Monday, 30 November 2015

Monday musings, ramblings and nonsensical utterances (includes a lot of writing stuff)

It is the last day of the month and so the last day or NaNoWriMo. I'm not going to make it to 50K and I'm happy with that. At the time of writing this I am on 47,737 for the month so within touching distance. The only thing is it's gone 10pm and I have no desire to pull an all nighter and use the difference in time zones between England and wherever it is the NaNoWriMo servers are to justify making it at 4am or something like that.

I'm not a young man anymore and the days of being able to work to stupid hours and be in the office bright eyed and bushy tailed are long behind me. No I'm done for the night. I guess that mini-block in the middle of the month really did me in.

So I am going to learn from this. I went in to the month thinking 50K should be easy. After all I'd written an 88,000 word novel from scratch in not much more than that. Well I am going to learn not to be so confident about it. Each project is different and takes the time it takes. I guess I could have just done what they say and scribble out a really rough first draft without any revision as I went. The thing is I don't write like that.

I present chunks of the book, usually a chapter at a time, when complete to test reader number 1 (my wife). Now I know that people say spouses might not make good test readers but they haven't met my wife. She won't let me get away with anything and will pick up anything from badly phrased sentences, grammar errors (oh, the shame), plot holes, repetitions etc. So she will read it, highlight the bad bits which I go back and fix, then make a few more changes, additions before getting onto the next bit.

So lesson number one is be more humble. Lesson number two is choose your projects better. Euphemisms take time to conjure up. If I do it next year I will pick something where I will concentrate just on plot, characters, setting and nothing else. Of course I'm rather thinking I might see if I can do 50K in December.

This NaNoWriMo idea fits in perfectly to my personality. I have this thing for lists and information and charts and forms and I could go on. I won't though.

Here is the final breakdown for my (FAILED) NaNoWriMo effort

Words written - 47,737
Shortfall - 2,263 (real touching distance, eh?)
Percentage of Target - 95.47%
Daily average word count - 1,591
Day Maximum - 4,073 (November 1st - very first day)
Day Minimum - 0 (Three times, 12th, 16th, 17th)
Current Novel word count - 75,714
Number of Animal Species referenced - too many to count

Other writing news - received another rejection for my YA fantasy novel. The reason given was this kind of thing is not what she's looking for. Not sure if that's a stock reply or not. Either way it's going no further. I will find more time this week to send in some more submissions.

Away from writing I caught up with TV series You, Me & the Apocalypse. Really great bit of end of the world surreality. Do these programme makers know how my brain works or what? Only worry is there is only one more episode to go.

Anyway - out of time now. Going to go get ready for another day in the office tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sunday progress report

Well I gave it a good go today and added 2,944 words to No Man's Land, my bawdy scifi noir comedy. Here's the progress report summary

Today - 2,944
NaNoWriMo - 46,384
Novel - 73,821

I'm going to fall short of the month's 50K target but not by that much. I need to write 3,616 words tomorrow but unfortunately I am also at work. If I'd thought about it I might have booked the day off so I could give a serious go. But I didn't so what can you do about it?

It's irritating because the first week of writing this novel was extraordinary. I wrote more than 27K in eight days, and every single one of them was in October. By the time November started I'd used a good deal of my preprepared compound expletives and had to invent from then on as I went.

I will learn from this. If I decide to go for this challenge again next year I will pick something that means all I need to concentrate on are the characters, the setting and the plot. Having to do all that and continuously invent new, and often gross, euphemisms every fourth sentence is tough going.

Next time I will plot out a YA fantasy novel or something like that. That was a much quicker write than this. I managed 7K in a day on more than one occasion. Still at least this has been enjoyable even if it was hard work. It was kind of funky to have my wife go "EW" so often when she read through each chapter.

I'm looking over where I am in the plot. I'm estimating what I have left will take about 15K-18K words. I'm hoping I should have that done in a little over a week. I want to get plotting out one of the other tales soon. The ideas are started to fight in my rear brain. One of them needs to be released soon.

Hope to have more news for you soon.

BTW - please follow me on twitter. Just search for my writing name Edmund Lester or go to @ielester. I'd love to have you on there

The first of the old reviews I threatened

A little while ago I asked on Twitter whether it might be an idea to post some of the old book reviews I did on this blog. Well I received a number of likes and positive responses so I thought I'd dig one out and post it here.

The book in question is by one of my favourite horror writers Graham Masterton and is called the 5th Witch. It was published by Leisure Books back in the good old days before things went a little wrong at Dorchester (read about it on Wikipedia here

I hope you enjoy reading the review and if you like the sound of it you can find old copies of it on Amazon for next to nothing (apart from postage)



Here's a quick cover scan - the review will follow
The battle between organised crime and the forces of law takes a turn for the supernatural when four witches, one each from the worlds of Voodoo, Christian myth, Eastern European mysticism and Native American spirituality, come to town and ally themselves with the city's leading crime lords.
Part of the problem the police have in dealing with this new threat is they just don't believe in its cause.  Even when events can have no other explanation leading police officials continue to battle the crime gangs using conventional tactics, and pay a very heavy price for their mistake.  Detective Dan Fisher, though, is quicker to believe, and sees the only way to fight magic is to use magic - even if he can't persuade his superiors that he is right.
Graham Masterton has been one of the most consistent and prolific horror writers of the last thirty years.  The 5th Witch will not wreck this reputation.  It is an entertaining read, although it doesn't reach the heights some of his earlier books - it's not going to challenge Manitou, Charnel House or Tengu for a mention in the author's bio.
Part of the reason for its position in Masterton's second tier is that nothing here is new.  Some of the plot devices seem a little too convenient, the twists predictable and the characters done before. Lead character Detective Dan Fisher is jaded in just the kind of way you expect in a tale such as this, and his friendship with Annie Conjure (the fifth witch of the title) is far too set-up.
His Latino partner Eddie Munoz is overly familiar; you recognise bits of him from various TV shows and films - but like many of his counterparts he is likeable.  Good witch Annie reads like a blend of Buffy's Willow Rosenberg, Charmed's Piper Halliwell and a grown-up Sabrina - aside from her magic there is little remarkable about her.  In many ways her pet cat (or familiar) Malkin is more memorable.
The supporting cast members fair no better, the three crime lords being incredibly two-dimensional, and Fisher's fellow officers stereotypical.  In fact the only convincing character is the Detective's father, a retired illusionist - although you do have to get past a certain degree of contrivance in having him there at all (there has to be some way of Fisher getting his information).
But it's in the horror that the author shows his skill.  Okay, we've had witchcraft and voodoo before but Masterton brings them to life, using a brilliant efficiency of prose, he's the master of allowing the reader's imagination to create the real scare.
He also blends the different forms of witchcraft well; the four forms don't clash because he doesn't try to make them merge together.  There is no attempt to explain all magic as coming form a single source with a single magic bullet solution.  He makes his heroes work for their victories.  You won't put this book down feeling cheated or short-changed, it's competent and proficient writing, but it just doesn't shine.

Sunday 1st update

Well I have added a further two scenes to my smutty little space detective intergalactic war brothel story. The novel is another 1,173 words longer now at 72,050 and my NaNoWriMo total is up to 44,613 which means I am only 5,387 away from my target.

Well I am not going to rush it or get overly verbose to ensure I get there. I can't see the point adding unnecessarily to the story just to get to the 50K. I will only have to edit more when I revisit the novel and I can't see the point of that.

I'm looking forward to the next few scenes/chapters as things are about to get a little wonky. Not much is going to be as it seems and it should call for a few more euphemisms.

I've also managed a quick submission along the way - I sent the Intersection of to Disquieted Dreams. Let's see if they like it - fingers crossed.

I also realised I'd completely forgotten about Sledge-Lit this month. I was intending to go along to that to make up for not being able to get to the previous writer thing in Derby and it was last weekend. Damn - got caught up in the writing and forgot all about it. Bugger. Must make a note of these things. It's why I have a noticeboard after all.

One quick non-writing thing. I watched the latest episode of Supergirl this morning over breakfast and I am going to admit I'm getting into the show. I had thought it a bit lightweight and was wondering how long I was going to last but it's added in a couple of arc plot points lately and I'm hopeful on them although a little mixed at the same time - her DoE boss being... and this story's equivalent of Lex Luthor.

The first is intriguing. The second I'm hoping isn't just a total Lex knockoff. I want this show to be a little different to the Supes formula in that respect and had been thinking that the constant in-joke style comparative references to Metropolis and the grown up version of the story would lead into it going in a totally different direction. Fingers crossed I won't be disappointed.

Anyway let's not dwell on that, I have writing to do. Music is picked out - The Mark Four / The Creation. Good bit of 60s Psychedelia playing as I type this. Now let's get writing

Some Quick Final Thoughts

Well the evening of watching some TV shows has finished so I thought I'd go over some thoughts.

The Blacklist is getting rather convoluted at the moment - to the extent we had to stop it a couple of times to catch my mother in law up on things. Personally I'm enjoying it as I do always like a good conspiracy story even if I'm not a conspiracy nut as relates to the real world. I have this problem with some of the conspiracies people claim because of the sheer number of people who would need to be complicit. Have you ever tried keeping a secret when more than two people know about it. Faking a moon landing would have taken thousands. And besides there is actual evidence of it having taken place.

Onto Doctor Who and thankfully they've managed to make two episodes in a row that are good. This had a definite Prisoner meets Dark City meets the Cube feel about it with maybe a touch of Groundhog Day for good measure. Bit creepy at times, bit Doctor Who concept and very enjoyable.

Final offering for the night was a double helping of the Bridge Season 3 courtesy of BBC4. We are all hooked on this show and with Saga Noren in particular. Sofia Helin does a wonderful job portraying this basically unlikeable but compelling character. And the story is getting nicely twisted. We've had the first couple of blind alleys and now I'm sensing we're starting to get to the crux of it. Six more episodes to go over the next three weeks.

And then we'll be almost at Christmas when we'll be watching another Scandinavian drama series. Well, we have to. It's become something of a tradition for us.

There will be more writing, more blogging and more tweeting tomorrow - and hopefully one or two more submissions.

Sleep well all

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Writing progress

Well this afternoon has been productive, both in terms of word count and plot advancement with plenty of euphemisms and creative swearing thrown in for good measure.

I have added 2,457 words to the story taking the total up to 70,877. In doing it I have finished chapter 17 and written the first scene of chapter 18. Andmy NaNoWriMo attempt is up to 43,440. Yes it does seem doomed but I am going to try to get as close as possible by the end of Monday. I'm not uploading anything to the site or trying to get any kind of recognition for this anyway - other than the hope I might get it published somewhere I suppose - so it doesn't really matter.

Aside from writing frenzy I have also sent in another submission - this one for the YA fantasy the Patternmaker's Daughter to Amberjack Publishing. Fingers crossed as always. I am going to find somewhere else to send my political sf novel Against the Fall of Empire before the end of the day. It wouldn't be fair for it to be the only one not submitted somewhere today.

The rest of the day is going to offer little chance for further writing. Food is not far off and then there is the Saturday night TV/Film night with the family which I wouldn't miss for the world. Tonight's will be a virtual copy of last week. We have one episode of the Blacklist recorded and there is Doctor Who on BBC 1 followed by two episodes of Scandinavian drama the Bridge Season 3 on BBC 4.

Sounds like a good evening. Now all I have to hope is the Doctor Who episode is a good one. The average so far this year is not good.

Saturday about to start

Well, I know it is two o' clock in the afternoon and I've not written a single word of new fiction yet but I haven't been totally lazy. I have sent in two submissions already today

Mr Stinky to Enigmatic Books
The Intersection to Kraken Press

And so far today I've not received any rejection emails (I know that's tempting fate) so not a bad day.

Away from writing popped into Ashby de la Zouch this morning where there is a Christmas Market going on. Now I'm not one to scribble endlessly about the general stuff in my life, this blog is focussed on books, writing, scifi and horror with some music occasionally, so don't worry I'm not going to go into extensive detail about it. It was nice to see so many people enjoying themselves and I'm going to leave it at that.

I only mentioned it because it did make things take just a little longer to do the stuff we headed into town for so introduced a slight delay. Whilst in there I did manage to indulge my collecting urges a little, but only a little. I bought a couple of talking books (Dan Brown & Bill Bryson) for my wife as she does a lot of driving with her job, the second Michael Palin diary book (I enjoyed the first immensely) and some CDs including the Psychedelia compilation playing now; current track is the Nice with the Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack.

No new scifi, fantasy or horror books for the collection unfortunately.

One more thing to mention is TV series Grimm. We've been fans of this for years (since the start) and the show is maintaining a good standard of storytelling. I was worried this show might get a little silly as time went on but it hasn't (well no sillier than it was to start with). There are a few good underlying plotlines building with the Trouble and Adalind storylines to go along with the monster of the week main story. Good, well balanced episode.

Now if I could get something published I would love to give writing a Grimm novel. I have this idea for a European based story set a few years before featuring Nick's mother as a young woman. I'd love to have the chance to write it. Pipe dreams eh?

Friday, 27 November 2015

11pm update

Well, so far, it's been a reasonably good writing evening. I have written four scenes of the novel making up 2,200 words with plenty of creative swearing, animal namedrops, euphemisms and insults and all without using a word harsher than shit.

When I revise this I will go back and take out the stronger language in the first few thousand words. I had originally intended for my narrator to be a thoroughly foul mouthed individual but it's become far more fun to have him create euphemisms than use the f word. So I am going to leave it with PG-13 level words (allow bastard, shit and bugger) but nothing worse. Okay it will mean it is still never going to head into PG-13 territory even with the toned down language but I think it will be far more effective.

Anyway, the result of all this writing is as follows

Tonight  - 2,205 words
NaNoWriMo - 40,983
Novel - 68,4240

So my target for the month is now just 9,000 words off done. It's feeling a little more achievable. It will take a great deal of effort but I'm going to give it a go. So I won't dally here overlong as I could get another section in tonight and move it that little bit even closer.

So just time to mention another rejection received this evening - this time for the horror novel Mr Stinky which means for the first time since I turned my hand to writing I have had three rejections in a single day. A new record. Not one I wanted though.

So I have responded in the only way I thought fit and sent out another couple of submissions

Right - back to writing

First Friday thoughts

Well it's another weekend which mean, hopefully, a good deal of writing to come in the next couple of days. It's started off okay. So far tonight I have added 1,120 words to the novel in two quick scenes, one of which was nothing but a rant from the narrator of my story about the lead character. They don't get on. It certainly did nothing to advance the plot. But then again, that was kind of the point.

 Anyway, more writing will be done in a few minutes. Just wanted to blog a little first.

NaNoWriMo is a distant dream now. I have 10K to go and three days to do it. Not impossible but not the easiest of tasks. I'm not giving up on yet though.

Some more writing news is two more emails received from agencies. Both of them concerned my YA Fantasy novel the Patternmaker's Daughter and both were rejections. One of them was a bog standard form letter reply that said nothing except NO in any way that mattered. The other was a personal email and included some pleasant positives - they liked the way I write was one of the phrases. Only it ended with the comment that they weren't sure they could find it a home so were not going to represent me. The end result was the same but at least it felt good to have someone comment on it.

One thing I noticed about the way my head has been working this week. I have been inundated with Black Friday emails and seen one or two adverts about it but for some twisted reason nothing in my brain associated it with it being Thanksgiving over in the US this week. I feel a bit of a gibbon if I'm honest.

So to anyone reading this from the other side of the pond, I hope you have had / are having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

More later

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Pictures of wife's gig and sax

Okay I should have posted these in the previous blog but here they are

Gig poster for tomorrow night

I just noticed it's in Matlock Bath - apologies for saying it was Nottingham in the earlier blog entry

And here's a quick pic of the instrument she will be playing - a vintage baritone we bought last week


Thursday round up

Had time tonight to write just one section of the book but as 873 words it wasn't an ultrashort one. It included dynamite enemas too so kind of fun.

I'm resigned to the fact I am either going to have to go all out to get to 50K for NaNoWriMo given there are four more days or I'm not going to make it. I'm on 38,778 words for the month so far. Now I have written over 7K in a day before now but that wasn't for a book where I am having to invent a new euphemism every other paragraph and creatively swear in between. It takes some thinking about and that takes time. We shall see though.

My wife is playing a gig in Nottingham (apologies - I meant Matlock Bath) tomorrow night so I will be writing my little socks off (ok, they're not small - I take a UK size 16.5 shoe - US 18 but you get the idea). If I do a decent blast Saturday and Sunday too I might get close. Here's hoping.

Either way I'm hoping to finish up draft one of this story in the first week of December. I need to write something else. I have the idea I might just write the next Ben Williamson weird novella next. I have the story down on paper in one of my many notepads and I feel it's the story of now gone wronger so it's likely to be the next thing I write. That and I have an idea of where to submit it.

Talking of submitting, I have sent one of the existing Ben Williamson stories in to a small press publisher I found on twitter earlier. I remain forever hopefully. I have another possible home for it but the document will take some extensive reformatting so I will wait on that one until I have more time.

Anyway - have run out of time. More tomorrow

Amazingly no rejections - and then music

After four consecutive days with at least one rejection for one of my novels or another today, after deleting all the spam and twitter notifications, I had no rejections whatsoever. It felt actually uplifting to not seeing another dead end spring up in front of me. Not that I am going to let anything as silly as a rejection stop me writing. I am determined to continue to improve until I am holding a book in my hands that I wrote (and doing it without paying for the printing to happen).

One thing I forgot to mention in my blog entry yesterday. There was a band I really liked back in the 1980s when I was a wee nipper (okay maybe older teenager). That band was called the Faith Brothers. Right - time for an aside.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love music. They should also know my taste in music is a little eclectic. I love prog rock, prog metal, heavy metal and thrash metal but don't see why that should stop me liking folk music, jazz, punk, new wave, reggae etc.

Now I do not like all bands and artists in all genres. There are some styles I just really do not like - think country and western, rap, hip hop/house (or whatever it's called now). But in general I just like good music and always have. I remember back in the 80s going to see Motorhead, the Alarm, the Cure, Yes and Roy Harper all inside a couple of weeks and enjoying all of them.

Now one of those gigs had the Alarm and the Faith Brothers playing the Birmingham Odeon. I am probably a music company's most loved fan. You see, when a support act plays a lot of people head for the bar and ignore them. Not me. I've come across a number of bands that I love to this day because they were a support act for someone I liked. Spock's Beard/Neal Morse come to mind. They were a weird one as they supported Dream Theater - another band I love - only not in any of the gigs I saw. But I read a mention of them then saw a CD of theirs in an independent record shop (remember them) in Banbury and on a whim bought it.

Anyway - get back to the thread. I have always liked the Faith Brothers even though they were short lived and enjoyed a good deal of the solo work of their singer Billy Franks since they split up. Well, yesterday, out of the blue Billy Franks followed me on Twitter. Weird and kind of cool. I, of course, followed straight back.

But the effect has been to focus my music listening quite tightly. I've not put anything in the CD player since then that wasn't either Billy Franks or the Faith Brothers. Eventide (FB CD) is playing as I type this. I'm having some nice nostalgia moments. Hell, more than that - I'm just enjoying some really good music.

But don't take my word for it. Billy Franks has a website you can go visit and check out his music

Or you could check out YouTube for a good selection. Here's a link to the list of Faith Brothers' tracks

Anyway - need to get  few things done so I have time to write later.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Midweek writing stuff

I like Germany and the Germans. This might seem like an odd way of starting a blog on writing but trust me there is a reason. And the reason is the blog entry title. You see one thing I really like about the German language is there is a sense of you get things straight. And today is one of the days that best exemplifies this. You see the German word for Wednesday is Mittwoch - over Midweek. Perfect.

Anyway - to writing. Well for the second day in a row I downloaded my emails to find two rejections; one for my political sf novel Against the Fall of Empire and one for the YA Fantasy the Patternmaker's Daughter.

I guess in some ways the second of them doesn't count as the reason given is she has stopped taking on new clients. Not so much a rejection as a non-response. Still means I am no steps closer to getting a novel published but it feels less of a defeat. I'm not going to let them stop me though. I am going to continue writing until I get some success.

So onto tonight. Well I started writing late - 9:30 before opening the file - so I only had tome for one section of 623 words. But I have left it setting up the next chapter quite nicely so tomorrow will hopefully be better.

Right off to watch a little TV before sleep. We've been watching a great series on British culture by Dominic Sandbrook called Let Us Entertain You. I think I will watch part of episode three now.

Good night all.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

End of Tuesday Progress Report

Two more sections have been added to the novel as well as a slight rewrite of the one before it. I'd doubled up on a joke from earlier in the novel (which was gently pointed out by my wife who reads this stuff through at the end of each writing session). So I went back, modified the section so it didn't clashed and then got on with it.

Here's the summary of activity
Day's increase - 1,321 words
#NaNoWriMo - 37,278 (2,772 behind schedule) 74.56% of target
Novel 64,715 words

I don't think I am going to make the 50K for the month. Not without an explosion of typing in the next six days. I need to average 2,120 words a day which, although possible, is unlikely. Still I will have made some good progress on the story which is the main purpose and if I finish it in early December where's the harm?

I might keep this daily log thing going though. I'm curious how the speed of writing will vary between types of fiction. I'm feeling it's a lot harder writing bawdy scifi as I have to keep inventing new euphemisms and almost sweatings. Not the easiest thing to do.

I did find one thing intriguing. The second scene I wrote this evening comprised 666 words (yeah, I love that coincidence). In those words there were 8 animal mentions and 10 bodily parts. Make of that, what you will.

So, the evening is over pretty much. I'm going to go relax before getting some sleep and will start to think of new things to type tomorrow night

More to come.

Tuesday 24th November Entry 1 - rejections plus

I'm starting tonight with a short-ish blog entry. It's kind of thing to get the mind starting to focus on sentences again after a day of creating software code. Hopefully it will spur the creative side of me into action.

Two more responses from agencies/publishers today and neither contained good news I'm afraid. One agency declined my YA fantasy novel - four week turn around is pretty good. They said some positive things such as "We enjoyed your writing" but ended by saying they don't think they would be the right agency to take it forward. Okay it might be a stock email thing but at least it was friendly.

The second was for the horror novel Mr Stinky and came from publisher Dead Star Publishing. Now this takes the record for the fastest ever turnaround on a submission. I only sent it in on Sunday and by Tuesday it's been considered and replied to. Fairly impressive.

So I have done the only thing that is possible in a situation like this - I sent the Intersection, my weird novella, off to another publisher.

Also have chased up another publisher who have gone beyond the end of the period they stated on their guidelines. Not a good sign I know but I'd rather have a definitive no than no reply.

Right - now to get down to writing. I need to do some more catching up

Monday, 23 November 2015

Very quick writing post

I don't have much time tonight so I will have to be brief.

First off I received an email from Permuted Press this evening. I'd submitted my horror novel Mr. Stinky to them back in September. Well, unfortunately it was another rejection; friendly email though. So I did the only thing you can do in a situation like that. I sent in another submission for it - this time to Solstice Publishing. Fingers crossed.

Onto writing. Time was short tonight so I have only had chance to write one quick scene on the bawdy scifi novel No Man's Land. Only 552 words but it means I did write something. Will have more time tomorrow and Wednesday evenings.

Anyway - told you it would be a quick post. Have to go - it is a school night after all. Back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

TV thoughts

I was reading an article online about some TV shows this guy thought had been cancelled too soon and it got me thinking. He'd made the obvious choices for his list; Firefly at the top of the list, original series Star Trek, Angel and Dollhouse. I did kind of think he had a Whedon centric view of the world. And being fair I can agree with him on Firefly and Dollhouse. I enjoyed both immensely. Okay, I'll be honest. I agreed on all of his picks.

It's just I have a few of my own from years gone by that I thought were ended far before they'd achieved their potential.

The first of them is Max Headroom. now for those of you who remember the Max Headroom show as a computerised video jockey spinning tunes in the late 80s that's not the show I mean. There was also a US made scifi show set in the near future (from the 80s POV) when everything was about a ratings war and TVs couldn't be turned off. It was all a bit Philip K Dick conspiracy, big corporations controlling everything and it was wonderful. Only it only made it through two very short seasons for fourteen episodes and then it was gone. A woefully missed opportunity

Next up I'm going to choose Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the early 80s the BBC made one series of Douglas Adams wonderful scifi comedy and everyone thinks that was it. Only there were plans for a second series. It's just the Beeb decided against. The plot turned into the third book. That could have been great.

Third up is Space: Above and Beyond. This was a mid 90s show created and run by two X-Files alumni Glen Morgan and James Wong. The Earth is fighting a desperate war for survival against an attaching alien force and we see the story from the POV of one squadron of marines. It was gritty, it was compelling (for me) and it was too short lived by far.

Choice four is another alien invasion series: Threshold. About ten years ago this series managed just one thirteen episode season before vanishing. It was in a nutshell a modern retelling/reimagining of the 60s show the Invaders and it starred Carla Gugino, Brent Spiner and Peter Dinklage (the first time I encountered him). Okay, I have a real thing for secret government agencies (something which could help keep me watching Supergirl) but this ticked all my boxes. Didn't save it though.

Okay now for my fifth choice and I'm going outside of scifi for this one. I was instantly hooked with the first episode of the Newsroom when it hit the screens. I'd loved West Wing before it and when this show from the same writers turned up I had to watch. And the sheer intelligence of it just grabbed me. I like watching smart characters - especially smart characters with flaws which some of them in this show most definitely do have. It also helped that I think Olivia Munn is gorgeous (and yes I know my wife reads this blog but she knows me well enough by now to not find that surprising).

I'm going a little further left field for my final main mention - Police Squad. There are only six episodes of this fantastically surreal cop comedy show. Why couldn't they have made more. Okay we did then get the three Naked Gun films but they missed the parody of 70s cop shows feel of the original.

Now there are many, many other shows I would have enjoyed seeing more of. I'm going to mention a few more in a kind of list format below (it was inevitable wasn't it?) but these six were the worst of early cancellations for me. Just assume all the ones I mentioned from the other article are included. These are my extras

Honourable Mentions
Dead Like Me
Pushing Daisies
Alien Nation
The Tripods (mid 80s British BBC alien invasion on a homely level)
Sapphire & Steel
Alphas (superhero ish show)
FlashForward (I actually felt this was about to get good when it ended)
Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles

I did get tempted to add Sliders. I loved Sliders for precisely two seasons; then liked it for a third before finally realising just why it was going to be cancelled as I watched the fourth. I loved the cheerful optimism and camaraderie of the show for those two years. The cast worked wonderfully well as a unit and when the original cast members started to drift away the shows was on a downward slope

Anyway - I'm done now. Going to go sleep

Sunday wrap up

Today was hard going writing wise. I am going to be glad when this novel is done I think. The next one can't be any harder.

Well here's the progress report.

Day - 2,792 words
#NaNoWriMo  - 35,405 (70.8% of total)
Novel 62,842
I've caught the numbers up a bit today. I'm now only 1,262 words off schedule. I'm hoping I'll get that caught up. If I do this NaNoWriMo thing next year I'm going to pick an easier novel. Continuously having to invent new euphemisms is real brain ache work.

I'm going to go catch up on another TV show to celebrate and get my head ready to return to work tomorrow. Monday morning's haunt us all.

I didn't get a chance to add to the three submissions reported earlier. Maybe tomorrow night I might send another one or two off into the aether.

Quick Sunday PM update

Writing today hasn't gone all that smoothly. This novel is nowhere near as easy to write as the YA Fantasy was. That virtually flowed from brain to keyboard. The last day of writing it over 7,000 words found their way onto the page. Today I have struggled with the tone and voice of this bawdy scifi and haven't reached 1,600 words yet. It's getting really tricky to keep coming up with suitably twisted euphemisms and metaphors. Why did I pick this kind of voice for the narrator?

Still I am determined - I will finish it. And hopefully I will make the 50K for November at the same time.

I took a break from it this afternoon. Some of what occupied my time was writing related. I found three open markets for horror fiction and sent in submissions for Mr. Stinky. First I've done for that book in a while.

Away from writing I watched the latest episode of Supergirl with my wife. We're still undecided about this show. Do we keep watching it? Not sure. The one thing in its favour is that we felt the same about Flash and it came good towards the end of the first season. So it's probably going to get a few more episodes to keep us watching. And also we remember how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was for the first few weeks. We're glad we stuck it out with that one and can't wait until C4 decides to show Season 3.

Oh, one film recommendation to mention. During the researching markets to sub the novels to I put on Kentucky Fried Zombies. All I can say about this is that if you are ever tempted to give it a watch, just don't. It's terrible. And unfortunately not quite bad enough to be funny.

Right - back to writing

Sunday morning first thing - thoughts

Well, the first thing I woke up to today was a rejection for my weird novella from small press Publisher Shock Totem. Not the nicest of ways to start a Sunday but I'm not going to let it stop me writing or submitting elsewhere. Will spend some time later looking at small presses.

We had our family gathering TV/Film night last night so I'm going to bombard you with a few thoughts. First off was last week's episode of Doctor Who, Sleep No More. Well first of all let me use the word WOW. Wow as in I don't think I've ever seen a premise for a Doctor Who story that was anything approaching that bad. I'm sorry for all involved but that was the first time ever I have switched off an episode of Doctor Who before the end titles rolled.

This week's episode, Face the Raven, I thought was excellent. It felt a little Neil Gaiman like with the hidden street in the heart of London - reminded me of Neverwhere, which although flawed had a wonderful premise. And Jenna Coleman was superb in it.

The episode is easily the standout of the series so far, which isn't saying all that much. This has been a fairly ropey set of shows and I think partly the fault of too many two-parters. Not that I have anything against two parters or arc stories. It's just they have been good throughout.

The opening pair of episodes should have everything to make it a great story; Daleks, Davros, and Missy. But it's story was just a little weak for me. It would probably have been too much for a single episode but not quite enough plot for a double.

The second two parter (Under the Lake/Before the Flood) was better. The ghosts were actually quite creepy and the cliffhanger well done. The Doctor even got out of it in a proper Doctor Who way so we didn't feel cheated.

Cue two parter number three - really would have been good breaking this up with a standalone. Now the Maisie Williams starring episodes were actually pretty good. My only problem was nothing so far in the series had made me go wow (for the right reasons) and this still didn't. A lot of it felt more of a set up for later than actual story.

And onto two parter number four - Revenge of the Xygons (or whatever) Now I am always happy yo see Osgood back. I think the Doctor Who groupie in UNIT is a great idea and the actress looks just geeky enough to carry it off. But again I found the story just not quite enough to sustain two episodes. At least this time the second half was the better of the two so you got an ending that was pretty satisfying.

And then it was onto episode 9 - a standalone at last. Unfortunately the terrible one mentioned above.

We have just two more left this season (apart from the obligatory Christmas special). I just hope that the season ends well. I have a horrible feeling about the shows future. Anyway - we did watch other things so onto them.

The first of them was the latest Blacklist, Arioch Cain. I like this show. I like all the intrigue and conspiracy and seemingly endless resources that Reddington can command. But it's James Spader that makes this such a hit. He plays the part so wonderfully; swapping between bon vivant to psychopath to principled man in a heartbeat. Episode as good as ever.

Then it was the return of Danish/Swedish crime drama the Bridge. The first two episodes of season three aired last night on BBC. I really enjoy the ways that Scandinavians film these shows. It's so much different to UK/US crime dramas. Somehow the reality is somewhat starker and harsher and I like that.

This season I had some initial fears over. After all without the character of Martin to support her, how would Saga cope? Saga has to be one of the weirdest characters in a TV cops show - and if you include shows like Monk that's going some.

The good news is Saga isn't coping all that well with Martin's absence which is a really good touch. It would have been all too easy for her to just shut it off and go back to being what she was when they first met. She hasn't. She's struggling and it makes it more interesting. The story has started quite well too. We've had just enough of the case and the subplots to hook me back in again.

This might be why I like Scandinavian shows so much. UK/US cop shows always seem to be episodic. The story gets wrapped up by the end credits of the episode ready for another the next week. It leads to jokey comments about shows like Midsommer Murders - how can their be so many killers in such a small town? Why don't people just leave?

In these Nordic Noirs, a season focusses on just one case. The Killing did it over 20 episodes in season 1, but generally it's just 10. It's a far more satisfying format than killer of the week.

The two episodes were, BTW, thoroughly satisfying and I can't wait for next weekend.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Saturday report - writing and saxophones

A large part of today was taken up with a drive into Nottingham to a music store called Windblowers so my wife could buy another saxophone, a baritone this time. She has a gig playing it this coming Friday so it was pretty important she had one. It was a successful trip. To be honest it almost always is when going to Windblowers. It's a great store and I can't recommend it enough and I'm not the musician in the family. All I know is it makes my wife happy and that is good as far as I am concerned.

So it did mean I didn't get to start writing all that early for a Saturday and didn't have as much time as normal. It was worth it though.

So when I did get to the writing I managed three more scenes in the bawdy scifi novel No Man's Land comprising 1,684 words. It's taken the novel in the right direction and I have left it knowing exactly where I am going to pick things up in the morning so (hopefully) no fears of another block.

My NaNoWriMo effort is a little behind schedule but is at least at 65% of target - just against the fact that November is 70% done. So I need to crack on in the next few days. One thing that might mean I get it back in the final week and a bit is that my wife is out Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at rehearsals and playing a gig on Friday (as mentioned in paragraph one). That will mean I spend more time on the keyboard than I would have otherwise. I do like being with her when she's around so...

On other writing news I have sent in another submission for the YA fantasy - to an American Agency who seem rather partial to YA Fantasy. All but one of their agents list it as a preferred subgenre. Fingers crossed as always. No response to report - which I guess does mean no more rejections.

I think I might have the next project sorted once I'm done with No Man's Land. I listed the options swimming around my head to my wife this morning before we went out and she said that the Venice-ish fantasy tale The City and the Mask is one she wants to read so it looks like that will be the one. Not a bad thing her choosing that one. It's one I have a pretty full plot outlined for and I have written a three thousand word first chapter already so I know the mood I want it to take. I just have to come up with a little more flesh on the bone of its plot and then I'm good to go.

Anyway - need to finish up. time to eat then its TV night with the family. We have last night's Blacklist to watch, plus Doctor Who and the first two episodes of the third season of Scandinavian crime drama The Bridge on TV tonight. Yehay!

More later

Friday, 20 November 2015

Friday night writing tally

Well, I am pretty much done for the evening. Certainly writing wise there's no more in me. Not to say I am going to just laze my way from here until I collapse in my pit. I will probably go to find some more places to submit any of my books.

Tonight's writing has seen three scenes of the book written; the final two of chapter 14 and the first of chapter 15. It's taken the book up to 58,366. Below is a quick chart of how it's going

Day total - 2,108
NaNoWriMo total - 30,929
Novel total - 58,366

Think I am now back on track with it after my mini-block a few days back. I think the problem was I wrote out to the end of what I had planned and stopped at the point I needed to figure out. I know it's not following the writing advice of always stop when you know what you're going to write next and I paid the price for it. It took four days to figure out the next scene. I guess it's part of the gig when you're a partial planner / partial seat of pants type writer.

I do plan out my books before I start them but not in the sense of every chapter being plotted out in full before I create the new Word doc. It's much more the case of a bunch of jumbled notes in a notebook detailing the characters, the locations and the rough plot. Detail exists in my books for the important milestones in the plot and the key things I absolutely must get covered but not every step or bowel movement that the characters perform during the novel itself. I like to leave a little to spontaneity along the way; let inspiration strike.

Well that's all well and good except that it just didn't for a few days and put my behind the curve regarding NaNoWriMo. Which is a real downer considering just how far ahead I was after ten days. You see, to do this 50K in 30 days thing you need to average 1,667 words per day. I started in on this with a great deal of confidence.

After all I had written more than 7K in one day to finish the Patternmaker's Daughter and then followed it up with 27.5K in the last seven days of October before NaNoWriMo started. Surely 50K in a month was child's play. The first week suggested I would be right too. 14,706 in seven days; 21,185 in ten. Then came the block.

Now I am hopeful I will be able to make some of this time up but only time will tell. I do know the next scene I am going to write and the one after that. It does get a little hazier after that but I know where it's got to get to and can only think of one possible way it would do it so there's hope.

Away from this novel I have been playing around with the other ideas. I think it's down to the YA supernatural story I've been sketching out over the last few days or a witchy thing I plotted out a few years back but never wrote. But then there's always the next Ben Williamson novella. That might just jump the queue if either of the two submissions that requested the whole manuscript go anywhere. If it sells I might well feel compelled to try to repeat the experience. I have a special notebook filled with nasty things to do to Mr. Williamson. I'm sure one of them will find its way onto the my computer screen at some point.

Oh, and then there's the Venice-ish story I wrote the first chapter for last month just to get it out of my head. That plot is still rattling around the grey matter somewhere. Hopefully it is finding some friends amongst all the plot devices, characters and scenarios that live in their deep dark recesses of my brain. It might come back fully formed.

Friday evening opening gambit - some writing already

It's the end of another week and the start of another weekend and my wife is out playing another gig somewhere in Nottinghamshire. So I am home alone with nothing getting in the way of some writing. And for once it seems to mean I am actually writing. It's only 7:45 in the evening and I have one scene down (666 words added and no, I wasn't deliberately aiming for it - that's a complete fluke) and the start of another in the bag.

Good going; so why am I blogging already you might ask. Well it's a good question. You see I am mulling over the next few lines of the book and so thought I'd spend the time tapping a few words into this blog.

The book is now a little over 57,000 words (57,103 to be exact) and going along at a reasonable enough pace. Still not sure it's going to make my initial target of 80K-85K words but I guess it will find its own length. Maybe I can put some of the initial ideas I had when sketching out the plot that didn't quite make it into the first draft when I do the revising. Might get me up to scratch.

Equally though it might be best to keep this one shorter. The humour is a bit raucous and full on at times and it might get a bit too much if I go for full length. We will see how it reads when I go over it in the future.

On other matters, I will be finding some time this weekend to send off another submission or five as well as catching up with some TV. I still haven't watched last week's Doctor Who episode, although from what I've heard I'm probably not missing all that much. I will watch it though, and tomorrow's. And then of course there are the first two episodes of the Bridge season 3. This Scandinavian series is quite possibly my favourite show on TV at the moment so it starting up again is cause for much celebration.

Anyway - enough procrastination. Back to writing

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Yeah - got it back again

After a brief lull in the writing progress (a three day drought) I have been abusing the individual keys on my keyboard once again in the name of trying to write a novel. It feels good to be back in the saddle.

So how did I do tonight? Well, I have added a not too shabby 1,888 words the to bawdy scifi-noir comedy that is No Man's Land. Chapter 14 is well and truly underway and will hopefully be finished tomorrow. I have plenty of time as my wife is playing a gig tomorrow night so I will be home alone.

My NaNoWriMo count is a little behind schedule. I'm on 28,821 for the month so far. To be on target I should have got to 31,667 by this point so I am not too far off. A little frustrating as a week ago I was considerably ahead of the curve. Still, that's what a short drought will do to you.

Other than the current WIP I have some other writing news and it's not the best. I had the first rejection for the YA Fantasy the Patternmaker's Daughter after a staggering four days. That is a superfast turnaround. Maybe it just signifies they are not after YA Fantasy. Doesn't matter why; it's a no.

Tonight though I have sent off the weird novella the Intersection to another potential publisher - this time in Canada. That make an even dozen of subs for that story, far less than any of the others. But it is harder finding somewhere that will entertain a novella submission. Hopefully I will find it a home as I have a series of these stories planned.

Anyway - time is up. I need to go do other things before sleeping. More later

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Hiatus - Oh No

Well it's passed the halfway point of the month and of NaNoWriMo and I have to report I've stalled on the book big time. I thought I had a next move for the plot sorted, and I may still have but I've just felt so washed out these past two days I've not written more than a hundred words of it.

I have got some more submissions out there into the big wide world so you never know. Five more submissions of the YA fantasy novel the Patternmaker's Daughter. I have so enjoyed re-reading this novel and re-visiting the world of Elspeth Comstock that I really want to write more of it. I have the plots down on paper in my notebooks, for either two or three more books depending on how I break them. Fingers crossed one of the agencies like the sound of them and help me get them published.

I may have stalled on the book but I have not been staying away from the writingverse. I've been scribbling down more ideas for other novels in various notebooks. I have a new setting I would love to explore - a kind of young adult supernatural thing where the spooky bit is nothing to do with the main characters being teenagers.

I'm not going to have a Carrie clone or anything like that. Stephen King did Carrie and it's stunning. No point going anywhere near that idea. I would never be able to compete. No my setting idea just happens to have two teenagers, a brother and sister in the middle of all the weirdness. I just need another plot point or two to pop into my head and it will be good to go.

One good thing about it, the location for it is just up the road from where I live (hence why I got the idea) so I can just do the old cliché - write what you know. It makes sense. I did that for my horror novel Mr. Stinky. I set it in the 1970s/1980s in Solihull. Go on, guess where I lived during that time period.

Anyway, yesterday I had one piece of writing news, unfortunately not a good one. I had another rejection for my sf alternate universe story. Such is life I guess.

Today I did notice one thing on my submittable dashboard. The status for one of my submissions of the weird novella the Intersection has changed from received to In Progress. So it is being looked at. Hopefully I will get some news on it soon. That piece has not received any responses as yet from the submissions I've sent out so... Admittedly one of the submissions is way beyond its expected response time so I am presuming it dead. But the others are all well in period

That's all to report though. Not much writing. A few submissions. One rejection.

There is a recommendation to anyone who like quirky odd TV shows. We've started to watch this Norwegian comedy show called Dag. Dag is a marriage guidance counsellor who hates the idea of relationships. Very strange. Compelling

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Sunday - NaNoWriMo half time report

 A couple of days ago I stalled rather horrendously on No Man's Land - my bawdy science fiction detective story. You see, I had about 80% of the novel down in my head and scribbled into my notebooks when I set out writing three weeks ago (yes scary that - three weeks).

In those three weeks I have taken the novel from not actually existing to 54,319 words. Or as the more observant amongst you have noticed I have achieved the 50K target in three weeks. The only problem is that the first week and a day of those three weeks were still in October. Those eight days saw a mad frenzy of writing which resulted in 27,437 words before the official period had started.

80% is more than I normally have when I start writing. If I have the characters down and the rough plot (start, couple of key points along the way, ending) then I'm happy to go for it. My brain usually fills in the blanks along the way. This time however it hasn't.

I still have the ending done, it's just that I do not have the faintest idea of how to get there. Or, to put it another way, bugger. Halfway through NaNoWriMo and I'm at a standstill. So I sis the only thing I could in a situation like that. I closed the Word document and left it alone.

I did do a couple of productive things with the time I had - or rather five things; those being submissions of the YA fantasy novel to agencies. Yeah, I might have to admit to having pretty much gone against what I said and revised the darn thing. It's the kind of thing you do when you are stymied with the current WIP. I have maybe another couple of days to merge the changes into the  master file and the Patternmaker's Daughter is off to the test readers. I am an impetuous idiot.

Which leads to the next question - that of what to write next. I still want to make the 50K of original fiction during November, I just feel it will have to be split across two separate projects. And if I'm on something a little more friendly to the brain cells I might actually find getting there easier. Because when I look back over this blog I see that 7,000 words in a single day happened more than once with the PMD. Yet the most I've managed with No Man's Land was 4,500.

Of course this might all change if I wake up tomorrow with the bridging bit of the plot in my head.

But I do have other options. I have been toying with a YA contemporary supernatural story set in Leicestershire (strangely where I live), a very English paranormal investigations story, another Ben Williamson novella and about a dozen other things so there are stories aplenty to be told. I just need to settle on one and get writing.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Saturday so far

I realised I had forgotten to include something in my blog entry yesterday. There was one thing that slipped my mind with the shock of last night's news. It feels a little crass to mention it now only 24 hours later but this is a writing blog first and foremost and it is writing news. So here goes...

I have sold another short story - the third since picking up writing again. I can't post any further detail yet (I don't know all the details myself at the moment) but once it is all confirmed I will post more.

Today has seen a little writing done, although a good deal of the morning was watching the special report on the Paris attacks.

I find violence incomprehensible. It just fit in my psyche. It might sound a little weird given I have written several horror stories and subjected my characters to some fairly vile experiences. In the first novel I wrote (one which will never see the light of day - not unless I give it a major overhaul anyway) I spent three chapters slowly skinning the lead character alive. But that was just a story and not something I would consider in real life. And I will add that the people who did the skinning did meet a well deserved nasty end.

So watching the reports was horrifically surreal. I just don't know how I can express how I feel at the acts. I can't imagine how the friends and families of the victims feel or how they might go about rebuilding their lives.

By the way don't think that I only care about my fellow Europeans. Every death of a human being, be it in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas or Australasia from any cause except old age is despicable. And I do think that the western media gives too much emphasis when its "one of us" affected. You know an earthquake in Europe in which 100 people die often gets more airtime than one in Asia in which 1000 people die.

I was horrified to think I am one of the same species as those pulling the triggers and deliberately killing people because they happen to be in a bar or attending a rock concert.

We have a lot to commend us as a rave, us humans. We have created so much greatness; art , literature, science. We have conquered every corner of the Earth, overcome all obstacles. Twelve of us have stood on the Moon's surface (conspiracy theorists - get over it) and we've sent probes out to all the planets and dwarf Pluto.

But despite all this I find the callous disregard we too often show for our fellow men and women does raise the question - do we deserve to survive as a species? We need to get over our troubled adolescence as a species and learn what matters; and what matters is every single life.

Anyway, rant over. Sorry about that. My fingers kind of got away from me. Onto other matters and yes, I know they are going to sound a little anticlimactic after that but hey...

Have taken another step towards sorting out the remains of my old scifi/superheroes collectables business. For those who don't know I used to trade in comics and memorabilia and 20th Century bizarrely art glass and pottery especially West German Pottery / Fat Lava (check out a friend's site on this stuff and Scandinavian Glass (go google Alsterfors for an example).

I sold the going concern part of the business about eighteen months back but not all of the stock. A good portion of it has been sitting in my library taking up space since. Well today I took a step back towards sense when I sold eight boxes of comics to another dealer. Only nine more left. And before anyone thinks I'm mad for mentioning this online in such a public way I set up a limited company for my trading and this sale is being declared through the company's accounts, just as any moneys I earn from my writing are.

That done, back home and on with some writing. Well because of the TV watching and business dealing I have not had as much time as I had initially expected to write. But I have at least done some writing today. After the head block I've had through the second half of the week it's good to be back typing with some kind of reasonable speed.

So not up to my normal speed but I've added 2,160 to the novel today. My NaNoWriMo count is up to 24,605. Given that this is just four hundred words short of halfway to target and there's still one more day to go before halfway in time I still have a decent chance. Will need to get some good writing days in this coming week to get ahead again. I don't want to leave it all on the last week.

Right - it's late and if I'm going to add some more words to the novel tonight I'd better get on with it.

End of Week Writing Catchup and general thoughts

Just a few thoughts on writing and more.

Wednesday I was out at a work function - a pub quiz which we did not win, never mind. It was great fun though. Good to see my colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere. I did manage a quick bit of writing when I got back as my wife was still out at band practice. But it was only 470 words. Not quite up to my normal level. Never mind.

Thursday though made it seem unreachable heights. I had one of those days. Just didn't feel it. I did have a look at the story but just wasn't going to happen so I watched a TV show or two with my wife - her band (other band) rehearsal having been cancelled. Very pleasant evening but no writing.

So tonight I was determined. Although I did decide it was best to send in a submission or two of the YA fantasy novel The Patternmaker's Daughter. No use it just sitting there. So there are seven more submissions out there in the world. Hopefully one person out there will take a liking to Elspeth.

That done - headed back to the novel and after an initial false start managed to get it going. Started chapter 13, added a quick 790 words scene to the story.

Then took a break, flicked onto the news and saw the reports from Paris. All of a sudden writing didn't seem important.

I'm not an expert on the human race. I know I'm one of them (and at this moment I almost wish I was not) but I do not understand much of what motivates some people to do what they do, especially when it is something as atrocious as killing an innocent. It makes me feel that as a species we are not worthy of this planet, and of the chance it gives us for life.

My thoughts, as I think are those of the vast majority of people with any compassion in their heart, are with the injured and with the families and friends of those killed, and with the people of Paris and France as a whole. We are diminished tonight.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Tuesday NaNoWriMo and all that

Tuesday evening is rapidly (and annoyingly) heading for its end. Time definitely passes too quickly. Fortunately though I have made good use of what time I did have tonight and have  been abusing this poor keyboard quite horrendously. So much so that I have added another 2,140 words to the novel, Here's the breakdown of stats

Tonight 2,140 words
Novel 48,622

What I have added tonight will mean chapter one will need to be rewritten once I start revising but that can be later. For now I just want to get to the end of it.

After ten days, a third of the month or 33.3%, I am 42.3% towards my target. Just as well I'm getting ahead as I might not get any writing time in tomorrow night as it's the work pub quiz night. We will see.

Now going to relax for a while before sleeping

...and then it will all start up again tomorrow

Monday, 9 November 2015

Uber quick writing update

Short on time tonight so have to be much quicker than I'd like.

Managed a section of the novel tonight - added another 1,155 words. But it's a bit a rejig. It came to me I'd started the novel a bit too late. I needed to put something in before chapter 1 and I already had an Introduction. So I was left with two alternatives. One: renumber all existing chapters up one and create a new chapter 1 to kick things off. Nah!

Or two, as this isn't exactly supposed to be a serious book - with the invented sub genre of bawdy scifi-noir comedy how could anything about it be serious - I have started writing a chapter zero. It made sense to me at the time.

So, end result, novel is now at 46,482 words. 19,045 have been written in NaNoWriMo mode and it's only the 9th. If all goes well I am on target for hitting the 50K. Good thing as I am out one night this week  at a pub quiz and attending a writer thing in Derby at the end of the month so will lose some time later.

Right - got to go. Will hope to have more time another day

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Weekend is done - writing update

Well the two days of the weekend have passed with their usual rapidity and we all head back to work tomorrow. One of the facts of life I guess. And I'm fortunate to have a job I don't hate. I quite enjoy large parts of it and like many of my co-workers. So I'm luckier than a lot of people. But it does mean for the next five days my opportunities for writing are limited. Just as well I did okay-ish over the past couple of days.

As anyone who has been reading my blog entries over the last few days will know I am doing this NaNoWriMo thing. I will have to admit though I'm not doing it quite as in the heart of things as others. I did pop along to the first meeting of the Leicester group but found that it took a large chunk of writing time up which seemed to kind of go against the idea. Hence my not going again since.

I wanted to make that clear in case anyone might think I didn't enjoy the experience of it. I met a group of friendly book obsessed people - or to put it another way, my kind of folk. But it's not far off an hour to get into Leicester, find somewhere to park and get to the coffee shop where the meetings take place; same amount on the way back and the nearby car park is £3.50 an hour.

I just weighed it all up and thought I could do a lot more actual writing if I don't stray from my computer for four hours on my main writing day. So apologies to the people in the group but I will not be back. And I have to admit there's a part of my not being the most sociable of people thrown in their too. I like my own company and quite often am not in the mood for others. Well except for my wife. There's never a time when I don't enjoy being with her.

On with the point, man. (Channelling my wife)

It is now eight days into NaNoWriMo or 26.6% of the way through the month. In that time I have written 17,890 words, or 35.78% of my target. So I am ahead of the curve; exactly where I need to be as I am missing Wednesday evening this week (a work function) and a good deal of next Saturday going round to a friend's place to advise him on setting up a sideline business.

Essentially he's getting into comics trading in addition to the memorabilia trading he does now and I might have a history as a comic dealer so I am going to go impart wisdom and drink Pepsi Max. That's a regular part of our get togethers. Talk a lot, drink caffeine. What do you expect if you put two mad Star trek fans in a room and leave them to it. Hmmh, that's a point. I think this will be the first time I will have seen him since the announcement of the new Trek series. No doubt we will go on about that a bit.

All of which means it's a good thing I'm ahead of the count. So I am setting myself a little target for the end of next weekend. That will be the 15th so I will be 50% of the way through the week and my aim is 30K. I want to be at the 60% completion point halfway through. Let's see how it goes.

Right - away from writing. Apparently there is more to life that inventing others.

Some TV watching has been wedged in between all this keyboard and English language abuse. My wife and I are both superhero junkies to one degree or another. I read more comics than she did as a kid but we watch all the films and TV shows. This week has been little crammed with other stuff so we have Arrow, Flash and Supergirl all backed up. Well so far today we've watched the first two and they were two pretty good episodes.

The episodes (Flash S2 E04, Arrow S4 E04) both moved the season's plot arc along well, introducing what I would imagine will become a significant part of each show for the rest of the run, without failing on the entertaining front. Good job on them both.

Now I need to head off and watch the Supergirl episode before getting some sleep. This is the show that the jury is still out on. I'm not sure of the characters as yet or whether it is a little too YA for my tastes, but I'm willing to give it a good chance. I felt the same way about the Flash after all and that got good. And as for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - that was frankly awful for most of the first season and now is one of my unmissables.

Let's hope Supergirl goes the same way.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Thoughts on Mr. Holmes (and maybe Doctor Who)

Saturday night in my family is movie night - or occasionally Scandinavian drama night. Tonight there was only one movie that any of us wanted to watch - Mr. Holmes starring Ian KcKellen and Laura Linney. Since we'd first heard about it we had this intense desire to see it and thankfully it didn't disappoint even with all the added pressure our expectation heaped upon it. It was simply a wonderful English movie.

A quick bit of info for anyone who doesn't know. It's 1947. Sherlock Holmes has grown old and is starting to suffer from dementia. He's beginning to forget things. For a man who holds his intellect and memory above all else this is a truly frightening thing. It's the one thing in life I'm more scared of than almost anything else and that one thing involves my wife, the woman who has shared my life these past 23 years. I'm not even going to type any more on that.

Suffice it to say the thought of losing who I am as I get older would be terrifying and my mental powers are not even on the same chart as the greatest fictional detective of all time. I do consider myself an intelligent man. I am a University graduate (back in the 1980s - I put the century to stop some of my so called friends making the inevitable joke). I have a love of and a great deal of knowledge of physics - even reading books on Quantum Theory for fun. (I suppose I really should look up what that word means.) I speak, to varying degrees, Italian, French and Dutch; although claim to be truly fluent in none of them. And I work in a technical field.

That's me. Good but not even close to compare to the kind of intellect with which Holmes was created. So I could not even guess what levels of despair such a thought would raise in that man. So Holmes is old, nearing death and he forms a friendship with a young boy (not in an Operation Yewtree way though). And the boy wants to know the story of Holmes' last case. The only problem is he cannot remember it.

Cue lots of wonderfully English Englishness; cups of tea, memories of Victorian times and extremely old stone built country cottages by the seaside. I'm a sucker for all the old fashioned imagery - and no, I am not harking for the olden days when Britain actually mattered. I am a realist and live in the here and now and don't still consider Britain great. but it is a fantastic backdrop against which to set some superb stories and this is up there with any of them.

So wonderful film finished we needed something a little more lightweight to end the evening so we lined up the episode of Doctor Who from earlier in the evening. As with every story this season it was a two parter and this was the second half. Now last week's I found as weak as most of this series and wasn't holding out much hope for tonight but it picked up big time for me.

The conclusion included a bit of intense acting stuff from Capaldi that made his Doctor a little more believable as being the continuation of all the earlier Doctors. It's been probably my biggest criticism of his run as Doctor (and this is nothing against the actor who I think is superb). It's just he's felt a bit disconnected from all that went before. Now for the first few episodes this was good. All Doctors need to settle in and figure out who they are but they have always had something of the Doctor running inside them.

This one had precious little of it until the mostly monologue argument with the Clara Zygon and Kate Stewart. Then there was something that made you think - yes, this guy is the Doctor. I want a little more of that. And please can we have some variety to the format. Every story being a two part story is not right. Some singles and maybe a longer arc. Difficult to do with only four episodes and then the Christmas special I know and even more difficult considering everything was filmed weeks/months ago. I just hope the don't give me two more lots of "To Be Continued".

That's it really. No more thoughts. Am going to have to go away and try to think of more euphemisms and sick metaphors for carrying on the novel tomorrow. I need to get a little ahead of the curve tomorrow to stay on track for the 50K for the month. I have written 14,706 words in seven days at an average of 2,100 words per day.

But one day this coming week is going to be a null pointer (Eurovision style) as the company where I work has organised an employee pub quiz and I'm going. So that will be a deficit of 1,667 words (average required per day). Then there is the fact that I don't get as much done on the other weeknights either due to the smaller amount of time so my Saturdays and Sundays need to make up for it.

Today saw 3,467 added which is not bad but it shows that this novel is a lot tougher to write than the earlier ones. I went back to the blog entries I wrote about progress on the Patternmaker's Daughter and I achieved over 7,000 words on more than one occasion. I feel if I manage 4,000 tomorrow I will have done wonderfully well. It really is that much of a difference.

Maybe I did pick the wrong type of novel to go for my NaNoWriMo push but it's too late to worry about that now I guess. And besides the only other one on the stocks is a historical fantasy novel set in late fifteenth century Venice. I have to keep looking stuff up for that one which slows me down even more.

No, I am committed to the Comedy SF-noir story I've called No Man's Land and I am determined to see it through. 42K words is a fair chunk. I should finish it, especially as my wife (I may have mentioned her before - she's the one I write all these stories for if I'm honest) wants to know how it's going to end and what colourful expletives I might invent next.

Anyway - it's late and I need to go get some sleep if I'm going to do all this writing tomorrow. So good night to one and all. If you're a writer and taking part in NaNoWriMo I hope your writing is on track; if you're a writer but not doing the challenge this year I hope your writing goes well according to whatever schedule you are trying to maintain; and if you are a reader I hope you find the next book that will keep you awake for just one more chapter no matter the cost to your wakefulness the next day and introduce you to characters that will remain a part of your life for the rest of it.

If you are none of these things then I pity you. You are missing out on greatness.

Good night

The latest epistle from the boring life of a writer (with swearing)



I was thinking about writing and what kind of a life it is. Now I accept that this will change if I ever manage to get a book published but until then it is the kind of life many would find deathly dull. You see there really is only one way to get a book written and that's to sit at a keyboard and hit the things with letters on with your fingers in the hope that they form words and the words form sentences that will actually make sense to someone reading it later.

You really don't do anything more exciting than that. Now if the miracle of miracles happens and one of these days the email I get back from an agent or publisher is a yes rather than a "we'd rather boil our own heads in battery acid" then I might find out if there is excitement on the other side. But for now I just keep typing, editing, submitting, and waiting for the inevitable REJECTIONS

Now please don't take this as any kind of depressive posting. It isn't. It's just the reality check. This is what being an aspiring novelist is all about and I am willing to put myself through it because the thought of holding a book WOT ME WRIT is too fine a prize not to strive for.

And it's why I'm finding this current book interesting. It's simultaneously the hardest thing I've tried to do and the most fun because I'm trying to fill it with euphemisms for all manners of scary scenarios and bodily functions. It's due to it being narrated by a wide boy, larger than life character.

S it's fun to let rip with a few expletives but difficult to keep coming up with them. I'm going to post one in this blog to give you flavour. It will be one of the tamer ones; I don't want to upset anyone. I think I've filled enough screen to give anyone time enough to stop before I get naughty. By the way, the euphemism isn't all that naughty. That stuff's still to come but it's a step in the direction of it.

It stung like a battery acid enema.

See I told you it wasn't that bad. Some of them get quite colourful but I figure if it does ever get published we can always stick a Derek and Clive style "Not for Sale to Miners" warning on the cover.

Right now to get to the point - boredom. I've started to do something of late that many tell me is not a good idea but somehow it seems to work for me, or at least it is on this novel. I'm alternating writing with messing about on twitter, posting regular writing updates and general silliness.

Part of this is announcing when I get to the end of a section of writing (I write my stories as a series of short scenes which hopefully link together and make some kind of coherent sense), when I hit a word count milestone and keep a running total of my NaNoWriMo progress.

The thousand markers I post as I pass have start to include the exact word (or when applicable phrase) that reaches the milestone and it started to look as though (nearly) every word that coincided with the next thousand was either rude or at least slightly suggestive. I got some interesting replies from these posts on twitter so I decided to make a list of them and go back and work out what the earlier ones were.

Now I did notice the mood of the novel has changed a little as I've gone on. It's become a lot more euphemism heavier as its progressed and I've got into the narrator's character so I will have to go back and umph it up a little once it's done but for now I have the list of the first 42 words than marked off the thousands. So what else am I going to do with it other than post it in a blog entry.

The list is below and this is where some rude words will appear for what I think is the first time ever in this blog. Talk about smutty. Anyway even of my preamble - here's the list

1000 kill
2000 asteroid
3000 crisis
4000 pedantry
5000 Exec
6000 freezer
7000 dick
8000 shit
9000 penguins
10000 Dogman
11000 fucked up
12000 axe
13000 Squid
14000 lapels
15000 maximum
16000 mission
17000 corpses
18000 breath
19000 concrete
20000 paperwork
21000 piss
22000 cheese
23000 slobberings
24000 admini-bastard-stration
25000 distended
26000 arse
27000 processed meat
28000 crotch
29000 allow
30000 morons
31000 teethnumbing
32000 Locust
33000 Ratshitsville
34000 spleens
35000 lemmings
36000 hara-kiri
37000 medics
38000 nut-clamped
39000 lungs
40000 Belly dancer
41000 shaved
42000 speculum
Now if you can work out what the plot is from that then you're a better man than me, and I've written the damn thing.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Thursday Catchup

Two days ago I had an acceptance for a short story (mentioned earlier). Since then I have been brought back down to Earth a little; two rejections in two days.

The first was for the political sf novel Against the Fall of Empire and came from an agency. The second was for the horror novel Mr. Stinky and came from a publisher. That reminded me how hard this game is.

Of course I am not letting it stop me writing. I just have too many stories in my head trying to break free to risk stopping. And I do get some nice words for my writing from time to time, and not just from my test readers. A couple of agencies and publishers have been very positive about the stuff they read just saying it wasn't something they could do anything with. If only I could guess what it was they could do something with; within my scope of writing. I'm not going to try to write a romance novel or a spy story - I just don't have that kind of thought.

So back to what I do write. I've been expleting my way thought the hopefully comedic sf-noir detective tale on a space station I've called No Man's Land. Well I have written more than ten thousand words on it since the start of the month.

My NaNoWriMo total currently stands at 10,452 words and the novel itself is up to 37,889. I have managed to rejig part of the subplot I had in mind so the novel still has enough ground left in it to get up to length. Or at least it will do when I go back and add in a section or two earlier in the piece to support what I'm about to do.

Over 10K in five days, four of which I've had to go do the day job in, I consider to be not too shabby. I should have some more time to add to it this weekend so hopefully it will grow a little towards the 50K total.

Music choices helping tonight have been some wonderful selections from
 - Dio
 - Disturbed
 - Amon Duul II
 - Tom Waits

I never said I had a normal taste in music

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Writing Update - Good news

Another one of my short stories has sold to the Literary Hatchet. This is the second of mine they've bought since I started writing again. The first one was a dystopian future focusing very much on despair. This time it was a comedic horror story featuring a vampire in a bit of a pickle. The email gave me a bit of a boost when it arrived. Feels good.

Now to get on with the comedy scifi novel - time to invent some new expletives.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Very quick Monday post - inc writng update

First day back at work after a week off is always a jolt to the system. Still at least I don't hate my job. Anyway it is late and I have another day in the office tomorrow so I have to be brief.

I kept up my momentum on the NaNoWriMo - 50K in November effort this evening. Another 1,294 words written bringing the total to 5.367 in two days. My wife is out tomorrow night so I can see a few more being added.

I may have mentioned one potential issue with the 50K target. I am not totally sure whether to add the second plot that would mean this could get to 50K more on this one project. But I do have three other potentials to move onto should I reach the end before completing my task
 - a YA scifi on a ruined Earth - sounds a little too of the now so I might pass
 - another weird novella in which to torment Ben Williamson
 - an adult fantasy set in Venice in the 15th Century

One of them should do the trick

Anyway - it's a school night so I got to go sleep. More tomorrow

Sunday, 1 November 2015

NaNoWriMo has started - big writing day

Well it's November so that means NaNoWriMo is underway. I had a morning away from the keyboard but once midday struck I was pretty good all afternoon. End result was an opening day count of 4,073 words. Can't complain at that. The novel (possible novella - still not sure about including the B plot) is now up to 31,510 words.

I do need to get some more submissions out there in the next few days but I will see if I can maintain some kind of impetus every day and get at least some writing time in. Let's see how quick I can finish this sucker.

Away from the keyboard we have finally started to watch Extant - and yes I know it's a year old already. Well first episode wasn't too shabby - certainly good enough to get me watching more. Although with five or six shows having restarted and Grimm joining them this week it's got competition for my limited time - especially as my week off work is over and I have to go back into the office tomorrow.

Now I quite like my job but it's been rather nice not to have the alarm going off for the past nine days.  Won't take me long to get back into the swing of things. And it's not long until Christmas and I can do it all again. Even down to the Nordic Noir blitz season; although it will be Jordskott and not Beck next time. There's no way we're going to store up The Bridge for a solid session, we'll all want to watch those as soon as they're aired.

Well I need to think about sleep now. That alarm clock will drill its way into my cerebellum at 7:10am. That's not music to my ears.