It’s that time of year when we look back and wonder, “What the hell have I done with the past year?” That’s how it usually goes for me anyway.
On the writing front, I have over the course of the year updated my three lists: publishers of short fiction, long fiction, and book reviewers. The short fiction list now has over 150 publishers on there, and the book reviewers over 100.
In the past few months, I launched a podcast called The Fantasy Writers’ Toolshed along with my good writing pal, JM Williams. It’s gone down pretty damn well so far, and it’s turned out to be a lot of fun too. Episode two has just landed, and before the end of the year, there’ll be a mini-episode revealing the results of a poll I carried out last week—is the novel dead?
2019 also saw the release of my first non-fiction book, A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook, and my first fiction book, Flying on the Ground, both of which have gone down better than I could have hoped for. They’re currently on sale for Christmas and make fine little stocking fillers if I may say so.
On the blogging front, it’s been more of a quieter year for me in terms of content, though my visitor figures are way up compared to 2018. Weird. 3 posts garnered significantly more interest than any other: men writing women, getting to grips with the passive voice, and the results of a poll on the most overused clichés in the fantasy genre.
I was staggered by how much interest this brilliant guest post by Savannah Cordova generated. The number of views it received dwarfed everything else. Why was it so popular? Well, I think it ties into what I said at the time:
Some men still seem to have a problem writing women, and most of the time I think it’s inadvertent. Simply misguided. But that’s no excuse. A common issue that I see crop up is the objectifying descriptions of women. Bizarre similes for describing boobs, over-zealous descriptions of body shape. I’m sure if women wrote in detail about men’s cocks and bollocks there’d be something of a stir. And a complaint would be, why is this relevant? I think the same has to be said about some of the features men focus a little too much on. If you haven’t already done so, check out r/menwritingwomen.
In her post, Savannah deftly tackles issues of substituting appearance for personality (a very common occurrence), over-emphasising particular physical features, using female characters merely to support male characters, depicting friendships between women characters as shallow and catty, and a very practical one—not getting female beta readers! The advice is excellent and deeply insightful. Well worth a read.
What do you think? Share your two cents in the comments.
Now this one was published in December 2018, but I updated it significantly in or around May or June. Passive voice was one thing I struggled with massively in the early days. No matter how much I tried I simply couldn’t wrap my head around it. Man, did I feel like a fool.
So that’s why I set out to vanquish this grammatical foe once and for all. And I put together this handy guide based on all of my notes. Lots of people have messaged me to say how helpful they found it, which is probably why it’s sitting at number two on the list. You may well find it helpful too. It covers the active voice, the passive voice, the problems with passive voice and instances in which it’s fine to use.
Back in July, I undertook another of my research projects. Around the time a lot of people on social media and the like were complaining about cliches in fantasy, so I began a poll to see which one readers loathed the most. What do you think came top?
This topic cropped up again more recently in episode one of our podcast, The Fantasy Writers’ Toolshed, which you can listen to now by clicking here.
So that wraps up another year on the blogging front. Thank you to everybody who read, liked, commented and followed me and my scribblings. I sincerely appreciate it and hope you’ve so far found it worthwhile!
2020 promises much, with my debut novel set for release in Spring, two short story collections in the offing for later in the year, and a Viking/Ireland-inspired children’s book. A mixed bag to say the least.
I’d like to wish you all a truly special Christmas and a very happy New Year! Roll on 2020!
If you enjoyed any of this and would like to stay in touch, please join my writing community! Everybody who joins receives a free ebook on the craft of writing, lists of publishers of short and long fantasy fiction, and a list of book reviewers. All you need to do is fill out the form below!