Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Personally, I think the title is enough to garner my
interest, what about you?  
Well, here's your chance to take a peek
and see what you think.  
From Goddess Fish Promotions
comes a virtual tour for Author
Mark Speed.
We have a special guest post today from Mark as well
regarding his opinion about critique groups…I'm
sure we all could have an opinion about that.
Mark appears to have a sense of humor with this book,
bringing all the cousins in the secret spy organization
to life…it looks like a super fun read.
We have a perk today as well,  as Mark is
gifting some Amazon Gift cards, so be sure to enter
your name.  In the meantime, have a nice look around
and enjoy the rest of the tour, and as always,
please leave us a comment, thx for the visit, PLP.


Doctor How’s famous megalomaniac brother Doctor Who sold his fictional life story to the BBC half a century ago, painting himself as a lone hero. Disillusioned, their four cousins dropped out. For fifty years, Doctor How has held the line against the forces of darkness and stupidity. And he’s not that happy, since you ask.

Illegal aliens try to hack How’s Spectrel (TARDIS is a very rude word where he comes from), just as he suspects his estranged cousin Where has been compromised. When reports come in of mysterious attacks by alien creatures, Doctor How has to rely on his new companion Kevin, a petty criminal from south London, and Trinity, a morphing super-predator, as he counters this threat to humanity’s existence. Bungling agents from MI16, long desperate to capture the Time Keeper’s technology, hamper How’s efforts to combat the alien menace. Can Doctor How keep ahead of MI16, save Where and combat the alien threat?


Kevin lowered his window and said, “Come on, Doc. We haven’t got all night.”

Where honked lightly twice, and Kevin laughed.

Doctor How smiled and took a couple of steps towards the cab.

There was a crash from inside the house, and the sound of splintering wood. The Doctor whipped around to see the sofa burst through the front window and tumble into the garden. It came to a stop upside down against the wall. He took a couple of steps back, pulled out his Ultraknife and held it towards the house.

“Get in the bleedin’ cab and let’s go!” yelled Where.

“I want to know what it is. Kill the headlights.”

“Kill the headlights? You’ll kill us all. Get inside!” Nevertheless, Where turned off the headlights.

“Get in, Doctor!” shouted Kevin.

The wall beneath the living room window collapsed outward in a cloud of dust, and the radiator that sat underneath it fell with a resonating clang onto the rubble. Water gushed out of a piece of broken central heating pipe.

A pair of black antennae waved through the dust. They were followed by two interlocking pairs of black mandibles two feet wide that scythed back and forth in the night air.

“Oh, you absolute beauty,” said the Doctor, lowering his Ultraknife a fraction.

“Oi, nutter! Get in the bleedin’ cab, will ya?” Where turned the headlights back on, lighting up the rest of the creature. It was six feet wide and six feet tall, with a rounded shiny black body.

“I wish you hadn’t done that,” said Kevin. “Get in, Doc. Let’s go!”

“It’s after you, cousin,” said Doctor How. Or your Spectrel. Or your cab. Or all three.”

“Well, I don’t want to stick around and find out which, do I? Get in, you bleedin’ maniac!”

The Doctor opened the door and got in the front beside his cousin, who jammed the vehicle into reverse just as the creature edged forward a few feet, to where the cab had been two seconds before.

“Wait!” said the Doctor. He slammed the cab into neutral and jerked the handbrake.

My take on critique groups
I’ve had mixed results with critique groups. The first was in the central library of the bleak post-industrial Northern England city I grew up in. They had appointed a writer in residence, who was a playwright, and a core of three or four of us would gather once a week. The others were two or three times my age, and were writing in genres that I regarded as a bit staid and ‘done over’. There seemed to be a lot of literary pretension too, and when it’s too deliberate I think it falls over; often badly. A couple of them weren’t willing to take any input from the professional writer leading the group – they seemed to want merely to parade their work. It was a waste of her time and theirs. And mine.
A stand-out positive session was when an American called Emil rocked in. Newcastle-upon-Tyne was off the beaten track, so an American student pitching up in the summer holidays in 1987 was unlikely. The fact that he was in his final year of a degree in Creative Writing was extraordinary – he’d teleported from a difference universe. At the time in the UK there was only the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia (UEA). When he told me that just one of my scripts could have got me an MA, never mind a BA, I was struck dumb. He didn’t come back for a second session – he told me on the way out it was too stale.
My second experience was as a postgraduate student in Bristol. A graduate of UEA, Dave Peak, held weekly sessions which I was able to take for a couple of months until my timetable changed. I was getting great feedback from Dave, but the other guys (and it was all guys) had literally nothing to say, which was a great shame. It was the exercises Dave set me that were the main benefit for me, and helped me grow as a writer.
When it came to the MA in Creative Writing at City University, London, I was really lucky. Getting onto an MA was a dream come true for me. Harriett Gilbert, a brilliant teacher, and an accomplished novelist – who still hosts the BBC’s World Book Club amongst other radio shows – had set up the course the year before. It specialised in novels only. The playwrights were on a separate programme. With a properly committed group of writers, the sessions were much more productive. Most of us had the maturity to realise that we were writing in different genres, and that not everyone would necessarily understand enough about that genre to be able to contribute anything useful.
We had the freedom either to write excerpts from our novels, or to write stand-alone pieces – but they had to be on the same theme. A sex-scene, for example, or a description of a place. Most of us chose the latter – some because they’d not developed an idea for their novel yet; others for the variety. It was wonderful to see how different people tackled the exercises, and every enlightening.

I didn’t workshop my novel during the MA, except for during tutorials, and I don’t workshop now. I’ve always been the kind of person who just goes away and figures out how to do something, and tries and fails better and better. Interestingly, one of the guys from the MA has started on a novel and, for the first time, has chosen not to workshop it as he goes. He wants to complete the whole work and be able to stamp his own mark on it first, rather than feel he has to change course. He wants to navigate there on his own, and I applaud that.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Mark Speed has been writing novels since he was fifteen. His comedy writing has appeared in newspapers as diverse as the London Evening Standard and The Sun, and been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra. He performed his solo comedy, The End of the World Show, at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and 2012. He is currently working on the five-volume Doctor How series.

Amongst other postgraduate and professional qualifications, he has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from City University, London. In 1995 a chiropractor told him he’d never run again. Sensibly, he gave up chiropractors, runs every day and has completed several marathons and a couple of Olympic-length triathlons.

NLP founder Dr Richard Bandler called him a ‘polarity responder’.






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  1. Hi Everyone - thanks to June for hosting me on Pressed Leaf today, and thanks to Goddess Fish for arranging everything. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have.

  2. Great excerpt, thank you.


  3. Interesting guest post Mark. Do you ever speculate on how different your writing career would be at this point had you simply chucked the stale dodgers in your group and followed that American back to the US?
    Thanks for sharing.

    ilookfamous at yahoo dot com

  4. Hi Elise-Maria - There was a point a couple of years earlier where I could perhaps have got a step on the career-ladder in TV writing. One can drive oneself insane with speculation. I think what's important is to live in the now and take the opportunities for the right reasons at the right time. I'm not sure I'd have had the maturity for either of those things when they presented themselves.

  5. Thx everyone for participating in todays special guest posting from Mark…glad to be able to be a part of your tour…hope the rest goes well. good luck! Cheers! June

  6. It's good to hear your perspective!


  7. Hi Everyone, bedtime here in London. Thanks to June for hosting me today, and to Goddess Fish for arranging. Good luck in the draw!

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