was bad this can’t be worse

I play bass
Still don’t know quite why I’m here
Never mind, I’ll get another beer
I play bass

NOW WE COME TO THAT PART OF THE SONG
THAT ALWAYS SEEMS TO GO ON FOR SO LONG
WE DON’T MIND IF YOU WANT TO NOD OFF
COS THE BASS PLAYER’S ABOUT TO SHOW OFF. GO

So if you can’t...And if you can’t...GO PLAY BASS

Even the drummer’s doin’ it!


Okay, so it's a lot better with the actual music.

02 October, 2006

Don't Take It Personally #5

So many manuscripts, so few agents. Getting representation is just as hard as getting published, it seems, nowadays, so thank God for enterprises like Macmillan New Writing, where a publisher has dared to move with the times by allowing unsolicited subs by the lowest of the lowest, the unclean 'writers without an agent' sect (although if you have got an agent, that's okay too...). Plus, you submit via email and everything gets read. Not many publishing houses can make that claim.

Speaking from personal experience, and to paraphrase the man in the eye laser surgery advert, 'I highly recommend it.'

Anyway, the man at the Helm of MNW is the enthusiastic and utterly charming Will Atkins. He's a top banana kind of a guy who had this to say on the subject of instant rejection:

As for opening lines that would make me pass on something promptly – well, I try not to reject anything solely because of its opening (unless it’s really exceptionally offensive), but for what it’s worth . . . conventional Creative Writing wisdom seems to say it’s a good idea to start with a line of “intriguing” dialogue to draw the reader in. This device sometimes works brilliantly, but in my view it tends to be overused, and if done clumsily can be very off-putting.

Synopses – conciser the better.

So, all you people who binned your opening lines of dialogue on the advice of Steven Pirie (from an earlier insight into rejection at this very site) can send your manuscripts off to MNW - your foresight will do you proud!

Bonus points for anyone who can come up with an exceptionally offensive opening line. Something about corpse kissing or keeping babies in cages should cut the mustard.