Rejects’ Convention

Breaking news. Just had another short story, The Eden Project rejected by Bridgehouse for their open anthology. No, it’s not a story about plants in giant wasp hives. One of these days the breaking news will be that we’ve had something published but as we gallop towards the fourth month of the year and no publications, our target of twelve is looking as shaky as David Cameron’s performance when questioned about gay rights. Were we the only ones laughing at that? He was about as smooth as being dragged across rough terrain while hog tied behind a jet ski. Sorry, still wiping tears of laughter from our eyes. If that man can’t answer some simple questions without contradicting himself, how’s he gonna lead the country? If we gets into power, we’re campaigning for Welsh independence. Personally, we don’t want him in power. One, because he has a face we want to punch and two because he wants to repeal the Hunting Act, because ‘it doesn’t work’. You could argue that neither do the Burglary Act, the Homicide Act and any other act, ‘cos let’s face it, those crimes still go on. But maybe we should repeal the Hunting Act and instead of chasing down foxes and tearing them apart, we should hunt Tories. Maybe they won’t think it’s such fun when they’ve got a pack of hounds chasing them. We’ll even break with our black tradition and don red jackets. Anyway, we’re still awaiting the fate of our other pieces of work flying the flag for Team Raven. Speaking of Team Raven, you have until Friday to nominate us for a blog award. If you only vote for one thing this year, vote for us. We don’t have a slick manifesto, a great track record, or photos of us kissing babies. We can’t promise you good times, or that we’ll change the world, but we might annoy a few literary greats. Speaking of which, we saw Paul Magrs’ name on the blog nominations list. This isn’t good news for Team Raven. Has anyone read his books about Brenda, Frankenstein’s Monster’s wife? They’re brilliant. We’ve got the first three and will get the fourth one, Hell’s Belles. It’s out April 1st. When we saw his name on the list, we knew it was over for our bid to win, but he’ll be put into the published author category and epic failures that we are will be in the unpublished category if we survive to the next round. So if you play one prank this April Fools’ Day, vote for us. It’ll make the Blog Awards people (and the nation) laugh. Speaking of April 1st, our mate Neil is considering plucking up the courage to do a poetry reading in the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff on Thurs. We’ll be going to watch and maybe we’ll participate next month. Went to have a recce of the place last night as we’ve never been there. Naturally we got lost, as is our way. Thing is, we even knew where we were going and had a map. It’s not our fault the building got up and ran off when we got near. We eventually found it by accident. Wow. Did not expect such a posh place to be smack in the middle of Canton. No offence, Canton, but we were expecting just a plain brick building, but it’s all brick, glass and sliding doors. They’re gonna take one look at us and toss our sorry arses out then stick our mugshots up so we never darken their door again. Many people have tried.

We’re the new face of failure

Ok. We weren’t shortlisted for the Times short story award. Weren’t even longlisted. It’s just rejection after rejection. We imagine this is what it’d be like if we ever went speed dating. Are we bitter? Only about as bitter as a bucket full of lemons. Has anyone seen the episode of The Simpsons where Homer and Marge go to a sweet convention and Homer eats the world’s sourest sourball? (The funniest moment in Simpsons history) yeah, that’s what our faces were like. Ok, not really. We knew we wouldn’t come close. So long as we weren’t last. Maybe they’ll do a shortlist for the worst entries. We’re bound to win that one. When you’ve got a longlist of prize winning authors, it’s no surprise that a couple of literary frauds such as ourselves didn’t make the cut. We sent a 7K word version of the 4K Missed Call short story that was published December 08, which we then turned into a novel. So we’ve done what’s best in these kick in the teeth situations, sent out another story. This time, the contender into the ring to slug it out against heavyweights is Daughters of Annwn, the 6K word story we started writing while Cat’s knee was being used for a gory treasure hunt. It’d be like Amir Khan going a couple of rounds with Joe Calzaghe. Our money’s on the little guy. (Us). It’s just been emailed to Bridgehouse for their young adult anthology. We’ve already sent them a story for this, Deadly Reflections, which has been round the publishing block more times than a serial killer trolling for unsuspecting victims. But Deadly Reflections wasn’t originally written with a teenage audience in mind, DOA has been. In fact, we liked it so much, we’re turning it into a teenage novel. We’re on chapter 4 at the moment – not bad, considering we started it on Thursday. But then the first 4 chapters have already been written in the short story version, we just split it up and extended the scenes. We did exactly the same with MC and another novel, Legion of the Damned. DOA will be our first attempt at teenage fiction, so we just have to remember to keep the violence down and cut out the swearing. We haven’t written a novel since we finished MC in Feb 09, as we’ve been busy redrafting our other ones and writing short stories. We’ve missed the excited shiver that pole dances around our spines when starting a new novel that you just don’t get when writing a short story. Don’t get us wrong, we love writing short stories, but nothing beats that rush of creating a new folder on the computer. It used to be when starting a new A4 notebook when we wrote long hand ’til we realised it saved time writing it straight on the computer, rather than typing up our illegible scrawl. We have absolutely no idea what DOA the novel will be about, as we’re not planners. We prefer to see where the story and characters take us, rather than planning it in meticulous detail. We know some writers do it that way, but our view is, if you know the exact route you’re going to take and everything that happens along the way, what’s the point in writing the story?  We like not knowing what will happen or how the characters will turn out. This may explain how when driving somewhere, we always manage to get lost (often ending up in Newport – not sure how that happens). We arrive at our destination eventually, but at least we’ve had an adventure along the way. And what’s life without adventure?

Just a quick reminder, the deadline for the author blog awards is April 2nd. Go to www.authorblogawards.com to nominate us. So far, we’re up to 5 that we know of and have just been badgering one of our supermarket buddies to nominate us. He’s been promised a position of power for when we take over the world. There are a few more positions up for grabs if you’d like to join our Raven army, but you have to nominate us first. We can win this, people! Who’s with us? Speaking of epic battles, we just watched Wales thrash Italy in the 6 Nations. Fantastic game. Shame they couldn’t play like that throughout the tournament. We’ve also been enjoying watching the Under 20s play. Unlike the senior side, they’ve only lost 2 matches, so we can look forwards to those youngsters becoming a part of the senior side one day. We’ve seen the future of Welsh rugby and it’s handsome.

American Dream

We’ve just emailed our latest short story, The Ferryman, to Dark Recesses magazine. It was originally a 17oo word story for Writing Magazine’s ‘Last train’ short story competition, but surprise, surprise, it didn’t win. Might still have been short listed (talons crossed). No doubt if we ever win a Writing Magazine story competition, hell will explode from sheer shock and spew forth its demons on the world. Apologies in advance. So we lengthened The Ferryman to 4ooo words and thought we’d try the magazine market instead. Now we just have to wait 16 weeks to hear if they want to buy it. Is there any other profession where you do all the hard work then have to wait three+ months to find out whether you’ll be paid for your efforts? And it’s not like they pay you by the hour. It’s well below minimum wage, but that’s the price we pay to be published. It’s only the tiny minority that can command six figure advances, while the rest of us have to be content with 1-5 cents per word and the thrill of seeing our work in print. But then six figure salaries isn’t why we do this. If we wanted that, we’d get a job in banking (except we hate maths) or something equally dull and undeserving of such a high salary. We do it not for the money, but to silence the Muse that plagues us, to satisfy the burning desire to write that surges through our veins and because let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun than living in the real world. We’re still waiting to hear back about stories we sent off in January and February. So far, our aim to have 12 pieces of work published this year looks a bit ambitious. It’s now month 3 and…nothing. But at least we’re on track to have sent off 52 pieces of work – one for every week of the year. Our total count so far is 20.

At the moment we’re reading Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Graveyard Book’ and Tonya Hurley’s ‘Ghostgirl’. Having never read an award winning book, we thought Neil Gaiman’s would be a good place to start – it has a graveyard, what more could you want? It’s a very interesting, intriguing book. We would’ve loved it as kids, as we don’t remember there being any books set in graveyards when we were young. God, don’t we sound old? Bod makes a good hero and Silas is a great mysterious guardian, the kind of guy you’d like to have watching your back. Is he a vampire? One of the best details is how whenever Bod passes a grave of someone, it gives their epitaph. It just adds to the book’s difference, which is always a good thing. Tonya Hurley’s ‘Ghostgirl’ to sum up in one word – hilarious. We knew from the blurb it would be, as you learn that the ghost girl of the story, Charlotte, chokes to death on a gummy bear. Blurbs are usually unreliable, hooks to draw you in then betray you in the worst possible way, but we’re not disappointed with ‘Ghostgirl.’ The narrative is ingeniously funny, Charlotte is a perfectly frustrated geek who wants to be popular, which leads to plenty of brilliant disasters, the most notable one being her undignified demise at the hands of a red gummy bear. Another good thing about the book is the other heroine, Scarlet, a Goth who Charlotte befriends after her death. It’s nice to see a Goth who isn’t portrayed as a world-hating, suicide-inviting 2D stereotype (not that we’re biased). Scarlet is funny, confident and ballsy. It’s also good that the gorgeous jock hero (Charlotte’s object of desire and the reason she’s refusing to accept being dead) sees Scarlet for what she is and likes her, despite the risk to his social status. He also dumps her spiteful, self-obsessed, cheerleading sister for her. We all know this doesn’t happen in real life, but at least it happens somewhere. In real life, the gorgeous popular boys aren’t throwing longing glances at the outcasts, they’re throwing stones.

Rocky Horror

Last night we went to see Rocky Horror with our mum & sister in the New Theatre in Cardiff. It was BRILLIANT! Here we are all dressed up and ready to party. Don’t dream it, be it! The actors were amazing, the songs catchy and the atmosphere electric. We didn’t know any of the actors, but they were faultless, hilarious and really talented. One of the most incredible things was how Rocky managed to carry Frank N Furter whilst wearing stilettos. We’ve just about mastered running in ours but wouldn’t attempt to carry a bloke in them. Maybe next week. David Bedella, who played Frank N Furter was simply sensational. Have to say, we weren’t disappointed with Dominic Tribuzio who played Rocky. A bona fide hotty and we don’t usually like blonds. He was an excellent dancer, at one point back flipping across the stage in his leopard print pants and gold boots. He somehow managed to make it look cool. He was much hotter than the guy who played him in the film. Actually, we think the whole production was better than the film. Watching the film, we just thought, ‘this is weird’. Seeing it performed live, we thought ‘this is fabulous’. Definitely giving it 10/10 and if it comes back to Cardiff, we’re going again. Yes, we did get up and do the Time Warp. Cat was determined to wear our killer heels we gave each other as birthday presents, specifically for Rocky Horror. Not sure her crutches complimented her outfit, but she managed to pull it off with style. There were a number of people dressed up, less than we thought there would be. We were surprised by the amount of ‘normal’ and older people there were in the audience. Spotted one really hot guy in a red basque, fishnets, black pants and a pink feather boa. We were thrilled, but unfortunately, weren’t anywhere near him. One stewardess very kindly let us escape via the back stairs and stage door entrance, as we were waiting for the crush to go before Cat hopped down the stairs. Everything about it was fantastic, but it’s the pelvic thrusts that really drive you insaaaaannne. Let’s do the Time Warp again!

Blog off!

Nominations for the Author Blog Awards open today and run until April 2nd. You can nominate at www.authorblogawards.com You have to sign up, but it’ll only take a few minutes. What’s a few minutes compared to a lifetime of glory? We’ve already signed up and voted. No, it’s not sad. Somebody has to vote for us. Well known authors will have millions of fans voting for them. Nobody knows us. Mention C L Raven and people quoth “Nevermore.” We can count one one hand (talons?) the amount of people who probably read this blog and they’re known to us personally so probably only read it out of politeness and promises of a share in the Raven empire – which has so far amount to £25 royalties and we already spent it on a laptop adaptor. So if you do read this blog and aren’t personally known to us, feel free to drop a comment, even if it’s just to say hi, so that we know we’re not talking to ourselves. It gets lonely up here in Raven Towers with nobody but the rats for company. Ok, he’s a hamster but he’s almost the size of a rat. Back to the blog awards. We’re not ashamed to beg for votes. Please please please please please please please please please PLEASE vote for us. If we win, we promise, no teary thank you speeches. We’ll save those for when we win any bad writing awards. Y’know, like the Golden Raspberries they have as opposed to the Oscars. We’re a shoe in for one of those. Raspberries that is, not Oscars. Talent shows prove it’s not about being the best, it’s about getting the most votes. We’re an oil spill in the sea of talent. What’s the worst than can happen? We might win. Let’s make 2010 the year of the Raven! (Those who nominate us will be given staff positions when we take over the world. Those who don’t…TRAITORS WILL BE PERSECUTED!)

Our star sign says at the moment we can be very persuasive. This is a blatant lie. We can’t persuade editors and publishers to publish our work, we can’t persuade hot guys to come out with us, hell, we can’t even persuade our cats to eat the food we give them! They look at it like we’ve put worms in their bowls then remind us in no uncertain terms that they used to be worshipped. Cats – such god complexes. But we’ll give it a go at persuading you to nominate us for an Author Blog Award. There’s two categories, published and unpublished. We think we’d probably be in the unpublished one, because as Fall Out Boy say in ‘I’m like a lawyer in the way I’m always trying to get you off (me and you)’ – ‘we’re the new face of failure.’ Think of this as an epic battle – one that’ll go down in history, like the Spartans against that massive army. We’re Alexander the Great and you’re our loyal Spartans, prepared to go into battle against the mighty armies that other famous, brilliant authors have. We’re a raggedy bunch, ill-trained, ill-equipped, ill-prepared (yes, we know it’s unprepared, but we’re going for alliteration here) but we have fire in our bellies, passion in our hearts and an overwhelming desire to WIN! Hey, it worked for Braveheart.

Please nominate us for an Author Blog Award. Please nominate us for an Author Blog Award. Please nominate us for an Author Blog Award.

Are we persuading you yet?

World Book Day

Just a quick note celebrating World Book Day. Firstly celebrating it by getting back to work. Cat’s anaesthetic and Tramadol have worn off and she’s now compus mentis again. Was she ever in the first place? Thought we’d tell you about the books we’re reading. We’ve just finished Stuart MacBride’s ‘Blind Eye’ and Mike Shevdon’s ‘Sixty One Nails.’ Both were brilliant. We love Stuart MacBride’s work. His characters and ways of describing people are just fantastic and DI Steel has us laughing ourselves to a heart attack. He is fast becoming one of our favourite authors. We’re currently reading Kelley Armstrong’s ‘Stolen’ and Richelle Mead’s ‘Storm Born.’ We have Kelley’s ‘Bitten’ and Richelle’s ‘Succubus Heat’ and thoroughly enjoyed those so thought we’d try more of their work and we’re not disappointed. Both use strong heroines who don’t shy away from a fight and can hold their own in a man’s world, without being the stereotypical ‘ball breaker’ most strong women comes across as. Other writers we’ve recently discovered who we love are Jack Kerley, James McGee and Cheslea Cain, whose female serial killer Gretchen is a truly fascinating character. We also recently read Marie Phillips’ ‘Gods Behaving Badly’ which was hilarious and refreshingly different.

Children today are dressing up as book characters in schools. Our favourite author as kids was Roald Dahl as he appealed to our gory natures like no other author could. We read The Twits so much it’s fallen apart and his Cinderella poem in Revolting Rhymes still has us in stitches, especially when the Prince chops off the ugly sisters heads.  Our favourite story when we were really young was Burglar Bill by Allan and Janet Alberg and we plan to buy a new version for our baby niece to enjoy as she seems to share our sense of humour. Poor kid. Another of our favourites was I Should Have Stayed in Bed by Joan Lexau. Does anyone have any favourite children’s books or characters that they still love today? We’d love to hear about them. Maybe we can get a list going.

As for favourite characters we’ve created, one of our favourites has to be The Collector from our novel Majesty of Darkness (unpublished of course). He’s the grim reaper, but has all the latest gadgets, he’s rude, mischevious, rebellious, hilarious, has an unhealthy obsession with celebrities and he loves a good chase. He is unlike any other character we’ve given life to. Not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Guess we’ll know when Tim Burton agrees to turn the book into an animation and convinces James Earl Jones to voice The Collector. We’ve even got the collectible figures planned, complete with accessories. Maybe even doing MOD: The Musical. But first, publication.

We once decided to read the classics to see what all the fuss was about, so here’s a quick review. Our opinions might not make us popular, but if we wanted to win a popularity contest, we’d get blonde hair extentions, fake boobs and strut around in skimpy bikinis bleating about world peace. Oh wait, that’s beauty contests. George Orwell’s ‘1984’ – scary because even today you could the sense his vision of the future is still possible, yet in our opinion, it could’ve been written better. Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ – bloody brilliant and the only book to ever have icy spiders using our spines as spiral staircases, despite the amount of horror books we’ve read. We’ve never seen a horror film that scares us, but this book lingers like an unexorcised ghost. Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ – again another good book, you can really empathise with the monster and understand his rage and love for his ‘Father’. Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ – so BORING! Thank god it was a short story. As for the other stories in that collection – barely understood a single word of them as they were written in dialect. Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ – had no idea what this book was about before reading it and was plesantly surprised. It’s an interesting concept – our actions and sins are hidden from the outside world, you cannot tell by looking at a person what they have done, but what if our wrong doings were shown physically on a portrait? Would we be able to look at ourselves? Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ – are there more vile and despicable characters than Heathcliff and Catherine? Spent the whole book hoping they’d meet brutal and bloody ends. They didn’t deserve love, they deserved to be decapitated. Catherine’s daughter Cathy was a spoilt little madam who needed a good slap and definitely didn’t deserve the love of Hareton, who grew up tormented by Heathcliff just for his twisted sadistic desires. Hareton’s the only decent character in the book, despite Heathcliff’s determination to ruin him. As for Heathcliff being a romantic hero? We’d rather have dinner with Hannibal Lecter.

So celebrate World Book Day by reading your favourite book or discovering new ones, maybe trying authors you wouldn’t normally read and prove the doom mongorers wrong by keeping the book trade alive.

Operation: Wounded Knee

We’ve had an eventful day. Cat (the C in C L Raven – she’s the one with the spiral fringe) had to have an arthroscopy on her knee. It’s basically a camera in her knee to find out why it hasn’t recovered since she injured it November 08. Who says exercise is good for you? She’d orginally gone for an MRI, but couldn’t have one because she still had a remnent of rust in her eye from derusting our cars, so the arthroscopy was a treasure hunt. But a lot more gory. She had it done in Llandough, which is the other side of Cardiff from us, but the staff there were really friendly. Lynx, (the L in C L Raven – the one with the plaits) was stuck in the reception waiting room. Luckily we took our MP3 Players, Writing Magazine, books and paper to continue writing the short story, Daughters of Annwn we started on Monday. She went in at 11, went for the op at 1:30 and was discharged at 4. She managed to write about a page before going under the knife but has felt too sick to write after so we’ll take this as a sick day. They diagnosed something called a plica, which is excess tissue that had to be shaved off and a blister on the thigh bone, which they didn’t touch because it would mean cutting away cartilidge and drilling into the bone to make it bleed to form a new lining, which won’t grow the same as the one that’s come away, causing the blister. So the consultant wasn’t keen on doing that. It would also mean she’d be on crutches for 6 weeks, rather than the couple of days she has them for now. So we’ll see how it goes. An arrow was drawn on her leg by the doctor. It wasn’t there to remind Cat which way up she goes. We removed these bandages Thursday night, ‘cos Cat’s going to see the nurse tomorrow and mum wouldn’t let us photograph the great unveiling, so we did a dry run so we could record the momentous occasion. Don’t bring up your tea.The Grand Unveiling