Showing posts from August, 2008

Writing Rethink

About a year and a half back I decided to start writing. I'd been a reader for many, many years and wanted to give it a go. I started in easy, writing reviews for various magazines, then added articles. Went well at first. I sold most of what I submitted.

But I wanted more. I have been a fanatical reader of science fiction and horror. So like most people in that position I wanted to write it. So I have tried. I have written about 20 stories - mostly horror, mostly what I would consider comedic. Seems I'm alone though.

I have submitted these tales to various magazines and websites out there and have the grand total of NO SALES. Bugger!

Well okay maybe I am not being totally honest here. I have sold one drabble (100 word short story). Wasn't connected to these though. I write an article on Jack the Ripper a little while back and had an idea for a twisted little meander. So I scrawled it down, sent it off and, much to my surprise, they took it.

So that was nice - a good warm feel…

If Only Someone Will Buy My House

We went out today - myself, my wife and her parents. We went to Market Harborough in Leicestershire. I've always liked this town - I find it friendly, welcoming and homely. So much so I would like to live in the area.

We popped into a couple of estate agents in town to see what the housing stock nearby is like. We picked up details on a couple and went driving - just to have a look round, find which villages we like.

Well we found a couple. And one in particular. A wonderful, wonderful seventeenth century house with a courtyard garden. And it's within the price range. It would be absolutely ideal. Only problem is we haven't manage to sell our house. And at the moment that doesn't look all that likely...

Such is life. I suppose the good news is that with the housing market the way it is there is a good chance that it will still be available when we are in a position to buy. Fingers crossed.

Goya's Ghosts

Wow! I sat down this evening with the family. Just to relax, wind down after the week at work. We clicked onto the movie channels and found Goya's Ghosts. All I can say is wow! This has to be one of the finest films I have seen in a long, long time - maybe years.

Francisco Goya, the Spanish Inquisition, Napoleon Bonaparte, heartbreak - strong emotions and occasional brutality, but all done well. Superb.

Odd Socks

The human race is an odd animal. We're not that far removed from pack animals. We like to follow. We set things up to allow us to follow - fashion, pop charts etc etc...

Facebook seems to be one of these things. I have a few friends on my Facebook profile, 89 at the time of writing - not bad for a anti-social so-and-so like me. The one thing I keep noticing, and falling for, on Facebook is groups and fan pages.

These notices pop up every time I log onto Facebook telling me the various things my friends have signed up for. And invariably I join one or two or swear my allegiance to someone or something - announcing myself to the world as a "fan".

I believe anything could get fans on Facebook - any actor, writer, singer, object or activity - The Toxic Avenger, Vampires, Backgammon, CDs, DVDs, BluRay, Lawnmowers, Baseball Caps or even Odd Socks...

We are sheep - baaa!!!

America Watching - From Afar

The American election gets a lot of coverage on the media over here. A lot. Just as well I like politics and current affairs. I guess a lot of people don't. I've heard a number of people here complain about it's level of coverage. The old thing about why do we care about the US election over here in England...

I guess it's the fact that the US is the world's greatest power. Still is, although no idea for how long they will remain on top. So they are important - and this process will determine how the course of the US for the next four years (at least until the next round of elections come around. Nothing major seems to happen during the election rigmarole).

But it's also a great circus. Bright lights, bold colours, bouncy music - everything over the top. In comparison election campaigns over here in the UK are dull.

I enjoy the circus. Odd really. I never liked the real circus.

Bloody Packaging

I've been a bit of an eco-hippy in some ways for years. I've recycled glass and paper as long as I can remember. I drive a small engined car, and don't make too many unnecessary journeys. Etc etc etc.

I could go on - many would. I'm not trying to preach though. I'm just trying to set the scene (so to say). After all I like Italy and fly there every now and again to recharge my batteries.

But packaging irritates the hell out me. Okay I can recycle a good deal of it, but why is there so much of it. I try to avoid much of it - not buying items that are overly packaged, but it is annoying.

I prefer to buy fresh produce - ideally from a market stall. So one of my gripes is easily avoidable - that of individual shrink-wrapped vegetables and fruit. These really are baffling to me. Why plastic wrap fruit and veg? I can just about cope with supermarkets attaching little sticky labels to apples telling me they are apples - okay, I am being flippant, they do say which type of ap…


I've skimmed back through the post I just completed. Made me sound like a right depressive. I'm not. I'm generally a happy person.

It also made me sound like a self-conscious person with little confidence. I'm not. See me at work, at the day job, and I'm anything but. I know what I'm doing there though. I'm in my comfort zone - even this early into my current position. I might not know the system, but I do know how to design software. I can program - and well.

Writing though, that's out there. I never took any subjects beyond sixteen that required essay answers. In Mathematics, Computing and Astrophysics things are right or wrong. No real middle ground...

Well, back to it.

Keeping your spirits up - it's hard

For years and years I skirted on the edge of writing. I read a lot - and I mean a LOT. I read about books, about authors and about writing. I wrote many, many reviews - for various fan sites all over. Then last year I took the plunge - gave it a go and started to submit.

But I still played it safe. The majority of what I wrote were still reviews - although with articles thrown in here and there. For the most part they sold. Not too bad.

However I started to get story ideas. I should have resisted. Since then I have written a dozen or so short stories - mostly horror-lite with comedy (or at least I think they are comedic, I might be biased). And of these I have sold none.

Well to be fair I did sell a 100 word drabble to Necrotic Tissue - so I have sold something and you should have seen the grin on my face for the few days after that.

But of my short stories - nothing. And I have had a number of rejections, none of them too bad in themselves, but they do tend to get to you. Especially when…

Trying to relax - not successfully though...

I started this day on this blog...

I decided to get back into the typing thing by blogging. I've not been all that much in the write frame of mind of late. Work pressures got to me. I admit it.

I left my old job a week ago. The last few week's were fraught - after nine years it really became a wrench to the system. That and the last week I have been concerned about making a good impression at my new employers - hopefully not too obviously whilst I am actually there though. The evenings and this long weekend being the fraught time.

So I have not been the most relaxed when trying to scrawl. I've been working on a short story - featuring demons and ghosts, zombies and werewolves. After a little over a week it is not half finished, and only about 800 words long. I've tried an article - got a great idea for a piece for Raving Dove, hoping lightning can strike twice - and I've tried reviews. Nothing doing.

So I've watched an episode or two (Torchwood and Pushing Daisies)…

More music, more music, more music, Part 3

Okay, moving on.

Choice nine is an album that has been in the 6-CD rack in my car for the past four years - Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run. It's title track aside (stunning though it is) the album is just packed with wonderful, wonderful songs. The opening track Thunder Road is one of my favourite songs - although I do believe I never mentioned it when listing favourite songs - and includes one of the greatest lyrics I've ever heard in "You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright" - Bruce certainly knows how to woo the women.

Each of the tracks on this album is a classic. They'd be stand out tracks on most other artists albums .Thunder Road, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, Night, Backstreets, Born to Run, She's the One, Meeting across the River and Jungeland. They are all truly great.

I have to admit I love Springsteen's music (no sorry, most of Springsteen's music - The ghost of Tom Joad went a little too country for me, and the Seeger Sessions stu…

More music, more music, more music Part 2

Okay two down (Metallica's Master of Puppets and U2's The Joshua Tree) down - guess that means I need to find another eight albums for my list.

I have to move onto one of my favourite bands - King Crimson. I pondered this one for a while. I like this band immensely but which album above all others. I know I never said I was only going to pick one album per band but somehow it seems right to. Listing ten albums by the same band (say Dream Theater, more on them later) wouldn't really say much about me - except look at the sad Dream Theater fan.

So I thought about their debut album - In the Court of the Crimson King. It's an absolute classic, but is it their best? To be honest it is a bit floaty at times. The opening track - 21st Century Schizoid Man is inspired. I have no idea what effect this would have had in 1969 when the album was originally released. It was good and fresh sounding when I first heard it more than a decade later, but in 1969 that track must have been tr…

More music, more music, more music

A little while ago I listened in to a conversation about the best albums ever made. Annoying thing is I cannot remember where it took place. It could have been on TV, on the radio (but I only listen to Radio 4 so that's not all that likely) , in the pub, on a train or pretty much anywhere. I blame an aging brain for not remembering the exact details of when and where...

However my half-formed memory did leave me pondering the idea. Not original I know. I guess just about eveyone has done this over the years but it has bugged me. I have listened and relistened to a number of albums trying to work out which I considered best. I've been trying to leave aside personal feelings towards certain albums for associative reasons. I like Rush's 2112 (the first of their albums I listened to) and Hold Your Fire (as it was the album that confirmed me in 1987 as a die-hard Rush fan - guess it came along at the right moment) but I wouldn't put either down as their best - even if 2112 i…

Je suis un philistin??? And an Olympic hope.

I admit it. It's true. I am. I must be.

I've just sat down to watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics. The fireworks were nice - pretty even. Then the dancers came in, the drummers and the men riding large wheels. I lost it when that happened.

The commentators started talking symbolism. That's the usual point when I leave the room - and I'm not talking metaphorically - I actually leave. I have to. If I stay beyond that moment my natural sarcastic self has nothing stopping it surfacing and my family would probably kill me (and yes I mean this is figuratively).

It's like ballet and interpretive dance. My brain simply isn't wired that way. Abstract art I can do - and like greatly. Whacked out weirdo music also good. But choreography? Not for me.

Thankfully my family called me down to see the London bit. For eight minutes there was a presentation of what London will be like. And it had Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis playing "Whole Lotta Love".

I am so hopefull …

What a week the world has had.

Well, whilst I've been through my own personal change - the world has also been having a weird old time.

Just when we have ten used to one pretty worrying thing, another comes along to rattle us a little further.

Musharraf has resigned in Pakistan. Okay he came to power in a coup and overthrew a democratic government but Pakistan has been pretty stable these last few . Given its location in the world - bordering Afghanistan one side and India on the other - this is one country we all want to remain stable. Two suicide bombings in Wah haven't helped the government's cause there.

The world economy is spiralling downwards, energy prices high, food prices high, credit crunches etc etc - scary times.

Russia and Georgia fighting over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A plane crash in Madrid. Safari deaths in Africa, insurgents fighting in Somali, bombings in Algiers, etc

The world seems to be going to hell.

However I found some bits of news to make me smile (apart from GB/NI winning 19 Gold…

One week down

Sitting here typing late on a Saturday afternoon I have survived week one in my new job.

I have to admit to being very nervous on Monday morning as I drove in to the new office. After all it had been nine years three months and eight days since I last drove to a new job (and yes I realise knowing this kind of thing to the day is kind of sad - but I have always been able to remember this kind of rubbish).

New people to meet, to get to know, to work with. New systems to learn, understand and improve. New industry to get used to. It ain't advertising anymore.

So one week down I have to say it's been good. It's going to be hard work, it's going to be stressful at times I am sure. But I think I'm up to it.

Wish me luck...

Writing Update

I have writing news. It's been a while - pressures of work have meant I've not been writing much these past few weeks.

But I have had some feedback/updates on earlier writings. A couple more rejections - one review, one drabble. You can't win them all.

On the good side though my copy of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #36 arrived today - containing my review of Paul Collins and Danny Willis's Allira's Gift - book on of a young adult fantasy series that is quite enchanting. And I received notice that a poem I write way, way, way back at the turn of the year has gone live at Fear and Trembling - the link in case you are interested is below

New Beginnings - Strangely the Same

Today I started my new day job. Everything is different except my drive to work.

The new company is directly over the road from the old one. At least for a week, next weekend my new company moves into its new offices - so just four more days before I move and things get a little better. I won't look out and see the old office.

It's going to be a hell of a learning curve. After nine years programming the same way, for the same company, the same industry and the same clients, I have a new system to learn - a new mindset to adopt.

Wish me luck - it's going to be fun.

Endings - New Starts - Odd Thoughts

Life is in transition...

I've been working for the same company for nine years. Until yesterday that is.

Nine years doing the same job, seeing the same people every day - and it's over.

I resigned a month ago, and yesterday was my final day. It's still sinking in.

In many ways I regret having left, but I had to. Things had changed.

The company had grown in the last year, new people had joined.

I had reached the point I did not see my future being there - but still I didn't want to leave.

I start afresh on Monday - new company, new job, new industry, new office, new set of people.

I'm apprehensive. I'm excited. I'm edgy. I'm optimistic. I'm determined to succeed.

I feel this will be good.

Stranger Than Fiction

I've never seen a film with Will Ferrell in a starring role before. In fact the only things I've ever seen him in have been two Austin Powers movies and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and trailers to numerous movies I have no interest in ever seeing - Anchorman, Blades of Glory and films like this hold no interest for me.

I don't tend to get along with many American comedy films. American Pie and all similar films usually leave me cold.

But Stranger Than Fiction had a few things that grabbed my attention. For one thing Emma Thompson - I've been a huge fan of hers for years. I consider her a great actress and, importantly for me, intelligent. And this isn't me attributing positive characteristics to someone I like - this woman has won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. That's not something you get unless you can string a few words together.

Secondly Dustin Hoffman - a great, great actor who has starred in some of my favourite movies - and I'm thinking Wag th…

Facebook - The Bane of Writing

I have to admit an addiction to Facebook. Not so much for the making of friends - although it's very nicely re-introduced me to a couple of old University friends I'd thought long in my past. No the thing I like (and dislike) about it is that it has puzzle games likes Scramble, Word Twist and Pathwords - all of which allow you to play against friends.

And there's nothing I like more than word games.

The result - I've spent another lunchtime playing games on Facebook when I really intended to do some research for a history article. Darn! Good fun though.

Old SF films

I've spent today working. I know a Sunday and I've been working - the day job really does get in the way. Well one more week and that will be a thing of the past (new job aug 18 - but that's another story).

I've been keeping going with cricket (which will surprise no one) and old science fiction movies - makes a change from old horror movies.

Just watching the end scences of Wedlock (with Rutger Hauer and Mimi Rogers) after having watched Trancers & Trancers 2 earlier. It's been a blast. The only problem is trying to find copies of Trancers 3 to 6. I can get the first five in a box set but it feels a little bit wrong to do so as I already have the first two.

Maybe I should just get it and list my copies on eBay - you never know they might sell.

Next time I have some work to do like this I might go for Terminator and Terminator 2. That or dig out my copy of Highlander and Salute of the Jugger.

Cricket and Francesco

Kevin Pietersen made his debut as England Cricket captain in a match which really doesn't matter.

Ah well, it was good to see England on top for once - and Steve Harmison back bowling well - even if the result doesn't really matter with south Africa 2-0 to the good with just this match left.

We've been enjoyed the latest Francesco da Mosto series - a voyage across the Mediterranean following the old Venetian trading routes. I've just watched last 's two episodes - a day late because I'd gone to a now-ex-colleague's leaving do. Wonderful show as always - Francesco is very charismatic and enthusiastic. He brings real feeling to his shows. I just wish he did one every year rather than one every other year.

Mind you perhaps the wait contributes to my enjoyment...

Catching up with Films

Okay, now I know no one can ever accuse me of being up to date with movies, but I have to admit being particularly behind with regards Spiderman films. I watched the first in the series a while back but had never managed to find time for numbers two and three.

I figured as number four is going to be made I'd better catch up...

So this evening I made time and sat down, with the family, to watch Spiderman 2. My, that was a waste of time. Not exactly a brilliant film. Okay, there are some decent enough moments in the film, but generally it's not all that brilliant.

And yes, I will be watching the third soon.

English Cricket

England lost the third test against South Africa - and with it the series. Not exactly news I know. I spent yesterday watching England work pretty hard at rescuing the match, but in the end South Africa proved themselves the better team.

And today Michael Vaughan has resigned as England captain. Well, all I can say is well done. Well done Michael for all the service put in over the years, for all the good you have done for English cricket and for the dignified way in which you brought your time as captain to a close. Under your leadership England became a force in world cricket again - no longer a whipping boy.

I also have to say "Well done" to Paul Collingwood. Like many, many others I was moaning about his recall to the England team for the Third Test. He'd done nothing whatsoever in months and I thought Ravi Bopara should have been picked ahead of him. But he came to the wicket on Friday, still looking hopeless but battled - and battled harder than just about anyone I…

nossa morte

The latest issue of nossa morte - complete with three of my reviews went live last night.

Here's the link...