Showing posts from January, 2016

And the trippers of the light fantastic

Despite being a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy and a Terry Pratchett fan since Strata for some reason I'd never seen the adaptation of Colour of Magic. Well being ill today and not writing has given me time to actually watch the darn thing.

Now I'm not going to say I'm glad to be ill. That would be insane but making the most of things I've enjoyed this TV miniseries. It's very well done; well acted, well directed and thoroughly well made. Good show

Of course from a writing perspective this weekend has been a bit hit and miss. Yesterday my brain was working. So much so I added about 3000 words to the current novella. Today though, in contrast I've added barely 200 words and they were to complete a scene I'd started to write yesterday. Sitting upright and thinkng weren't things that coincided much today.  My two blog entries have been written on my iPhone whilst lying down.

I've had my usual luck with illnesses. I always seem to be unwel…

Rush Retirement

I've had over a month now to ruminate on Neil Peart retirement announcement. Even if Geddy Lee's clarification of him only having retired from touring is true it's still pretty final. You see, I've been a Rush fan almost as long as I've been a music fan.

Way, way, way back in the pre-Internet dark ages, before Britain had even 4 TV channels (yes, I'm talking about the 1970s) a school friend and I found a copy of 2112 in his elder brother's record collection. (Not sure if his elder brother knew we were rifling through his record collection but 35+ years later he would probably forgive us.)

Well the album worked it's magic on both of us and a few weeks later I had my own copy; something I'm sure my mother was deeply happy about. So this band is one of the longest in terms of service of my personal listening and they are still in the top 3 favourites and if pushed I'd probably put them at #1.

So for them to not be a thing any more is a downer. But…

Writing progress resumed

Despite feeling pretty lousy (don't be too sympathetic - it's just a cold. We all get them) I have managed to get a good amount of writing done today. I'm at 2,806 words for the day. It's the second most productive day of January. Not much of a boast to be honest. It's not been the best month for writing.

I think I've got less written this month than any month since restarting this writing thing. With one day to go I'm on a mere 21K for the month. Just think two months ago I was bemoaning falling 2.3K short of the 50K mark. December managed to hit 42K without aiming for any special target. That's twice what I've achieved this month. Scary.

Now I could point to the fact I've now been ill twice in the month but I'd probably just be finding an excuse there and I'm not a liker of excuses. I know I have been doing a lot of revision of the bawdy scifi novel No Man's Land. I'm not far off the second revision of the book. All but six ch…

Getting some kind of focus

I've been serious about this writing lark for about ten months now. In that time I've written four novels and three novellas plus a few short stories. One of my friends, a published fantasy author, is jealous of this volume of output. She shouldn't be. I'm jealous of her. She has three published novels. I may have completed seven book length stories and revised them to 3rd draft (except for one of the novellas) but none have yet passed the crucial test. None have got that nod of acceptance from a publisher or agent.

Not that I'm downhearted about it. I've come close. I've had somke very complimentary things said about my writing. One agent said she thought my horror novel good enough to be published but that the UK publishing market wasn't in the mood for debut horror writers and she wouldn't be able to sell it.

She's the reason I've mostly stopped trying to write horror and have been focussing on science fiction and fantasy. See the titles…

Comparing TV series

If you've read any of the previous entries in this blog you will know I like European drama. I've blogged about a number of shows like the Bridge, 1864, the Killing, Salamander, Unit One, the Protectors and others.

Well some more have been in my viewing crosshairs of late. And I'm going to compare a couple of cross border shows; Crossing Lines and the Last Panthers.

We watched the first two seasons of Crossing Lines in good binge watch style and the show was fantastic. The show featured a pan European team featuring members from France, Italy, Germany, Holland, the UK and the USA. Each week they took on a crime with cross border elements and headed off for another part of Europe (or the USA). Okay, not entirely fair; there are some two parters in there and a bit of a running thread running through the whole.

This second series, the Last Panthers, is a little different in one key regard. It's less of a crime of the week type show instead doing the Killing style single …

The weekend starts here (as if)

It's Friday. It's half past five. Theoretically the weekend starts here. Well except it doesn't. At least not in the sense of partying. I'm a bit of a sicky. For anyone reading this who is female, yes I have man-flu.

It's not too bad; I mainly just feel cold. As a result I intend to do next to nothing for the next two days, beyond maybe some TV watching and a bit of writing. My plans to finish the revision of the bawdy scifi and send out a bunch of submissions might take a bit of a hit - might not. I'm just going to see what I can do.

I remember last time I was ill. I found writing pretty easy - but the reading part of revising not so much. You never know how these darn bugs are going to hit you. Whatever happens I'm probably going to be fine to go back into the office eon Monday. It always seems to happen that way for me. The only time in my life I had flu I came down with it on Christmas Day, the first of ten continuous days of not having to be at work a…

Midweek madness

Well, another week is already more than halfways done (work wise anyway). Time goes far too quick for my liking (I guess for anyone's). More worryingly this is the last week in January. Come Sunday night and we will be at the end of the first month of 2016.

Now I know time is a constant (unless you start moving really fast or get too close to a black hole but that's a different matter) but still this seems fast. It's a perception thing. The older I get (and hence the less time I have left) the more time seems to speed up. I'm not after sympathy by the way. I know I'm not alone in this feeling and to be honest I don't fret about it. What's the point, I can't do much about it. Well let's move on to something other than a morbid fascination with time.

Writing seems the best place to go. I have had a bit of a stop/start writing month. Since starting of the month by finishing the first draft of my third Ben Williamson weird novella with a reasonably cre…

Quick writing update

Today has seen me writing again. It's been a while - I was feeling under the weather for the last few days and getting through my work days was proving taxing enough brainpower wise so writing hasn't happened much. I have done a little revising of the bawdy scifi and a blog entry or several but generally nothing much was happening fiction wise.

That changed today.

I turned another four chapters of the bawdy scifi No Man's Land into 3rd draft and wrote a further four scenes to the fourth weird Ben Williamson novella. It total I added 2,244 of new fiction to the slate today. Not too shabby.

Anyway, weekend is nearly over and I have to go get ready for work again in the morning. Boo! Hiss!

I should get a bit of time this week to do more and providing I have the brain capacity spare I'm going to try to catch up and put some decent writing sessions in.

More later.

Book collecting upate

Yesterday was a Saturday and we had some free time so we popped into Burton upon Trent for a couple of hours (just because it's nearby). Well the inevitable happens - there are charity shops that have books so I go for a quick trawl.

Well yesterday wasn't the most successful but I did find a few. so here's the list

Dan Simmons - Hyperion (B format)
ed. Ben Bova - Exiles (3 novellas by Poul Anderson, Eric Frank Russell and Isaac Asimov)
Michael Moorcock - Blood
Julian May - The Many Coloured Land / The Golden Torc Omnibus
Michael Scott Rohan - The Lord of Middle Air

Here's a photo of them

I have copies of the first four of these books already. I'll probably keep the Hyperion, as I have an A format not this larger edition and I like the cover, and the Moorcock as I have it in hardcover only and he's one of the authors I'm getting a little completest about.

The real pain was the one book I didn't previously own - the Michael Scott Rohan. Charity shops oft…

The thing about writing

Back in November, during the height of NaNoWriMo season I hit a few days of not writing - damnable bad timing.
I put it down at the time to putting too much pressure, too much expectation, on myself. After all 50K in a month would be easy.
Well this last week I've had another such writing free time; only this time for a different reason. I was feeling under the weather.
Now in and of itself that wouldn't have been a problem except for the day job part. The mental energy I did have was used up there leaving little for writing. I did read through another 3 chapters of my bawdy SF novel making red pen corrections but no new words.
I think this is the way it's always going to be unless a miracle happens and I not only sell a book but it earns me enough that I don't have to have a day job. That's a pipe dream though.
I have been scribbling in my notepads though. There are more notes on my 4th weird Ben Wlliamson novella and on the secret society paranoid SF novel so I could …

Attitudes change (some trivial, some not) Ends with a bit of politics

This is something about the world I have noticed over the past decades. People's attitudes to things change and one generation has dramatically different attitudes to the ones before. It's natural I know, but it just got me thinking. And the more I thought about it the more examples I could recall. So I thought I'd type a few thoughts down here.

I'm going to start on somewhat safe grounds - comics. When I was a kid I loved superhero comics. I had this thing for Spider-Man, the X-Men and others. It was mainly a Marvel thing although there were a couple of DC characters/titles I liked. Think of the Green Arrow/Green Lantern tie up for one.

Now back then I got a lot of snide comments from people for liking comics. I didn't care overly. It wasn't the only thing they thought was odd about me. I didn't care then; something in me actually liked being a bit different and it wasn't as though they could do all that much about it. On my twelfth birthday my height…

In the TV doldrums

I am not a big watcher of TV. I like music too much and spend a good deal of my time on my PC writing so TV is not a constant. However I like good TV drama (and science fiction - can't forget science fiction). The thing is at the moment there's not much of it out there.

And I'm not complaining about the quality of the TV shows being made at the moment. There are some extremely good shows about - as well as some that are okay but for some reason just appeal. The kind of thing I'm on about can be found on the below list.

The Bridge
Game of Thrones
The Flash
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Crossing Lines
Agent Carter

That's just a sample - there are others.

Anyway the point when I get to it involves something that seems to have come into UK TV viewing of late and that thing is the mid season break. This is a weird thing. It's one of those US/UK culture things.

Now I understand why we are starting to get it in the UK. The American schedule has these …

Quick writing update

Not got much time so this is a brief highlights (or lowlights) package

Yesterday and today have both seen two rejections for my YA fantasy novel the Patternmaker's Daughter drop into my inbox. Bugger.

I have been splitting my available writing time between revising and writing a new Ben Williamson weird novella. The bawdy scifi novel is in third draft up to chapter 11. Chapter 12 & 13 are now covered in red ink and await the write up of these changes into final copy.

The weird novella saw one section written on Sunday (521 words) and two more tonight (1360 words).

It is now up to 3060 words and I fear it is not going to let me get back to the Secret Society novel until it's done.

Anyway I'm off now to spend some time with my wife and she will read the new bits of the novella so I will get some quick feedback

Told you this was quick

Frank Zappa and stuff

Before I get to writing (next post will include some writing stuff) I thought I should mention my re-igniting my liking for the music of Frank Zappa.

Several years ago I had a number of vinyl albums (several thousand) featuring a great deal of sixties/seventies psychedelic/progressive/etc rock. Then a sequence of things happened.

Firstly we were burgled and the thieves stole my hi-fi; or rather they stole most of it. I would have actually preferred it if they'd taken the lot. But they didn't. In the process of making off with all the separates that made up my music system them dropped my turntable - my beautiful Linn turntable - smashing it into pieces on my floor.

Not long after this I had surgery on my left ear which left me with permanent (if low level and a little intermittent) tinnitus and a reduced hearing range. So I didn't buy a new separates system even though my love of music was undiminished. After all why spend the thousands of pounds to rebuy all the kit I ha…

Some TV thoughts

Should I be writing? Possibly but Saturday night (unless my wife is playing a gig somewhere I cant go to which is reasonably often) is a non writing night as it's family film night; even if it doesn't always include a film.

If you've read any of my previous blog entries then you'll know we are fans of Nordic noir and have watched the genre beyond the standards like the Killing and the Bridge. Well this week the first episode of a new Norwegian series  called Occupied started. We recorded it and saved it for tonight and we were not disappointed. It's good fright from the off.

The basic premise is a geopolitical one. Move into the near future. The middle east is shut down with civil wars, the US has gone all self sufficient and exited NATO. Norway in the middle of it all announces it is ceasing oil production. As you would probably imagine this isn't gong down well in the rest of Europe. It's a gripping story and I want the next episode now. Unfortunately I&…

OK, time to 'fess up

Today my plans (once I was done with going out this morning and actually getting some life in) was to concentrate solidly on the revision of the bawdy science fiction novel No Man's Land. Well you know what they say about best paid plans.

The problem with it was the trip into Ashby this morning. Ashby has a main street (Market Street) with all the shops and two smaller parallel roads, one either side where the car parks are. I tried the car parks on the nearest and found them full so headed across to the far side and had no difficulty whatsoever - unless you count paying in the first machine but it giving me no ticket which was annoying.

Anyway to get to the crux of the point - these two parallel roads are called North Street and South Street. I'm not going to tell you which way round they are.

On the drive back a new Ben Williamson novella idea popped into my head and wanted to be told. I tried my best to put it off. I even managed to a degree.

No Man's Land is now in 3r…

The weekend starts here (or 12 hours ago)

Before you ask it's not like I've only just surfaced. Contrary to popular belief amongst some people I do exist before 12noon on a Saturday and Sunday. It's one of those myths I don't get. After all come the summer months and most weekends will see me wandering around a car boot sale (US = swap meet) by about 7am on the hunt for old science fiction books.

Today though there are no car boots - probably due to it being both dark at that time in the morning and sub zero. It is January after all. Anyway, writing; that's what I decided this blog should be about. So I'd better get on with it.

After yesterday's mostly lazy day (and a quick visit into Derby) to celebrate, or better put as ignore, my birthday; I am now back determined to write, or rather, revise my (hopefully) comedic bawdy science fiction novel, No Man's Land.

To that end before I'd even showered this morning (so a bit stinky) I read through chapter 8 and covered the pages in red ink; one …

Some quick thoughts on revising this bawdy scifi novel

Point one relates to the heading of this blog entry. I have had conversations with a number of science fiction fans over the years about the shortening of the genre's name. Many of them hate scifi or sci fi or sci-fi or however you want to space it. Asimov didn't like it - I seem to remember reading that in his autobiography.

Well, personally I don't care. And it's listed as sci-fi in too many places now to really stress over it. It's just a name - as long as they are no denigrating it then all is good as far as I am concerned.

Okay - onto the blog itself. As anyone who has seen any of my tweets over the past few weeks or reads this blog in detail I wrote a bawdy scifi novel I called No Man's Land. I even wrote it as my attempt at NaNoWriMo which was probably a mistake. Again - detail on that has happened already.

Well I did the fairly quick skim through to correct the obvious issues a little while ago - mainly fixing grammar and spelling and making sure no ch…

Watching 80s B-Movies - started me thinking

Back in the 1980s I developed a rather bad habit. Together with a school friend of mine we would regularly head to the local video store and seek out the least rented VHS tape (as long as it was science fiction, fantasy or horror) and take it home to see why no one had rented it before.

We saw some completely awful movies doing this - Mutant Kid springs to mind as particularly appalling. Had a lot of fun doing it but sat through a ton of serious rubbish - stuff that wasn't even bad enough to be funny.

The problem with it long term though is it sets you off on a dangerous path. Because of the great (new definition) 80s straight to video fare - films like Trancers, Enemy Mine and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. I will admit when I first saw the last of these I did rather like Molly Ringwald. Now before any of you think I'm a bit of a perv as she was fifteen when she made the film, I was fifteen when I saw it. We're almost exactly the same age. I had the same …

Midweek meanderings

I posted a stream of consciousness blog with thoughts about modern life compared to when I was a kid, concluding it was just different; not saying better or worse. It's had a remarkable life in the last three days when compared to my earlier posts.

Generally a post of mine gets into the teens when it comes to views and takes a couple of weeks to do that. I guess this blog isn't all that exciting. Ah well.

Not Sunday though. Sunday's blog entry has had 33 views - more than any other I've done by a way. Considering it was long and mostly irrelevant to anything it surprised me. Maybe that's what I should always do. Anyway - this one is going to meander a little but it will mostly cover some writing and then a couple of odd thoughts about life


I've not tweeted for two days - and I've not written a single word of new fiction. I've been concentrating on getting a third draft of the bawdy science fiction novel No Man's Land completed so I can…

The world is stranger

I mean it. I remembered when I was a kid  - and by kid I'm thinking teenager - everything seemed a lot simpler. And this is despite the fact I was at University studying astrophysics.

Now before you go any further I want to let you know something. This might verge towards sentimentality and is probably best avoided so if you choose to read any further I am not accepting any responsibility. I'm also going to meander as I' not sure where all this is going. To quote a good friend of mine, this is about to go a bit stream of consciousness on you.

Now my brain is an odd thing. It thinks about stuff. Tonight I gave it some decent stimulation to go thinking. I finished watching a documentary on the Jam, an English pop band who in their (too) short career went from a punky style outfit on In the City, through mod inspired for All Mod Cons, Beatles influenced on Sound Affects to end with a Soul album par excellence with the Gift. I loved each and every one of these albums and stil…

Return of the book collector

We had to go out today - winter is finally giving it a go here in the UK and I have lost my gloves so...

Whilst out I took advantage of the opportunity to try hunting down some more of those elusive book things. I found a few - although many were duplicates. For completeness sake here are the details

Michael Marshall - The Lonely Dead HC (dupe - already given to someone)
J. M. Dillard - Star Trek: First Contact Novelisation HC
Francis Spufford - Red Plenty HC (not a sf novel)
Philip K. Dick - Minority Report HC
Michael Moorcock - The Nomad of Time
Philip Jose Farmer - Gods of Riverworld (dupe)
David Eddings - Pawn of Prophecy (dupe)

This last one is very important to me. You see, I thought the Belgariad was one of the best fantasy series I've read. And this is book one. I already have books 2-5 and the complete Malloreon in my dupes pile that I've wanted to give to a friend to read for some time but was missing the first book. Now I have it I will be giving her the full set o…

It's difficult getting back into things

The first week back in the office after the Christmas break is done and it's now Saturday. Hurrah for that - maybe.

The thing is I'm not totally in headspace wise with what I want to be writing. I have started a new novel (A World out of Balance) which is a bit Dan Brown in flavour. My wife thinks this is a good idea as the genre is still a bit trendy so it might have a chance of selling. That's not a driving force with what I write but I will admit I like the idea of seeing a book published so I can see the attraction in it.

But the problem is I'm not feeling the story as much as I do with the other stories. It's not that I'm forcing it or anything. I don't write like that. I have to have the idea down in my head to a decent level before I can start writing. This one I have to a decent degree. I have the first five or six chapters nailed. I have the world set up - characters all sorted, concept fully formed, ending fixed, a few issues to sort on the way. …

Decisions, decisions

I faced a quandary writing wise in the last couple of days. I've recently started to write a bit of a paranoid science fiction conspiracy novel and I've got two completed first drafts of other stories that need to be relooked at.

So I made a decision. I've started to revise the bawdy science fiction novel I finished a month or so back (No Man's Land). Having read through the first few chapters I have noticed one thing. The voice that I'd settled into by the end of the book was far from a finished article at the start. I need to rewrite the introduction and the first couple of chapters a bit more than I had anticipated.

Here comes decision number two - what style to rewrite them in. I had a couple in mind. Change the voice so it matched the rest of the book or convert the introduction and pretend it was written by someone other than the narrator. Either would work.

Well after conversing with test reader number one I'm opting for the former. So I am going to be …

Wow does that hurt

Okay, second day back in the office is now done. It won't be long until I get back into the swing of working life fully but at the moment it hurts every time the alarm clock goes off. I mean, who in their right mind wants to wake up before 7am? I don't I know that. But I need to pay the mortgage so I need to do the work and that means an early start.

Of course if I sell a few novels (and they sell well) and everything might be different. Of course that's all mere pipe dreams at the moment. Even if I do sell a novel at some point I am well aware that making a living from writing alone is not likely. I've probably made it worse by heading straight for the nerdy genres like science fiction.

Anyway as I may have (did) mentioned in a previous blog entry I have started a new novel. I can't report it is going all that quickly at the moment. I could blame it on a number of factors - going back to work, and starting to revise No Man's Land amongst them. But in truth it…

Last Day of Christmas Break

I would like to start this blog entry with an apology. I realise there many people who went back to work immediately after Christmas, and some who didn't even get Christmas off. I'm thinking of a police officer friend for the last one - so, sorry Sarah.

I though have had ten days off. Thoroughly enjoyable it's been but tomorrow I will be heading back to the office to begin a new work year. Darn it. Maybe this year will be the one in which I find the secret of independent wealth. Maybe I'll sell and book and then get that phone call from Mr. Spielberg that I'm sure isn't coming. Yeah, I doubt it too.

Well I have managed some writing in and amongst the compulsory festivities and, as you by now cannot possibly be surprised I'm going to give you the stats on it. Inevitably really wasn't it? I do tend to be a bit of a stats freak.

25th December - January 3rd (10 days)
21,079 words written
Daily average 2,108 words

January 3rd
month to day - 8,134 words

A new novel

During the last few days of writing the third <> Ben Williamson novella I was mulling over what should be the next project. I like to have the next one ready to go before finishing. The problem was although I had a favourite from all the possible options I didn't have enough of it to start writing and I was finding it hard to get going.

So much so that I even wrote a second section of the comedy horror I intend to write at some point and that's in even worse state than my intended next project. all I have of that is a setting, a bunch of half sketched out characters and the opening murder. I have no idea where it's going to go yet. But as I knew what I wanted the first couple of chapters were going to be it was as good as anything to write a few hundred words of yesterday afternoon whilst I had time.

Today though carrying that on just would not do. So I decided to not even switch on my computer at all until I knew what I was going to do. I as going to sit down and l…

2015 - the Year of an Aspiring Author in Review Part 3

So where were we? Oh yes, nearing the end of October with the Patternmaker's Daughter done and dusted. It was a little over a week until NaNoWriMo was due to start so I needed a project. Fortunately one had occurred to me - back to science fiction. This time it was the setting that came to me first - a vast space station with its own character. The story is named after the space station - No Man's Land.

I slowly added a detective story to the setting, then characters started to coalesce and off I went. Three chapters in I realised something. I realised the voice of the narrator was completely wrong. His character was much more coarse than I'd started, much more colourful. So I change tone. It does mean I will have to rewrite those three chapter when I revise but I was going to get the first draft done before worrying about it.

NaNoWriMo started well for me. Now for those who don't know what this is, it's a yearly event that encourages writers to actually write by …