Author Archives: Craig Pay

About Craig Pay

Craig Pay writes speculative fiction. His short stories have been published in various magazines receiving positive reviews from the Guardian newspaper, Interzone and Strange Horizons. In 2011 he won the NAWG David Lodge Trophy. In 2013 he completed a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Bolton University, receiving the Vice Chancellor's Prize. Craig runs a writing group in Manchester. He enjoys Chinese martial arts and many other hobbies. Craig has recently completed a science-fiction / Chinese mythology novel set in Titan orbit. He is represented by John Jarrold.

Meeting: 5th April

First of all, I’d like to welcome Paul Birchenough and Chris Behrsin who joined us for the first time last night. You both gave excellent feedback and we’re looking forward to reading your work at a future meeting. We also had a surprise visit from Ra Page of Comma Press who dropped in to give us a free copy of When It Changed to pass around. Thanks Ra!

Present at the meeting:

Summary of the evening’s critiques as follows:

  • Craig presented a short story titled Refugees. Everyone enjoyed the despair, however there was a little disagreement about whether there should be more tension or not. No one liked the info-dumping first paragraph – it will be edited!
  • Guy presented a further chapter from his novel Night Work. Everyone liked this chapter. A couple of people requested less muscle-clenching. Everyone seemed to like the Admiral, though they disliked her dialogue info-dump – somebody even wanted to see a little more effort over the de-clothing. Get a cabin! And: dialogue punctuation.
  • Rob presented a further chapter from his (still unnamed?) post-apocalyptic novel set in Manchester. Everyone enjoyed the bike ride and the twist at the end. Then we followed through with a discussion on third person omniscience, ambient night-time lighting and decomposing bodies.

As usual, we ended up in the pub afterwards. I seem to remember talking about podcasting and reminiscing about RPG games. But I’m sure we talked about writing as well at some point.

Next meeting is just one week away: 7pm Wednesday 13th April


Leave a comment

Filed under meeting

Meeting: 9th March

First of all I’d like to welcome Emma Audsley who joined us for the first time last night. We enjoyed your feedback we’re looking forward to seeing some of your own work in the future. Apologies from Rebecca who couldn’t make last night, we would still like to critique your work at a future meeting, perhaps in April?

With the delay to the start of the meeting we met beforehand at the Mini Marble, just around the corner from MadLab, for a drink and a chat. At 8pm we moved to MadLab. Summary of the evening’s critiques are as follows:

  • Rob presented the sixth chapter from his post-apocalyptic novel – this may have a name now, but he’s still not sure. There was a slight difference of opinion over the descriptionof the zombie malaise infecting the narrator’s fellow commuters. But everyone enjoyed the ranting! Some people liked the repetition, others didn’t. Everyone liked not liking the dislikeable narrator. We all appreciated Rob’s thong and stockings.
  • Ben presented the short story Our Lady of the Immaculate Tarmac. A few people demanded the story be rewritten as a play (the author states this isn’t going to happen). There was a discussion on sub-genre: lawnpunk versus motorwaypunk. There was a little confusion over the numerous characters and the Five Blocks. Everyone is looking forward to the final piece.
  • Dave presented the second part of his short story The WinterSouth Gates of Quetoriale Ke. Everyone felt the protagonist’s fear. There was a little tittering about metal undergarments and FleshBots. Everyone liked the setting. The poetic use of words was excellent, though it seemed to wander off on its own now and then. Several people preferred the original name for the city ‘Quetoriale Ke’ (or some derivative) as opposed to the new name ‘Phyen’.
  • Shirley presented the short story Motherly Love. Everyone was drawn in and thoroughly enjoyed the piece. The narration and dialogue were excellent, though the accent and apostrophes in the dialogue might need some editing for authenticity. There was a little concern over the young boy being chucked out of the house as readily as he was (personally, I think he had it coming to him the little brat!). The open ending was much discussed – frustration was felt by some; whilst others loved it.
  • Guy presented the fifth chapter from his novel Night Work. The coat confused everyone and there were several outbursts of geometric loathing (“Damn that triangle!”). Several people compared the Leviathan, most positively, with Lovecraft.
  • Hakim presented the short story Wolf Dreams. Everyone enjoyed the lyrical use of language. Several people found it confusing…although it was easily understood (if that makes sense). Rochester as a wolf worked very well. And the werewolf sex was great.

Due to the lack of time, critiques for Craig‘s short story Refugees will be put back to the April meetings. Whilst this was probably the plan all along, and we’re moving to twice-monthly meetings to cope for this exact eventuality, please consider planning your critiques before each meeting. Several people make notes beforehand, a few bullet points is a good idea. This is an excellent way to avoid repetition and umm’ing or ah’ing your way through your critique. You could also keep an eye on the time, however I don’t want people to feel rushed.

However, given all the last minute changes to the start time, we did very well to give six solid critiques during the evening. Great work! Afterwards, we popped back to the Mini Marble for a quick drink and a little more chat before we all headed home.

Next meetings are:

  • Tuesday 5th April
  • Wednesday 13th April

Please submit your work into the DropBox a week in advance of each meeting. If you’re submitting for the 13th April meeting instead of the 5th please make this clear in the filename of the document you submit into the DropBox.

We Need Your Artwork!

I’ve updated the banner on the website with a little creation of mine. Top marks for anyone who can guess what it is. Please have a look in the Resources folder in DropBox and suggest which banner you would like to see next month. Dave has recently added several pictures in there (they still need resizing to 770×200 but I can do this with PhotoShop if you have trouble).

We’re planning on rotating the banner every month, so why not have a go at creating some artwork yourself? The image needs to be 770×200 pixels and should have a vaguely speculative theme.

Leave a comment

Filed under meeting

Important! Meeting on the 9th March

I’ve just received an email stating that this Wednesday’s meeting will have to start one hour later due to a double-booking. To re-iterate:

Meeting: 9th March, now an 8pm start.

Sorry, events beyond my control. I suggest we aim for a 10pm finish. Any stories we don’t get critiqued should be passed over to one of the April meetings (and I volunteer mine first).

Leave a comment

Filed under meeting

Announcement: Twice-monthly meetings

For a trial period, starting in April, we will be running twice-monthly meetings. Meetings will take place on the first Tuesday as well as the second Wednesday of the month. This should allow us to cater for our increasing membership whilst still offering the same level of constructive criticism that we have enjoyed in the past. We’re going to cap the number of pieces of work per meeting at eight (8), though this will be lower if less than sixteen (16) pieces are submitted per month. Members are welcome to attend all meetings, whether their work is being discussed or not.

Our next meeting is at 7pm – 9.30pm on Wednesday 9th March 2011.

And then:

  • Tuesday 5th April 2011
  • Wednesday 13th April 2011

If you’re interested in coming along to a meeting then please contact us.

Leave a comment

Filed under meeting

Shiny New URL

Yes we have a new URL…

…so please update your bookmarks. The old URL still works and will just redirect to our new address so don’t worry, you won’t lose us!

Leave a comment

Filed under website

Meeting: 9th February

First of all I’d like to welcome Rebecca who joined us for the first time last night. I’d again like to apologise for not emailing you the work we planned to critique in last night’s meeting – I think we managed to scrabble together some paper copies for you to read during the meeting. I really enjoyed listening to the short prose extract you brought with you and if you drop me a copy by email I’ll forward it on to everyone.

Well there is one word to describe last night and that is ‘epic’. With nine pieces of work to critique (including Rebecca’s spoken story) we finished just a little over an hour late at 10pm. Personally I didn’t mind the late finish and overall the evening felt less rushed than last month’s stopwatch-timed event. What does everyone think?

Summary of the evening’s events as follows:

  • Guy presented a further chapter from his novel Night Work. There was a little confusion over the geometry and scale of the creature and most (but not all) rebuked the clenching of buttocks. Everyone enjoyed the details aboard the boat.
  • Shirley presented her first piece of work, a short story titled In The Beginning which lasted a rather precise 4 minutes and 27 seconds (the story, not the critique). There was disagreement about whether to like the main character, David, or not. But we all enjoyed the pacing and the details. And Death.
  • Rebecca read a short extract from a short piece of fantasy prose she is currently working on. Everyone enjoyed the details and the similes, especially the jam gatherers, and we need to read more!
  • Craig presented a short story titled Lady Indigo. There was disagreement about whether to mix the absinthe à la Française and questions were raised regarding the authenticity of some of the Victorian turns of phrase.
  • Rob presented a further chapter from his as yet unnamed post-apocalyptic novel. There was a little confusion about the flashback scene and but we all enjoyed his walk in the sunshine and the subtle release of information which indicates a bigger picture.
  • Dave presented the first part of a short story titled The WinterSouth Gates of Quetoriale Ke. Several people thoroughly enjoyed the dream sequencing as well as the setting itself. Questions were raised regarding the usefulness of both gate and guards. We’re all looking forward to the next instalment.
  • Ben presented a short story titled Brains. Or should that be Brainssss…? A funny story, some people found it funny whilst others just ‘funny’. Concerns were raised over the stoic lack of fear experienced by the gore-soaked children, but everyone loved the ‘darling hat’. Oh…and it was quite funny, did I mention that?
  • Hakim presented a Doctor Who fan fiction story titled Big G’s Castle. Seems there are few fans of Sylvester McCoy (or Ace) though it seems there is a very good reason for using him. Everyone loved the setting and there were several requests for a sans-Who version of the story.
  • Sam presented a short story titled ROSE. There was much discussion about this quirky story both during the meeting and down t’pub afterwards. Suggestions were made to improve the editing by reading aloud.

Thanks to Dave for modelling my steampunk goggles

We managed a quick drink and a chat down the pub afterwards. Next meeting is at 7pm on Wednesday 9th March.


Filed under meeting

Meeting: 12th January

First of all I’d like to welcome Shirley Kernan who joined us for the first time last night. Hi Shirley! I’m especially looking forward to reading your steampunk work.

And what a busy evening: we had six stories critiqued by eight members – and we spent the first twenty minutes having a discussion about the group. But we still only overran by 15 minutes! This might be due to a new system we tried last night where we limit the time for feedback per story, skipping people if need be. With six stories we went for 15 minutes per story and I think we only skipped a couple of critiques. Hopefully this gave everyone a more equal slice of the feedback pie without rushing towards the end.

This was certainly one of the most successful meetings (if not the most successful) we’ve had so far.

Summary as follows:

  • Ben presented a chapter from his novel which he is hoping to rework as a short story. Naked Flamingo-Woman in Teen Shock Tease! There was much discussion on dialogue and the male teenage psyche (which seems fairly straight-forward, quite literally), as well as endings and beginnings.
  • Guy presented a further chapter from his Night Work novel. We discussed punctuation, the temporal mechanics of combat choreography and someone smartly identified the mythological golden prophylactic association (top marks).
  • Craig presented a packet of Garibaldi biscuits and a short paranormal-horror story. The biscuits were (quite rightly) shunned in favour of Guy’s home-made cookies; but there was positive feedback on characterisation and some gentle advice on journalism (don’t give up the day job).
  • John presented a short and classily classic sci-fi story. Someone cunningly identified the Philip K Dick association (more top marks) and there was further discussion about endings and beginnings
  • Rob presented a further chapter from his post-apocalyptic novel. Comparisons were made with I Am Legend, there was feedback on the use of tense and we nearly started talking about pizza (again).
  • Hakim presented a chapter from his novel which features free-running, Liverpool, masons and pentagrams. There was positive feedback on characterisation and setting, some more questions on temporal mechanics and Dan Brown was damned by most (if not all) for spoiling the fun.

Most of us popped along to the pub afterwards and we managed to spend another couple of hours talking about all sorts from post-apocalyptic pizza to sexuality to Twitter and websites. Oh and writing.

Leave a comment

Filed under meeting