SFSwap – Dream-Downtime Ad-Blocker

In the middle of October I was trundling around twitter when I discovered that @FrogCroakley (he of Daniel Barker’s Birthday fame) was planning on setting up what could best be described as a writer’s cabal. The plan was that we’d all pitch in a prompt for a sci-fi story (no longer than 100 characters.) These prompts would then be randomised, redistributed and we’d have a week to churn out a story based on it. The story hard a hard limit of 1,000 words. Does this sound conceptually familiar? Obviously I was up for it. And thus I became embroiled in the relentless behemoth that would become SFSwap.

After some teeth gnashing and pondering (as my prompt was a real pig) I knocked something out in about an hour and a half. My story has since been posted and can be read in its entirety here. There’s also another 50 or so short stories up there, with perhaps another 14 or so yet to be published. And this is just for “Week 1.”

I also wound up doing a bit of editorial work to help Mister Croakley out, but that’s another story for another time. The pertinent points are that I had lots of fun and wrote something I didn’t hate. If you fancy joining in yourself either visit the SFSwap website or have a nose around the #SFSwap hashtag on twitter. If memory serves the current plan is for “Week 2” to start at the beginning of December.


Exercises in Verbumancy – Book Release!

Things have been quite quiet on the blog front here at Verbumancer Towers. This is because I has been away being industrious. For the past several months I have been slowly editing, proof-reading, type-setting, and generally tweaking my pictonaut wordascope back-catalogue. Last month, without much fanfare I released the results of my work into the wild.

Exercises in Verbumancy” is a short story anthology which contains all 42 of my original wordascopes covering September 2011 until February 2015, as well as 2 bonus stories which were also posted here during that time. That is a grand total of 44 short stories, weighing in at 60,590 words, and it is yours to download at Smashwords.com for no cost. That’s right, I am literally giving my work away. You will be charged nothing. No money shall leave your possession. It’s free. Devoid of cost. I will receive no remuneration. It is yours to take or not take as you see fit.

I͕͖̘͔̩̩̖T͚̼̜̬͙͈͆̽̇̽ͅ ͉̣͕̽̓I̜̤̤͎̗͋ͧ̂S̻͔̦͉̻̪̓̍ ͈ͪ̑̒̏ͦ͋̚F͇͚̽̍ͪRÈ̲̮̦͙E̦̹ͫ͊ͤ̊ͫ̅͒


I would be filled with sunshine and rainbows if you could download it and have a read. I would also appreciate reviews and comments (it can also be found on Goodreads) even if said reviews are “John, what are you even doing? What the fuck is this shit? – 0 stars.” Obviously I’d prefer it if everyone enjoyed it and thought it was wonderful. (I mean, if I don’t hate it, it can’t be all bad.) But everyone has their own tastes and opinions. Even if they are objectively wrong! (I’m really proud of my book, okay?)

Target Fixation

At this precise moment I am probably somewhere in the deepest, darkest Cotswolds, valiantly trying not to melt. June is rapidly drawing to a close and Summer has finally realised just how late it was running for work. It has been a while since I produced any new word based content for you to devour or ignore. This is a fact which my friend the Lady Tonksington Smythe did not fail to highlight. She requested that June be a month in which I got off my lazy-ass and actually wrote something again. I have used this gentle needling as an excuse to add 1,800 words to a short story which had been sitting unloved, and unfinished in my writer’s trunk for about a year. It represents the 4th instalment in what has accidentally become an eight and a half thousand words long series.

It joins The Starwatcher, the stand-alone piece Orange, and follows directly on from the end of The Watcher of Stars. It sees the (almost inevitable) return of the mysterious Gayane Al-Taftazânî, her hapless friend Almund Skeete, and the strange, wondrous science-fiction world they inhabit. The series was initially based on the famous “Starwatcher” image by the late Jean “Moebius” Giraud, but has since rapidly taken on a life of its own. This is the piece I cryptically hinted at two weeks ago, and it was a true joy to write and I adore every last bit of it. I hope you do too.


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Statistics and a Well Earned Rest

It has been 107 days since I called the Pictonaut Challenge to an end. Since then this blog has remained eerily silent; dead, but dreaming; trapped in an uneasily and restless slumber. This is because I decided that I needed a bit of a holiday from writing. After three and a half years of constant self-imposed deadlines I was getting a little burnt out and my mind had begun to fray at the edges. Writing had become less than easy and less than rewarding. So what have I been doing with myself? Not a great deal that could be counted as productive, that’s for sure. It’s been a delightful spell of general pottering, television, computer games and reading. All without the looming spectre of deadlines and expectations. The rest has done me good, and although I don’t expect to restart the Pictonaut Challenge any time soon it has made any writing I’ve chosen to do a lot easier. Instead of staring at a screen for an entire day, battering my brains out and only having 200 words to show for it, I’ve actually gotten things done. Only last week I managed to knock out 1,800 words over the course of a day without so much as breaking a sweat. It was a refreshing change and reminded me that writing doesn’t necessarily have to be hard. Once I’m satisfied that my convalescence is at and end I might even find the time to finish those bigger projects which have been living on the back-burner for far too long. But in lieu of any actual new content, and being a scientist at heart, I thought I’d dig into some of the statistics from the Pictonaut Challenge.

Full Pictonauts

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End of the Line

It is over. It is done. The end is here and upon us. We have reached our terminus; our final destination. Please remember to take all of your personal ideas with you when you leave the blog. Stories left unattended will be removed and destroyed by security services. It’s been a hell of a journey, but we’re done now. I’d offer you a timetable for the resumption of service, but I don’t have one. You’ll have to keep a weather eye on the horizon and listen to the whispers on the wind; watch for signs, portents, omens and anything that just looks plain weird. Because no matter how hard you may try, some things just won’t stay dead. Some things will claw their way back up from even the most Stygian bowels of the underworld. Although we might have reached the End of the Line. It is not necessarily The End. Opportunities and wonder abound to those will to find them.

42 - Feb 2015 - End of the Line - Andrei Pervukhin3

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February’s Pictonaut Challenge

With the arrival of February we enter the last vestiges of winter. The sharp green shoots of spring have already begun to break through the chill, dead earth. With the end of winter within our sights my thoughts turn to one of the uncomfortable truths of life: “There is an end to all things.” Nothing is eternal and nothing will last for ever. So it is with mixed emotions I’ve decided to finally call an end to the Pictonaut Challenge. At least for now. I’ve been throwing myself at this challenge for three and a half years, and this month’s will be the 42nd iteration of the challenge. This being a most auspicious number I though now would be as good a time as any.

I want to quit while I’m ahead, to get out before I start to feel bitter and before writing starts to feel too much like work, or a resented obligation. The Pictonaut Challenge will more than likely rear its head again at some point in the future, but for now I just want a rest.

So here we find ourselves, at The End of the Line.

42 - Feb 2015 - End of the Line - Andrei Pervukhin3

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Beneath a Square Sun

How quickly January has gone. The passage of time continues to confuse and mystify me. I mean, how can January be over already? Where’s all that time gone? It’s relentless, it never pauses for rest of respite, it just keeps on coming; an unstoppable temporal juggernaut. But gone it has, and the dawn of February will soon be upon us. Tradition dictates that I now talk about the weather. There has been a lot of snow. Most of north-east of America was recently buried under numerous feet of snow. The same is also true for the United Kingdom. Except where I live. I didn’t get any snow. I’m feeling quite bitter about this if I’m honest. I like snow.

If like me you feel betrayed by the weather, please feel free to assuage your sorrows with some short stories.

41 - Jan 2015 - Beneath a Square Sun

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