Jonathan Pinnock - Writer of Stuff


Category: Performances (page 1 of 5)

Housekeeping News

When I started having stuff published, I resisted the idea of having my own Facebook page, because it seemed a bit vain. Which is odd, really, because I’m actually quite a vain person. However, when I was campaigning to get MRS DARCY VERSUS THE ALIENS out in the world, it became a necessity, so I set up a page for her, and that became the page for the book when it finally did get published.

When DOT DASH and TAKE IT COOL came out, I followed the same logic and set up individual pages for them. However, when it came to LOVE AND LOSS AND OTHER IMPORTANT STUFF, I decided not to create a new page because it was all getting a bit out of hand.

The trouble was, the whole point of having a Facebook page is to encourage more engagement, and I needed to face up to the fact that what I really needed was an Author Page. Fortunately, it turns out that you can actually merge Facebook pages. But it’s not entirely straightforward.

The first point is that you’ll keep all the likes and followers from both of the pages you choose to merge, but you’ll lose all the posts from the page you choose to merge in. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it’s worth bearing in mind.

Secondly, you can only merge pages that have similar names. How similar? Well, I’ll come to that.

Thirdly, given Facebook’s Byzantine navigation system, the only way you’ll find out how to merge two pages is by Googling “How to merge two Facebook pages”. Alternatively, you may just want to bookmark this link.

So how did it go?

This is what I did.

  1. I renamed “Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens” to “Jonathan Pinnock, Author”.
  2. I renamed “Dot Dash” to “Jonathan Pinnock, Dot Dash”.
  3. I renamed “Take It Cool” to “Jonathan Pinnock, Take It Cool”.
  4. I then tried to merge “Jonathan Pinnock, Author” with “Jonathan Pinnock, Dot Dash”.
  5. It told me there was a request to merge already pending for “Jonathan Pinnock, Dot Dash”. It took me a while, but I found out eventually that what this misleading error message actually means is “you have to wait a week after changing a page’s name before you can do anything about merging it”.
  6. So I waited a week and tried again.
  7. This time, it told me that the page names weren’t similar enough. So I changed “Jonathan Pinnock, Dot Dash” to “Jonathan Pinnock, Author 1”, and “Jonathan Pinnock, Take It Cool” to “Jonathan Pinnock, Author 2”.
  8. I waited another week.
  9. Finally, this morning, I tried again and, joy of joys, it all went through.

So I now have a bright new shiny Facebook Author Page with all the likes and (slightly confused) followers merged together. Here it is.

Consider this a public information service for any other authors out there wondering whether it might be worth doing this. It’s certainly do-able, but it takes a little time and patience.

And to reward you for persevering this far, here’s me performing a massively puerile new poem for kids, entitled “The Humungstrous Fart”. I hope you like it.

Novel Nights

Now I know I should really be out and about promoting my poetry collection, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to stand up in public and read from The Next Big Thing But One at this month’s excellent Novel Nights event. I did make a slight faux pas with the first extract I submitted, as for some unfathomable reason (probably something to do with testing my own comfort zones), I sent in a section with a lot of Very Bad Words. Fortunately, I was given a second chance and this time my piece was accepted, and I duly put on my pink performing shoes and stepped out, alongside the excellent Clare Snook and Mark Lewis.

For those of you who are interested, here’s a recording of my bit:

The main feature was a chap called Dan Jeffries, who gave a fascinating talk about crowdfunding and marketing, containing much food for thought. This inspired me to make a bit more effort about how I present myself online, as I’ve got a bit lax since the bold days of blogging and promoting Mrs Darcy. The first step is to combine the various Facebook pages for my first three books into a single author page, although this is not quite as straightforward as it might first seem. If you want to merge two pages, they need to have very similar names, and if you change the name of them in order to facilitate this, they seem to get locked for a while before you can actually go ahead with the merge. We’ll see what happens. I have at least changed the Mrs Darcy page to a more generic one, with a nice new banner featuring all four books. If you haven’t already liked it, please do give it some love.

Meanwhile, the reviews for Love and Loss and Other Important Stuff have started to trickle in, and everything is looking very positive. If you are a poetry blogger and you’d like to take a look, do get in touch and I might be able to spare you a copy.

Liars’ League at Sevenoaks

Last Wednesday I delivered my 40000 word (well, 41439, words to be accurate) manuscript to Bath Spa for marking. Since then I have been tidying up a few things that got slightly out of hand during that final burst of activity, and now it’s time to breathe some life back into this thing.

At some point, I’m going to blog about the strange and wonderful world of Creative Writing MA courses, and I’ve also got a review or two lined up. But first, I thought I’d gently ease into things with a brief report on Tuesday’s Liars’ League event at the Sevenoaks Literary Celebration.

I’ve been submitting stuff to Liars’ League since 2008. Sometimes they pick my stuff, sometimes they don’t (which is, incidentally, what makes it especially satisfying when they do pick one). Anyway, back in May, they picked a story of mine called “Ventriloquism for Dummies”. Unfortunately I didn’t get there on the night, so when I heard that it was also going to be read again at a special LL night in Sevenoaks featuring stories from all eight years of the League, I was determined to go along.

I was so glad I did. Clive Greenwood gave the piece an absolutely superb reading, bringing out every nuance of the story. In fact, every single reader was excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. What’s more, there was a decent sized audience – well in excess of 100, I would have thought. Eat your heart out, all you who say the short story is in trouble.

Anyway, judge for yourself. Here’s Clive:

And here’s a picture of the assembled actors, plus an author or two. One of these days I may learn to look like a normal human being when I’m having my picture taken.



Meanwhile, in other news, I almost forgot to mention that TAKE IT COOL got a very nice review from the lovely Marija Smits:

This book is fascinating and as creative non-fiction goes, a highly-enjoyable read. The author is a fine writer and very, very funny; he has the kind of self-deprecating, weird humour that really tickles me and I laughed out loud at many parts.

One final thing: if you’re interested in a signed copy of MRS DARCY VERSUS THE ALIENS, I’ve reduced the UK price to £4.99 including P&P. Bargain, I say. Bargain. GET IN.

This and That

14-mockupIn the immortal words of Granny Weatherwax, I aten’t dead (in case you were wondering). I’ve been quite busy with one thing or another – some of it to do with the day job, some of it to do with writing and the rest to do with real life – which means the blog has had to take a bit of a back seat.

But here are a few things that have happened recently, writing-wise.

My current work in progress, which I will refer to by the tantalising initials of TTAAAP, has now hit somewhere around the 45K word mark. Of this, around 25K is eligible to be considered for my final MA submission of a 40K manuscript (basically because the first 20K is mostly stuff that has already been used in earlier submissions). I would dearly love to say loads more about TTAAAP, but I won’t, because I’m superstitious like that.

Out of the blue, TAKE IT COOL had a nice review from David Hebblethwaite (I’d forgotten I’d even sent him a copy). His final remark sums up both the appeal and the problem of the book in a single sentence:

Take It Cool tells an intriguing story, whatever your immediate interest in its subject matter.

I think I’m going to have to accept that TAKE IT COOL was always a long shot. But I’m still pleased it’s out there.

Issue 14 of the very stylish Structo magazine is now available, including (amongst others) my story “The Picture of Mrs Tandogan”.


I think this may be my favourite story of the moment. Except possibly that one. Or that one. Anyway, it’s good to see it finding such a nice home.

Finally, my story “Ventriloquism for Dummies”, which was read at Liars’ League back in May, has now been selected to be read at the Sevenoaks Literary Celebration in October. I think I might try to get there this time.

Flashing in Bristol

BristolFlash Readings (Updated)As you can see from the flyer to the left, I will be celebrating National Flash Fiction Day this coming Saturday by performing at Foyles in Bristol, along with loads of other totally awesome people (is that really Adam Marek in there?). It should be an utterly ace evening and what’s more it’s completely free! So if you’re close to Bristol (say, no less than a day’s travel away), you have no excuse whatsoever not to turn up.

In other news, a couple of weeks back I was pleased to hear I’d made the longlist for this year’s Short Fiction magazine competition. This is the second longlist appearance for the story in question this year, although this is a slightly more compact longlist than the one for the Fish Short Story Prize. The shortlist is announced in July.

I’ve been meaning to blog in more detail about my MA but I haven’t quite had the time yet, and I probably won’t for a while as I am currently buried deep inside my manuscript. I’ve calculated that I need to average 500 words per working day between now and the end of September. I’m currently hitting 1000 a day, so things are on track so far. It could yet all go horribly wrong, though.

Ventriloquism for Dummies

So where do you get your ideas from, eh? Traditionally this is the question that writers dread, although I actually find it quite fascinating. In fact I went so far as to set up an entire Wiki devoted to the story behind the story for every single one in Dot Dash. (Not sure if this indicates vanity or obsessiveness or – more likely – a combination of both.)

Sometimes the process is a lot simpler. A title arrives, unbidden, in your head, just as you are about to walk to the station for your daily commute. By the end of the walk, the bare bones of the story are there, just waiting for you to flesh them out a bit. This was how ‘Ventriloquism for Dummies’ came into being, back in the days when I had a regular commute. I submitted it here or there but it didn’t quite work and no-one was interested in publishing it.

A few years later I noticed that Liars’ League had a forthcoming theme called ‘Master & Servant’ and my old story seemed to be a perfect fit. So I took it out of the drawer, shaved getting on for a quarter off its length and simplified the horrendously complicated ending. This turned it into a much better story, which was duly accepted, subject to some very helpful editorial suggestions.

So here it is, read superbly by the excellent Tony Bell. Hope you like it.

Hello, I’m Back!

Whoops. There seems to have been a bit of a hiatus there. No real reason, apart from being generally disorganised. So here are a few things that have happened recently:

I’ve had a couple of Twitter fictions published, at Twiction Addiction and Confettifall respectively.

The recordings from my recent appearances at BristolCon Fringe and Story Fridays Feral have been put online. I put in another appearance last month at BristolCon Fringe, for Fringe in a Flash, although the recording from that hasn’t been put up yet. And speaking of Bristol, here’s a nice passing mention in a piece on Bristol SF writers.

TAKE IT COOL has been edited, proof-read and finally typeset (coincidentally by my chum, the excellent Calum Kerr), and will be published on July 14th. I’ve now reached that point with the book where I’m completely and utterly convinced that no-one is going to buy it, no-one is going to review it and it’s all going to be horribly embarrassing. This is entirely normal.

I’ve reactivated the Hiveminding blog, now that my bees seem to have survived the winter. If bees are your thing (or indeed if they aren’t), do take a look.

And then I’ve got to think about what to write next. The problem, as ever, is not a lack of ideas. There are just too many things I want to do, and none of them has any continuity with anything I’ve done before. So what’s new, then?

The Stinging Fly and Other Stuff

Issue_027_cov_0The Spring edition of the Irish literary magazine The Stinging Fly has just been published, and what a lovely thing it is. It’s always nice to appear in print, and I’m especially chuffed that my odd little magical realist flash “The Meaning of the Rabbit” has been included in Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s flash fiction showcase, along with loads of other cool people’s work.

I do hope that last Monday’s BristolCon fringe audience appreciate that magical realism reference, by the way.

The excellent Short Review have also put up an interview I did with them about DOT DASH and other stuff. I quote George Saunders in it, which just goes to show how hip I am.

If you’re near Bath this Friday, do come along to Story Fridays at 7:30PM in Burdall’s Yard, where I will be reading “Nature’s Banquet” as part of their “Feral” evening. More – ahem – magical realism.

Finally, I had an urge the other day to start submitting some TwitFic again, and I’ve just had a couple of acceptances, from Confettifall and Twiction Addiction. They’ll both be appearing in April, and I’ll give you a nudge when they do.

The Sound of My Voice

One thing they don’t tell you when you start getting into writing is that whether you like it or not, you’re going to end up having to perform your work too. It’s an essential part of the marketing and self-promotion process. There is, however, nothing more off-putting than going to a reading and hearing a mumbled, gabbled, incoherent performance, so it’s worth devoting some effort into getting it right – even if, like me, the last time you performed on stage was at school. And in my case at least, that was a loooong time ago.

Unfortunately, you can practice all you like at home and in front of friends or your writers’ group, perhaps, but the point at which you really start to learn is when you stand up in front of a live audience of strangers and try to convince them that what you’ve written is worth their attention. So over the last few years I’ve sought out opportunities to read my work and the odd thing is that I’ve begun to really enjoy it. There have, of course, been one or two duff efforts – times when I’ve wished the ground would swallow me up – but they’re all learning experiences. But when you get it right, there is nothing quite like the buzz you get from hearing an audience react to something you’ve written. And of course, if you have merchandise (i.e. books) to sell, the better the performance, the more units you shift.

So here are a couple of recent recordings. The first is from the Open Mic night at The Swan in Wedmore. It’s about twelve and a half minutes long:

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And here’s one from the most recent Acoustic Night Bristol. Much better sound quality, and only a couple of minutes long:

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Finally, here’s something a bit different. It’s a kind of audio story that I put together, and I guess it’s my attempt to try to explore the area left vacant by the likes of Ivor Cutler and Vivan Stanshall. If that isn’t too presumptuous. It probably is, isn’t it? Ah well.

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Forthcoming Appearances

get-writing-2014-logoIt’s getting near that time of year when the excellent Get Writing conference begins to loom on the horizon like a looming conference type of thing. This year I’m doing a workshop called “Think You’re Funny, Eh?” I’m not entirely sure if humour can be taught, but I am certain that there are a number of relatively simple techniques that can be learnt in order to make humour work better. This is what it says in the programme anyway:

In this workshop, he uses examples from the classics of comic literature (and also, if no-one manages to stop him, his own work) to show you how to locate your reader’s funny bone.

If this sounds like the kind of thing that you’d like to attend, here’s where you go to book. Apart from my own workshop (obviously), I also strongly recommend that you see if you can get into David Roden‘s. The one he did last year was absolutely magnificent.

The other thing I’m doing is an appearance at the BristolCon Fringe, on Monday February 17th, along with Scott Lewis and Snorri Kristjansson. No idea what I’ll be reading yet, but I guess it will have a sci-fi-ish sort of bent. Which could mean almost anything, frankly. I’d go if I were you.

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