Friday bletherie

I’ll end the week as I began: by letting you all know that Wise Fools, the new issue of Unsettling Wonder, is newly available to buy. I’m going to keep flogging this one because I love it, and I think its hilarious and sad and beautiful. Listen!

Not in my time, not in your time, nor yet in your grandfather’s time–but in someone’s time, surely–there was and there was not, a boy.

That’s the opening of Austin Hackney’s story ‘The Tale of Tom Fool’, a story that makes me laugh and cry and wonder. It gets better—it’s unexpected and sweet and haunting. And the whole issue’s this good.

The print editions are beautiful even though I designed them, and there are beautiful e-editions designed by Erzebet Yellowboy, and it’s full of beautiful illustrations and beautiful stories and—and you need a copy because you can always have more beauty in your life. Plus it’s got sad fox by Laura Anderson in:


Also, on a similar note I’ve got a fairly momentous announcement related to Paradoxes soon, so you can look forward to that appearing early next week. Which gives you plenty of time to go buy Wise Fools. Do yourself a favour and don’t miss this one.

monday is publication day

Accepted wisdom for the blogosphere says that the big thought-pieces get posted on Monday, and the link round-ups get posted on Friday. Except that, Monday notwithstanding, I’ve got some links I’m really excited about. Accepted wisdom, accepted schmisdom.

First, the new issue of Unsettling Wonder launched today. I’m so proud and excited about this issue, it’s a really great array of talent and story and art, and if you love fairy tales and folktales and the mythic arts—actually, if you just love beautifully made stories and journals—I promise you’ll love this.

Second, if you’re looking for a big thought-piece for a Monday read, well—here’s what I wrote for the Unsettling Wonder blog on Friday. If you like what I write here, you should give this a read, because I almost posted it here—it’s par for Paradoxes, but on balance I put it at UW instead. You should be able to tell why.

And lastly, everybody but everybody that cares about writing and publishing and all related arts should read this new Interstitial Moment from Jane Yolen. She writes the truth, and beautifully.

titles and Kipling: a correspondence


I recently enjoyed a lively email exchange with the remarkable Katherine Langrish, as she was kindly giving advice about the last stages of a YA manuscript I’ve been working on for rather a while. We started by talking about fish (it made sense at the time) and wound up discussing YA literature in general and Kipling in particular—and round about the time I was enthusiastically looking up quotations from The Jungle Book, it occurred to me that you all might like to get in on the conversation. Here it is, then, reproduced with Kath’s kind permission. Chime in the comments, or email me directly, or both. Enjoy.

The agent just said to send [her the manuscript] whenever it was ready—[…] One thing I have no clue about is a title–even a working title. But I’ve already drafted a short pitch for my second novel…yeah, I’m a nutter…. 🙂


Do try and come up with SOME title, even if something vague, before you send it out.  Anything!  What’s the river called?  ‘The Falls of Something?’  Doesn’t matter what it is, the poor woman is going to want some mental tag for it, and it looks feeble not to name it anything.


I wonder if eels is better than herring, for descriptive purposes.

The title is–gah. A few ideas floating round are ‘Once, Twice and Again’ (a line from Kipling), ‘The City on the Falls’, ‘The King’s Own Players’, and–less seriously, perhaps, but is shows the general desperation–’Fateful Shaman Saina’.

An intriguing idea I had today was ‘Bitter Karela’, again from Kipling, though that’s would be an oblique choice, and may make readers think they’re getting a book about someone named Karela. ‘Remember the Wolf is a Hunter’ was another possibility, the wolf being a main symbol throughout–but if I put the word ‘Wolf’ in the title then everyone and (especially) their aunt will expect paranormal romance. Perhaps a better title is ‘Wood and Water, Wind and Tree’.

Continue reading

advice from Mr Fun

First, a link of note: my colleague the incomparable Dr Richards has just posted a thoroughly challenging piece about writing and retelling fairy tales, at Unsettling Wonder. It’s called ‘Gilt, Alloy, Catalysis’; you can read it here, and if you have any interest in writing or fairy tales and fantasy, and how these things can be understood, then you probably should.

Second, if you like art and good-humour and animation, and especially if you like Disney lore, you’ll want to check out the works of Floyd Norman. He’s an animator, cartoonist, Disney historian and all around nice guy, it seems. Seriously, what could be more fun than Mr Fun’s Blog? It’s always a treat, whether he’s giving anecdotes about cartooning and the ‘Old Maestro’, or discussing depictions of race in Disney films, or—like today—dispensing startlingly pertinent writing advice.

Yeah, I know—writing advice on the internet? No one’s ever done that before. But it’s because there’s so much of it that’s so bad, it’s a treasure to find someone actually giving good advice. Since I guess this’ll  be of interest to you, here’s what Mr Fun had to say about writing today, taken from the link above. Pay particular attention to the closing line:

My story as an author began back in High School English Literature. Eager but intimidated, I looked forward to learning a little bit about writing in my junior year. However, my English instructors thought I was in over my head and thought a “lower level English class” was more my speed. I was hardly delighted with this decision but took it in stride. When it came to the task of writing I decided I would learn on my own. Since that time I’ve come to believe most writing classes are bunk. You learn to write by writing, and no class can ever make up for that. You simply have to do it each day. There are no shortcuts or magical inspiration that will make the words appear on the page. Like most difficult things in life you simply have
to do it.

Getting booted out of High School English Literature was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I never lost my love for books and like most students I read most of the classics. I continued to have only the greatest respect for writers and was lucky enough to meet a number of favorites during my career. Guys such
as Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison and Douglas Adams provided a fair share of encouragement. While I knew I would probably never do work on their level,
I continued to learn the craft just in case I would one day have to put words
on paper.