12.05.2014

Nation - The Seventh Eren Tale - Is Here

After a brief hiatus (unscheduled, but what can you do?) Eren Tales is returning to form with Nation - the Seventh Eren Tale. For those who don't know, Eren Tales is a collaboration between me and my friend / photographer Brandon Rechten. During the project, which is due to take about a year, we're releasing twelve short stories along with twelve new photos, all designed to compliment Eren proper.

You don't need to have read Eren to enjoy the stories. They're teasers, really, giving you glimpses of the world that Eren's set in, and hints about what Eren himself is like. Nation is the seventh tale (the others being, in order, Shaman, Nightmare, Teeth, Mountain, Bridge, and Ink. Links to them all HERE) and takes place a while ago, somewhere like North America.

The artwork for the Eren Tales has been as varied as the stories. I'm fascinated by the potential of photographs as illustration for children's fiction, and this project's been a great way to learn more about how photos and stories can work together to build a picture and tell a tale. For Nation, things get a bit dark and a bit damp...


I really hope you enjoy the new tale and keep reading as the others come out. And remember, if you've got a story of your own, the 1225 Story Challenge is on right now. Can you tell a winter tale in 1225 words? It's worth a try - and you never know what might happen.

Simon

12.01.2014

I Am a Bad Blogger / 1225 Story Challenge!

It has been ... far too long since I updated this blog. I know. I'm sorry. A lot's been going on, and although Eren Tales has also fallen behind (argh), I have been writing, I promise. I'm working on a few things at the moment, none of which I have a lot to share about, although I can say the following:

  • I did my first school visit. Frost Elementary's fourth grade NaNoWriMo class were good enough to let me crash their party, talk about about writing Eren, and spend some time with the kids, asking them about their stories. It was a fun, bizarre afternoon, and I would 100% do it again.
  • Eren's UK audio book is officially happening. I've heard samples of the potential reader's work, and it is both humbling and mind-blowing that someday, somewhere, people will be able to listen to Oli and Eren battle it out. 
  • Eren was picked as the November teen book of the month by the Independent's Rebecca Davies. I'm thrilled she liked it and chose to share it.

Now, something else happened recently that I've been meaning to blog about. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll already have heard, but Martin Stewart (a man who routinely wears dangerously stylish socks) has signed a book deal with Penguin without writing the book. Specifically, he wrote a short story - one so good that Penguin asked him to turn it into a novel. That book, Riverkeep, will be out in 2016 - but the short story that inspired it all has been around since October 2013. Halloween 2013, to be exact - when the 1031 Story Challenge was born. 


This doesn't happen often, so it's all the more exciting when it does: TBA client Martin Stewart so seduced Puffin UK with his four-and-a-half-page short story, they asked him to turn it into a YA novel! 
In an especially fun twist, Martin wrote the story, titled 1,031, in response to a prompt on fellow TBA client Simon P. Clark's blog. Simon challenged writers to come up with a scary story under 1,031 words—for Halloween (look at the number again). Martin bent the rules a little, but his incredibly assured voice and his ability to build a whole world in just a few short pages resulted in a miniature masterpiece. Don't take my word for it; check out editor Amy Alward's quotes in this Booktrade article.

I'm thrilled for Martin and can't wait to read the book. It's amazing seeing what can come out of something so small, but a great reminder that creating, sharing, and honing your skills is always worth it.

You may be able to see where I'm going with this.

Today is the first day of December (hooray!). On December 25th, it's Christmas (yay!). 12/25? 1225? Yes! It's time for the first ever 1225 Story Challenge


The Challenge

Write a story either (a) in 1225 words or less or (b) featuring '1225' as its theme

Publish / share it before December 25th, 2014.

That's it!

This isn't a competition and it's not an attempt to steal your stories. You retain all rights to you work, and you can either host it yourself on your blog or site, or send me the story to collect together with the other 1225 stories (see the 1031 Story Challenge page as an example)

Is there a theme?

Not really. Christmas / winter / December seem like good themes, but it's up to you what you write.

Does it have to be fiction?

No. Non-fiction, poetry, drama, video, etc. are all welcome. Just tell a story.

How do I send you my story?

If you'd like me to put your story up on this blog, e-mail it to me at simonphilipclark [at] gmail.com

Are publishers reading these stories?

Not as far as I know, but nothing on the Internet ever goes away, and Martin's story is a testament to how truly weird the world can be.

I hope we have fun with this, guys. It's not a lot of time, I know. Everyone's very busy, I know. Give it a go and see what you come up with.

As ever, good luck - and happy writing!

10.23.2014

Why NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is almost here. They have a new website, some amazing inspirational talks, and there's already enough chatter - from bloggers and writers and readers - to know that 2014's going to be another stellar year. I haven't blogged for a while (writing, y'know), but wanted to emerge briefly to ask one simple question: Why NaNoWriMo?

For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo is the name of a challenge / community event held every November that encourages everyone, everywhere to write a novel of 50,000 words in a single month. It sounds hard, and it is, but the community during November, and the support provided by so much of the writing world, makes it a special thing. NaNowriMo has its detractors as well as its uber-fans, but, at the end of the day, it's basically a lot of people having fun, making things, and learning how to be better writers.

I've written about NaNoWriMo before, for sites like Writers' & Artists (and on this blog, actually), and I'd encourage you to scour the Internet for inspiration, advice, and news. There's a lot out there, and a lot of it is very good. As for me, I just want to offer three reasons to give it a try.

NaNoWriMo: Why Take Part?

1. It's as good a time as any to tell your story. When Benjamin Cook began his (very good) Becoming Youtube series, he used the first video to encourage viewers to make their own videos, arguing (more or less) that 'if you're looking for an excuse to begin, maybe this is it.' I think there's a parallel here. So many people want to write, but they don't have the time, or the support, or the inclination to begin. NaNoWriMo is a call to arms, in a way. You want to write a book? it says, Well come on then, let's go.

2. You won't be alone, even when you're alone. In his Nobel acceptance speech, Hemingway suggested that 'Writing, at best, is a lonely life.' There's a lot of truth to that, and it's probably one of the reasons people don't finish the books they start. It's November. It's cold. You're sitting alone at a computer. Motivation lags, fizzles, and fades. Why bother? What's the point? That's where NaNoWriMo's community helps so much. Forums, videos, local groups, hashtags - NaNoWriMo gives you an instant and understanding writing family, all doing the same thing, and happy to pull you along.

3. It's fun. It is. I promise. 50,000 words is a lot to write in a single month, especially when normal life gets in the way, but some words is better than no words. Yes, there'll be distractions, but a month really isn't that long, and at the end you'll have ... something. Neil Gaiman once wrote:

People in your world get sick or die. You fall in love, or out of love. You move house. Your aunt comes to stay. You agreed to give a talk half-way around the world five years ago, and suddenly you realise that that talk is due now. Your last book comes out and the critics vociferously hated it and now you simply don't feel like writing another. Your cat learns to levitate and the matter must be properly documented and investigated. There are deer in the apple orchard. A thunderstorm fries your hard disk and fries the backup drive as well... 
And life is a good thing for a writer. It's where we get our raw material, for a start. We quite like to stop and watch it.
It's worth thinking about. You can find a balance, and the words will come. They will. I promise.


What NaNoWriMo Isn't

NaNoWriMo has no dark side, but there are some things to bear in mind if you're going to take the plunge. For instance:

It's not about stress and guilt. Didn't get any words done for a day, or a week, or at all? It's fine. It's not a race and it's not a test.

It's not about beating other people and it's not about beating yourself up. Words written in haste are often ... bad. Editing comes after, and rewriting, and changing the story so it stops fighting back. 50,000 words doesn't make a book. 50,000 good words, in the right order, makes a book.

Actually, on that topic - it's not about writing 50,000 words. Well, I mean, it is, in a way, but I never did. My book, started as a NaNoWriMo and, now published, is still short of 50,000 (by about 7,000 words, I think). Word length isn't the be all and end all. Writing is. Telling a story - that's what matters. Making art and stretching yourself and learning and teaching and taking part in a Thing That Is Good. That, more than anything, is the NaNoWriMo spirit. It's special, and it's mad, and at the end of the day, the world has more stories in it.

So, bring on November. Happy writing, all.

9.30.2014

INK - The Sixth Eren Tale

Super proud to share the newest Eren Tale - INK.


Eren Tales - a series of twelve short stories and photographs inspired by and working alongside Eren - is now halfway done. The first six tales - Shaman, Nightmare, Teeth, Mountain, Bridge and Ink - have been incredible fun to write and produce, and working with Brandon to make sure the tales and the artwork come together has been inspiring / fun / eye opening. Ink has a special place in my heart as the Eren Tale that comes out the same month as Eren was finally published. In fact, Ink ties directly into the book - but I won't give that away. To read all the tales, just head over to the website www.erentales.com.

9.25.2014

Eren's Book Launch and My Very Bookish Week

Man. It has been a crazy, happy, busy, never-to-be-repeated week. Sometimes it's amazing how much can happen in seven days, and believe me, this week has seen a lot. Last Thursday, my book came out. It was a truly spectacular feeling, a mix of relief and mild terror, and I celebrated by not working and generally being on Twitter. On Saturday we had Eren's launch party, and on Sunday I went to Brooklyn Book Festival. This post is a recap and a celebration of my very bookish week.

Book Meets World

Because Eren came out in the UK, but I'm living in the U.S., we didn't do a full bookshop launch. Instead, we threw open my parents-in-law's house and turned the place into an Eren-esque world. My wife, Ashley, did a stunning job decorating the rooms, and along with the food and the (much) wine, I did my first ever public reading (passable) and got to see the first ever reading by someone who knew what they were doing (my sister-in-lawish and drama teacher, Steph. It was marvelous). There was so much more, too - Raffle! Cheese! Helium balloons that make you talk funny! Proper magic all round.



The Story Jar, one of the illustrations from the book
The five Eren Tales published so far, with Brandon's five photos



Booklyn in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Book Festival's a huge deal. Last year was our first time going, and seeing speakers like Lois Lowry, Patrick Ness, and Lev Grossman made it more than worth it. Add to that the almost overwhelming number of publishers, presses, authors, literary companies, artists, and generally booky people who set up shop, and BKBF is worth checking out. Tired from the party the day before, we were - admitedly - a little less enthused that 2013, but listening to the new cast recording of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere made the drive a lot easier (even if Manhattan and Brooklyn driving made the whole thing a lot scarier). Highlights of this year include listening to RL Stine (yes, of Goosebumps fame), seeing Lev Grossman again (whose latest I am avoiding buying because my birthday is coming up, but ... argh) and the exciting addition of spicy Jamaican food that was amazing and made me and my wife tear up while listening to a poetry session.

What else did we do? We won free audiobooks (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Stardust, thank you very much) and chatted to One Story and PEN America, and generally had a good time. Behold:



It Continues

Every day this week someone has put up a review or a giveaway or a sample of Eren as part of the blog tour. Well, that's not slowing down, with posts scheduled across the web for another few weeks. Please do check out the sites that have agreed to take part. I explained all about it HERE and you can keep track of who's doing what using the tour banner.

And ... I think that's it. If you've read Eren, THANK YOU, and I would love to hear what you think, either on Goodreads or elsewhere. For those who want to check the book out, links are below. Thank you again to all who've made this a spectacular week. Here's to many more.

Eren is available now.