Showing posts from 2016

How to Run a Company (Novel Finished)

Well, at least the first draft is done.

In case you have no idea what I'm on about, I have been writing the first draft of my latest novel over the past few weeks and now it is finished. And the novel is called "How to Run a Company" to completely get rid of any lingering confusion. It ended up a few words over 85K, it's original planned length so I manage to stay on course. Of course that may change when I revise it. I could find it needs a whole bunch of changes that could add or subtract huge swathes of text.

The book is a bit of a satire on modern business; albeit I hope in something of a gentle way. I don't want to portray being massively against capitalism or globalisation. My personal view is that these are inevitable but they do need a little policing. Let capitalism run riot with no restrictions and it will destroy itself and take us all with it. But restrict it too much and no progress will ever happen. You want life to improve then it will take capita…

The Department of Wilful Obnubilation

It's been a while since I've last blogged. I'm sorry to anyone who actually enjoys reading blogs in the age of the YouTube vlog channel. I've been going through one of those periods of wondering why anyone would want to read anything I write. And so I've not been doing it.

It's kind of an odd thing. You see I've been getting back into my writing (novels etc.) pretty well after a brief hiatus and am now a little over 58K into my latest novel. I probably should tell you something of that and might in a while but I want to keep things a little more general first.

I started this writing malarkey some years ago and concentrated entirely on non-fiction articles and short stories. I wrote and sold hundreds - mainly book and film reviews I admit but sales are sales so I take them all. I even managed to compile and sell a bunch of horror crossword and other puzzles. It was going well.

And then it wasn't. Something in me changed. Literally overnight. I stopped w…

Saturday and... you never know (writing)

My recent run of brick wall after brick wall continued. I went back to my earlier attempt Tithebound, a fantasy novel set in an industrial revolution period world, and tried to get it going again. I managed about 3000 words and then it stalled again; for the same reason it stalled originally. I am not in the mood to write it.

I like the idea of the story. I like the main characters, especially the obligatory character you're designed to hate, and think the plot has quite a bit of originality in it as well as a decent enough story. And the setting appeals to me. I can't think of many fantasy stories set in an industrial revolution period. The closest I can get is some of the Shannara books but that are set in a post apocalypse world so having some tech is more a case of rediscover than invention. It strikes me writing this that maybe Gormenghast might be a better comparison (oh, if only I could compare my writing in terms of quality).

When I started that book I had the beginn…


I can't believe it's been a couple of weeks since I last posted a blog entry. Time flies like an arrow (in the way fruit flies like a banana),

I have been writing a little. I started a new novel a little while back - I blogged something to this effect back on the 24th July. Well it's a sf novel and I'm about 14K into it. The only problem is I'm just not feeling it. I might hand it over to my test reader after the Olympics and see what the feedback is.

Or to put things another way I'm not getting out of my funk. I mentioned this before about not having finished a story for a while. I get so far and just... well... stop being interested. And if I'm not interested in it I can't see a reader being interested. It's a complete bugger.

I like writing. It gives me a sense of satisfaction, but it's dried up a little. I think I need some time to go away and plot out a story for a week or two and get the whole thing onto paper in a notebook like I did for…

Old books - collecting update

I collect books. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read one of my previous postings. Well a week or so ago (and sorry for the delay in posting this - other things like writing took priority in a busy week) I went into one of my favourite second hand bookshops (in Polesworth, near Tamworth) and bought a few books. And, being the type, I thought I would share some details. The books were (all are paperbacks)

Saul Dunn - the Coming of Steeleye
Saul Dunn - Steeleye - the Wideways
Saul Dunn - Steeleye - Waterspace
Frederik Pohl & Lester del Rey - Preferred Risk
James Blish - Midsummer Century
James Blish - ...and All the Stars a Stage
Bob Shaw - Nightwalk
Robert Silverberg - Vornan-19
Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson - Star Prince Charlie
Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson - Earthman's Burden
Lin Carter - Time War
Christopher Anvil - the Day the Machines Stopped
John Morressy - Starbrat
Jack Vance - the Pnume
Leo P. Kelley - Mythmaster
Jack Williamson - See…

Perhaps a change of direction

A couple of weeks ago I started writing a new story. It's called "the Writer, Writing". I've mentioned it on here before - comparing it to one of my favourite authors in terms of subject matter (although I will stress again, not in terms of quality). It is a nothing story - a quirky little idea that appeals to me. But I've always had a fondness for stories where the lead character is an author/writer; as well as a fondness for stories where, when you think about it, nothing actually happens.

Well I handed the first few parts of it (a little over 21, 000 words) to my number one test reader and I have my first impressions of what someone thinks about it. On the flattering side she said she liked it and wanted to know where it was going. On the downside she said this was a Stephen King book 30 idea. From earlier conversations I know exactly she means by this.

You see (and I know this depends on how you count but trust me this is the not all that relevant bit) the 3…

A quick few thoughts (writing)

A few day's ago I wrote a blog entry that was a bit of a meandering passage through some of the my thoughts entitled "Writing and politics, odd bedfellows". In it I talked a little about the new novel I had started writing and compared it in content terms to one of my favourite writers - Zoran Živković.

Well, much to my immense pleasure and great shock he obvious saw it and posted a reply to the posting. As you might imagine I've been a little in shock at it. I'd never expected him or anyone else I've blogged about to see my postings. And to reply to it, well that was incredible. I was probably a little insufferable for a while after that.

Now, a few days later, I have had a chance to fully absorb the thought and I'm still fairly shocked. If you are wondering why just go read some of the man's writing and you might well understand it.

Added to this I have to say I feel relieved. I've encountered one or two of my heroes before and it's not alw…

A post entirely about writiing

I'm hoping tonight means I have my writing mojo back. With my wife out at a gig I thought there was no point in not giving writing a go. So I loaded up a new document in Word and started typing. It probably helped that I had filled several pages of my notebook with a first draft version of chapter 1 before starting. It certainly didn't hurt to have this kind of head start.

Well, nearly six and a half hours after starting I have 6,935 words of a new novel written and I quite like it. It's different from anything I've written before, in mood and subject; although I will have to admit a fantasy style subplot has taken root in it.

I've had one or two days in the past when I've written more words than that but it's always been in the middle of a pattern of writing. To do this out of the blue, days removed from  previous writing efforts pleases me exceptionally. I'm hoping it means I'm back on track to writing regularly.

Right now I'm not going to ov…

More expense? Necessary? Well spent?

I've just read a news report on the arrival of the RAF's first two stealth fighters. Apparently each plane costs over £70million. There are plans to buy 48 of these by 2023. Now forgive my crude maths (I only have a university degree in the subject) but that's £3.3billion. Eventually the aim is to have 138 (9.7billion). Am I the only one who says what the...?

Now I am not totally against maintaining a strong military to defend the country but who are we going to fight that would mean we need 138 of the latest generation of warplane? All the countries that come to mind when thinking about that question own nuclear weapons so war with those nations is insanity anyway.

I realise that there have been plenty of small skirmishes we were involved in the last few years and that there will be many more instances when Britain needs to stand up and play its part in ensuring the safety of others in the years to come (and hopefully not many instances of the war mongering we've see…

Writing and politics, odd bedfellows

I've tried to get my head back into things post the EU referendum. It's not been easy as I fear for the future of my country (and for my own future - I do not have the luxury of independent wealth to ease me). Watching the Last Leg on television last night helped. If you've not seen this program you should give it a try. It's a comedy show featuring Josh Widdicombe, Alex Brooker and Adam Hills that takes a look at current affairs, often from the point of view of the disabled and other minorities (both Brooker and Hills are disabled).

Last night I laughed so hard at one of their sketches (a puppet show that explained the recent Tory Party shenanigans) that I was finding it difficult to breathe. I needed that release. So if any of the three presenters ever read this (or any of the behind the camera staff) I would like to thank you all. Since watching that I have felt a whole lot better.

So much so I got the writing bug back. Just as well I did as I have the whole evenin…

More about the UK and the EU

Writing is taking a bit of a back seat at the moment. Being a passionate Europhile and form believer in the benefits we in the UK have reaped through membership in the EU I have been a little bit down and finding my mind a little torn in other directions than writing. Sorry for anyone who wanted to get updates on my writing but it's just not happening at the moment.

Well after nearly a week since Brexit the falls in the FTSE 100 have been reversed; in fact the FTSE has closed higher today than it was before the referendum. The FTSE 250 too is seeing a fairly impressive rebound although it is still considerably below where it was. But I fear this is not indicative of our future merely that the markets are playing a let's see. I'm sure we are in for more turbulent times in the future.

Now I'm not going to go on about how I consider this to be a wrong decision. I'm not going to bemoan my fate. After all whether or not I consider the decision right or wrong it is now …

Goodbye HS2! Goodbye Trident!

We are not going to be a member of the EU for all that much longer. As a result the UK economy is going to suffer a negative impact. As is the norm in times like this government incomes are likely to fall at the time when expenditure is likely to rise. This will mean an extension to the austerity this government have been running for the last few years. And in my opinion it should also mean the end of some of the large projects they have been planning which have dubious return.

Or to put it another way, can all you politicos please cancel the HS2 and Trident programmes. Doing this will commit the UK government to £100billion less spending - and yes I know this is a figure that would have only grown so in truth it will save far more.

Now this will cause a few job losses in and of itself. I live near Derby, a city which would have seen some benefit from Trident as it is home to Rolls Royce and potential some through HS2 as it also has a large Bombardier presence. But I am not advocatin…

An apology to the people of Europe

I've been umming and ahing about how to write this blog entry since I saw the result on Friday. I'm still not totally sure I know what to type here. I just feel I need to.

As anyone who knows me, or anyone who's read this blog over the past few weeks/months, will know I am a passionate supporter of the European Union. I don't consider it perfect. I'm not blind to its imperfections but I have faith in it. I hope I still can even if the UK is no longer a member as looks inevitable.

I have watched the EU grow over the years and celebrated each new accession. I have been happy to see people from all member nations come to Britain, believing their arrival has improved my country both financially and culturally. I have visited several EU countries, even learning an amount of French, Italian and Dutch to make this a more immersive experience. (BTW - I am not claiming to be a good speaker of any of these languages.)

But on Thursday most of my fellow Brits and UK resident …

I hate the word "great" (An EU blog)

Okay, maybe hate is a little too strong; I don't really know if there is anything I really hate. I dislike a lot of stuff; who doesn't? But hate? Anyway - enough of semantics. I really do feel a need to type and it's not on my novel (much as I do want to work on that a little more).

It's the EU. Obviously it's the EU. With it being four days away from a referendum in the UK how could it be anything but the EU Referendum. I feel passionately about the EU. I don't blinker myself to its faults, of which there are many, but I believe that it is a tremendous force for good in the world. And that world includes the UK. I think we have benefitted enormously from being a member nation over these past 43 years. And this isn't just a fat cat big businessman benefit. Yes, being in the single market does make a lot of cross border business easier (even given some of the bureaucracy it adds) but it extends beyond that. It affects us all and in a mainly positive way.


Book collecting update

On Saturday just gone I happened upon the book stall in Derby market. It's a good little stall, one I've visited often, and my hopes were high. I was not disappointed. You see, fairly recently, the stallholder bought a collection of old science fiction books and many of them were on the stall. So I had a bit of fun sifting through them - and buying several. So I am here to brag a little about my finds and to list them (I do like a good list). There might be one or two you've not heard of....

Ray Bradbury - The October Country (okay maybe this isn't one you won't have heard - bear with me)
H. Beam Piper - Gunpowder God
Jonathan Fast - Prisoner of the Planets
Christopher Priest - Real-Time World
Gardner F. Fox - Warrior of Llarn
Barrington Bayley  - The Fall of Chronopolis
Joanna Russ - Picnic on Paradise
John Russell Fearn - Conquest of the Amazon
Philip Jose Farmer - The Wind Whales of Ishmael
Philip Jose Farmer - Inside Outside
Judith Merrill - The Tomorrow Peopl…

Back to writing

My wife is out tonight playing a gig (for anyone who's not read my earlier postings; she's a saxophonist in a 40s style jazz band). This means I had plenty of time to give some writing a try. And fortunately I also had a novel idea I wanted to work a little more on and the mood to do it.

So after three CDs of listening (Metallica, Paul Simon and the Smiths in a wonderfully eclectic mix) I have written four new scenes totalling 2,911 words and brought chapter one to and end on 4,347 words.

I am relatively happy with it. I also have a couple of sketches of what will become chapter 2 on paper. Hopefully I will get time to work on this a little more in the next day or two. I like the idea of this story.

To give you a quick précis - the story follows a 12 year old girl as she enters holy orders (in a religion where there are thousands of Gods). She is a devotee of the religion believing in it totally. Of course she's going to get a quick course in reality and some dark things …


I've been quiet. There is a reason. I was in Holland; on holiday.

If you think this is strange; I can understand you. Holland is not top of many people's list when they think of where to go. Spain and Greece might be several leagues higher. I suppose I've never been normal.

For one thing I don't like beaches; or crowds for that matter. I have a fondness for history; for old buildings; canals; art; and coffee shops. Or to put it another way; old European cities. In the past we've visited many Italian cities; Rome; Venice; Milan; Turin; Verona; Brescia; Asti; and so many more.

About four years ago we rented a cottage in Northern France and headed across the border into Belgium once or twice and instantly fell for the country. So much so we rented a cottage in Belgium the following year; as well as the year after that. And on one of these trips we drove into Holland; score another obsession.

This year we rented a cottage in Oosterhout. I would tell you the details so…

A new direction

A little while ago my writing stalled. There were a number of factors involved in this; some of which I will spare you but I will confirm they included a slight question in my mind about the story I was writing. You see I was writing a science fiction novel set in a future version of Africa which I just wasn't getting. Now I still think that somewhere inside the idea is a good novel, I just need to rethink some elements of it and maybe do a little more research first,

So I have spent the time since I stopped writing doing a little thinking. I keep notebooks wherever I go in case ideas come to me and I want to make a record of them before the flit away. So I sat down and read through a dozen or so of them (yes, I am kind of obsessive) in the hopes one of the ideas might jump out and demand to be written.

After a while I narrowed the list to three of the stories and let my brain wander through each of them to see which one grew enough meat on the bones to be the one to go with. And…

Referendum Blues

[Sorry for getting political but I just can't steer clear]

It's less than six weeks until the EU referendum in the UK; six weeks until we know just how screwed we are all going to be.  Yeah, I'm rather fearful that the people of the UK are about to vote to leave the European Union even though all common sense tells me that staying in is the only sensible option. And this covers all ends of the political spectrum.

You see being in the EU is good for Britain's businesses. We have full access to the European single market making trading within its borders much easier. This has many benefits - for one a lot of investment is drawn into the UK from outside because we have this access. Take that away and this money could well end up going to other nations like Germany and Ireland.

But it's not just the business types that should be in favour. The ordinary worker, you and I, have all benefited from the UK's membership. Many of the workplace rights that you have origin…

Funk over or a temporary blip

Not sure if today was an exception or a new writing norm. After all it's not exactly possible to judge after a single day's endeavour is it? The fact is earlier today I sat at this keyboard and tried to write the next part of my new Ben Williamson novella and nothing happened. So I gave up, opened up this blog and started writing an entry. I figured if I'm not writing I might as well get back into the feel of typing sentences. Couldn't hurt.

Well I wrote a blog entry. You might have read it. I posted it, tweeted a link to it and closed down the browser expecting to head off to watch some TV. Underneath was the Word Doc I'd so completely failed to add much to. I reread the single paragraph I'd written, decided it was terrible and deleted it. I then thought it might be worth another go at getting at least that paragraph done. Sixty words or so is better than nothing. So I did. This time it worked a little better. And when I got to the end of it I had an idea of …


I've been in them for a little while now. I've written on only two days in the last four weeks. I'm hoping this doesn't continue but I can't say for sure. I'm giving it a try today but my head is just not in it. Even the decision to give up writing the science fiction novel I started at the beginning of April to try my hand at another Ben Williamson novella has not got my juices going again.

It's annoying; especially as I think the science fiction novel I stalled on, the Church, could well be the most original idea I've had for a story yet. Of course that's pretty much irrelevant if I never write it. I guess all I can do is remain hopeful it will come back in the future and try not to get too down about it.

I am still having ideas though so I guess things are good in that respect. The other night I went for a walk around the village where I live with my wife (one of the ways we are trying to maintain at least a modicum of fitness as we get older). …

An original phishing email and then politics

I receive dozens of phishing etc emails each day. I'm sure anyone reading this, or, for that, anyone who goes online, receives similar quantities. It is one of the curses of the digital age. So every day when I download my emails I start off by deleting all the crap (I'm including the spam and Facebook updates in this).

Mostly these unwanted emails only attract enough attention to trigger the autonomic right index finger depressing the delete button action. Today though it was different. I actually stopped long enough to read one. Now please don't think I was going to be fooled into doing something truly stupid like opening the zip file or clicking on the link. I'm not that daft.

The reason I hesitated before just deleting was I'd not seen this particular variant before today. I received an email purporting to be from the International Court of Justice in the Hague. It even had the correct address. I recognised it as I've actually been there. (Only as a touris…

Another weekend, another book hunt

Today I had the opportunity to pop into Chesters, a second hand book shop in Polesworth (just outside Tamworth). It's a real old school used book store. I've not been there for quite some time which is a real pity (and comes with no small amount of shame). The shop is on two levels, both filled with rabbit warrens of shelves all packed with thousand upon thousand of books on all subjects imaginable.

I did buy three books while I was there

Gerard Klein - The Day before Tomorrow
Bob Shaw - Ground Zero Man
Bob Shaw - The Two-Timers

Strangely the first of these shares its title with the second novel I wrote (one of the two I have deemed should never see light of day - not without considerable rewriting anyway). I can't remember ever having heard of this title but I can't say for definite I hadn't ever. Maybe it just sat at the back of my subconscious until a suggestion for a book title was needed. Thankfully the story is nothing like mine so I can't berate myself …

The Return of the Collector

It's been a while since I had any real success out on the collecting trail so today has come as a welcome change to the norm. I went into Ashby and then Derby and have a few to boast about - some of which are just my kind of thing. Anyway here is the list of the new additions to the collection. (All are A format paperbacks unless noted)

Shaun Hutson - Shadows
Ian Graham - Monument
Karen Miller - Innocent Mage
Brian Aldiss - The Primal Urge
Philip K, Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep HC
Jean Jules-Verne - Jules Verne: a Biography HC
John Farris - The Uninvited  HC
Gardner Dozois - Strangers
Hal Clement - Cycle of Fire
Barry Malzberg - Overlay
Norman Spinrad - The Men in the Jungle
A. E. van Vogt - The Changeling
Eando Binder - Menace of the Saucers
Jack Bertin - The Pyramids from Space
Hilbert Schenck - A Rose for Armageddon
Lindsay Gutterridge - Killer Pine
Edmond Hamilton - What's It Like out there?
Frederik Pohl - The Gold at the Starbow's End
Avram Davidson - …

Thursday - a few quick things

My wife is out every night this week. She is a musician and plays in the band for a local musical theatre group. And this is show week. So in theory I have lots and lots of time to get huge amounts of writing done.

Problem is it hasn't quite gone like that. For one thing I finished my last novel at the weekend just gone. So I went into the week of much time without a current project and no real idea of which story I should tell next.

Well that last part is now behind me. I spent three days not writing to clear out all the places, characters and plot points of The Stairs Lead Down. This involved watching an awful lot of comedy clips on YouTube. I have a fondness for the Scenes We'd Like to See segment of BBC comedy panel show Mock the Week as well as for George Carlin.

Head cleared and decision made I started in on chapter one of a new novel - a science fiction novel set in a future Africa on a very changed world. I'm calling it the Church. Of what I'm not going to say…

The Return of Book Hunt

It's no secret to anyone who knows me or reads this blog that I collect books; mainly science fiction, fantasy and horror books. I've been doing so for nearly four decades and do not intend to stop any time soon,

Well I've not done much of it in recent weeks. Weekends have seen me doing other things - lots of writing for instance. Yesterday though I had to go into Derby with my wife do I made the most of it. While she was safely ensconced in a coffee shop reading her latest book I headed around all the charity shops Central Derby has to offer. And I came away with ten new books for the collection

David Weber & Steve White - Insurrection ppb
James Tiptree, Jr. - Ten Thousands Light-Years form Home ppb
Juliet E. McKenna - Northern Storm ppb
Richard Laymon - The Midnight Hour ppb
David Gemmell - Bloodstone ppb
Robert E. Howard - The Conan Chronicles Vol 1 (part of Fantasy Masterworks series - book 8) B format
Michael Marshall Smith - What You Make It B format
Guy Gavriel…