Sunday, 28 February 2016

It's good to be back

As mentioned in my previous blog I have spent a few days away from writing and enjoying time with my wife. Today though, she had music to arrange. Her time off after the pantomime is at an end. There is work to be done for the upcoming production - Anything Goes. There are only five weeks until opening night. She has to get busy now if it isn't to get too hectic later.

As a result I had plenty of time to get writing and I took full advantage of it. Today I added five new scenes to my YA supernatural novel the Stairs Lead Down comprising 3,243 words. And a few extras just for good measure. As I started to type this blog entry the way to start the next scene came to me. I just had to type it up before I lost it.

I did that last night. I had this idea for a twist to the plot of a future novel - or rather an interrupted novel. A while ago I started writing a SF conspiracy novel called a World out of Balance. I wrote about 6.5K and then decided I wasn't happy with the plot so stopped to reconsider. Before I had resolved it the idea for the current novel overtook me and so it will have to wait. (Maybe longer than intended as another idea I'm currently calling the Church... is demanding my time.)

Well last night a twist came to me. It wouldn't resolve the main problem I have with the central plot but I felt it would make things a little more interesting. The problem is I didn't write it down. I got distracted - a nuisance during an aside to my life. today I am left with this feeling that it was quite a good idea but no idea of what the idea actually was; annoying in the extreme.

Anyway, hoping that it does come back to me at some point - something triggered the thought in the first place, maybe it will again - let's get back to the point of this blog entry. Like I said, I get distracted.

The three thousand words I wrote today were the first since Tuesday last week;  Four entirely writing free days passed in between opening the word doc. Four days of enjoying time with my wife; in my opinion a far better use of my time.

Despite that break, and a similar pause right at the start of the month while I was finishing off the revision of the bawdy scifi novel and finalising the plot for this new story, I have written 42,658 words so far this month. With one day left to go until the end of February I think I might get it to 44K. Unless of course I have another day of wife-time. (She is likely to be busy so I may well be writing.)

I am content with this level of output. It feels good. And if I manage a good writing month throughout March - aided by the gradual ramp up in time my wife needs to prepare for the musical opening in early April - I am hoping to finish the novel.

You see today I reached the halfway point; or rather the halfway point to my original target of 80K for this story. It might well creep up a little; maybe 82K is more likely from where I am now. The novel now stands at 40,113 words. A month to add that amount again doesn't sound too far fetched. Of course this might be delayed by the need to revise my third Ben Williamson novella. The market I am hoping to send this into, a publisher very local to me, may well be accepting novella submissions next month so I need to get a move on.

And I need to get back to sending my novels into other agents and markets. I have been a little remiss at doing so these past two weeks. There is little point writing if you never give your writing a chance to shine. It's been a while since I've had a rejection - maybe I need to point some work into getting more of them. Let's see how it goes.

Right now though I am done with this keyboard for the night. I am going to post this entry now - tweet a quick link to it and then go and enjoy what remains of my weekend.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Absent days

It's been a few days since I blogged. It's been a few days since I wrote anything. In fact since last weekend the only day I've even opened the word doc for my latest novel was Tuesday. There is a reason and for me it's a good one. It's my marriage.

The previous week my wife was out all the time playing saxophone in the band for and being musical director of a pantomime. I have mentioned it before I know. Well this week she wasn't and, apart from Tuesday, she was in every evening. So I wanted to spend the other events with her. I did marry her for a reason after all. 24 years together is a good start in my book.

So writing took a back seat. Although it was not entirely missing from those days. I have been working on the plot of the next novel, the Church... This is going to be another where I don't give away the title, at least not in full. Fortunately this time I can at least refer to it partially. My 3rd Ben Williamson novella only has a one word title and until it is accepted somewhere or I eventually get bored and self publish its title must remain unknown

Anyway I've been working on how to tie up the subplots and merge them together in a, hopefully, not contrived manner. I have a couple of them sorted, the timeline for two more pretty much sorted for how events match up to the main story and one or two more ideas for extra complications. This one could get huge.

It's also one I'm a little worried about. When I received an email (rejection obviously) from an agent I've had a bit of an email chat with about my science fiction novel Against the Fall of Empire she told me it was good; well written , great characters, interesting and original plot. But no one was buying such books. And now it seems my brain wants me to write another one; just as political, just as world encompassing in scope and probably just as Unsellable. What to do?

Forcing it is not an easy option. I have the ideas I have and this story I want to tell. It is the kind of story I would love to read. But it isn't likely to sell if what she tells me is true(and I have no reason to doubt her).

Still, that's an issue for the future. I'm only halfway through my ya paranormal novel. I need to Finsbury that. Especially as I am just about to introduce a couple of characters that I created for an earlier aborted novel. I loved these two when I created them. It's just their novel never went anywhere. I couldn't work enough plot together tightly enough to to make it sound convincing.

I never forgot them though. And so when I needed a spooky pair who were stil human and alive why not reuse them. The main character in my story. 15yr old Lizzie, is going to be glad of the help. She was getting a little fraught.

This is why I keep notebooks btw. When I got to this point in working out the plot and realised the need for more characters I just rifled through the pile of notebooks looking for the one that contained their bios and I had everything I needed.

So, to sum up;
 - I have enjoyed a few days off writing being a happy husband
 - I have all the plot sorted for the next bit of my current novel and will be back on it today
 - I have an idea that excites me for the next novel but unsure it's genre is the right one to write

Better get on I guess

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Top 10 science fiction books (of today)

Every now and again I see a top ten or top fifty or top hundred list of something or other. And everytime I'm suckered in to reading or watching it. I seem to have a bizarre fascination with them.

Well yesterday I saw a post somewhere online that I've already forgotten listing some guy's top ten science fiction novels. I read it and agreed with precisely none of them. Not a surprise; there have been an awful lot of books. And I will say the list had some damn fine books on it; just not my pick.

So, inevitably, I started jotting down in one of my notebooks, what might make my top ten. And having done so I thought it would make sense to post the list.  Please note, this comes with a couple of provisos. I am not claiming to be an expert in SF. I might have several thousand SF books and magazines but does that make me an expert? It might do; not sure.

Secondly, if you ask me tomorrow, or next week, it might change. There would be something of an overlap - about half I'd guess; maybe more. But it wouldn't be exactly these ten.

Anyway, enough waffling; I should get on with it. List follows; the order is arbitrary. It reflects nothing other than the order they came into my head.

Robert Charles Wilson
 - The Chronoliths

Michael Moorcock
 - Behold the Man

Ward Moore
 - Bring the Jubilee

Frank Herbert
 - Dune

Lester del Rey
 - Police Your Planet

Robert Sheckley
 - The Status Civilsation

Edmund Cooper
 - Five to Twelve (damn, should I change this to the Cloud Walker?)

Arthur C. Clarke
 - Rendezvous with Rama (same as above but with Childhood's End)

Margaret Atwood
 - The Handmaid's Tale

Isaac Asimov
 - Foundation

There you go; on list. I want so much to include about thirty more; maybe fifty. After all this leaves out Slaughterhouse-5, Neuromancer, Forever War, Ringworld, the Stars My Destination, a Canticle for Leibowitz, and I could go on.

But it's a list. You'll have to let me know if any of your favourites aren't there.

Monday, 22 February 2016

A Lesson Learned

I should start this off on a positive note. I had a book offer. It feels good to have had someone rate my fiction highly enough to make such an offer. It was for my horror novel Mr. Stinky. That did kind of surprise me. I hadn't expected to get an offer on that one ahead of the Patternmaker's Daughter. And it was from a legit publisher - one that does not charge the author a penny and pays actual royalties. All good.

Now you are probably expecting to hear the downside. I wouldn't have called this posting A Lesson Learned  if there wasn't a downside coming. Well there was one.

Now there are a couple of things I am not going to do. The first is name the publisher. The second is say a single bad thing about them. They have done nothing wrong whatsoever. I suppose in light of that I could but I am not going to. I will however tell you something about them (not enough for you to even make a guess on who they are though).

They are a small press who publisher in a range of genres. As I said they are a traditional publisher. They edit the book, sort out ISBNs etc and get the book out there. All good.

The problem for me came when I looked into the idea of having a small press book published in the US. I have a lawyer friend who was good enough to read the contract and give me some advice. She had a couple of concerns which the publisher sounded willing to negotiate on (or remove from the contract) so we could have got a bit closer. The one thing that worried her too much was the fact the contact would be enforceable under the laws of the state in which they operate. All of which makes sense - until a problem might happen and I would need a US lawyer etc.

Now, not a high likelihood but still present. I would be willing to go with it despite this if it wasn't for the second problem (and this is mine).

My book is parochially English. It is set in the Midlands between Solihull where I grew up and the East Midlands where I know live. These are not going to be places an average American would have heard of. No disgrace - most English people won't have heard of the place I live. They should know Solihull but I wouldn't put money on it.

As such it might not have the greatest appeal to American readers. Add to this living a few thousand miles from the market where the book is published and the appearances that can boost the sales of small press books aren't an option. This means it is not likely to sell all that many copies and I would not earn that much from the book.

Which presents me with my second problem. You see were that end of this issue I wouldn't be worried. I'm writing hoping to see one of my books published and people reading it. This would achieve that. Making a fortune from it is not my aim. (It would be nice; but not the be all and end all.)

However if I am paid in the US I am liable to pay US Income Tax. Cue the second conversation I had - with my accountant. Setting up the US Tax people stuff and administering it remotely is expensive. I'm fairly sure I would struggle to make enough money to pay for the admin cost.

I want to be published, yes. I don't mind not making a fortune from my writing, yes. But can I afford to subsidise my writing by paying more to handle paying US tax than I would make from the book? The simple answer is no. I have a mortgage to pay. If I have spare money enough to pay such a fee I would much rather pay that money off my mortgage and bring us that little bit closer to owning his house outright.

So this evening I have had to write an email to the publisher thanking them for their offer and the kindness of allowing me time to assess the offer but that I would not be able to take it up. That didn't feel good. To be honest it felt pretty shitty. I feel bad for them. They spent time reading my manuscript and must have felt they could make some money from publishing it. And from my perspective I no longer have a offer of publication.

I'm a year into this new writing effort and no further along. Now, before you moan it's only been a year and some people take several, I know. I started this thinking it might be years. I am still thinking it might be years. And I am still determined to keep going for it.

I will keep writing novels. I will keep submitting novels. However I think I might restrict myself to submitting to UK based small press publishers. If I sub to the USA it will be to agents and larger scale publishers. That way it will at least give me the chance of earning a decent amount if accepted - enough to cover the cost of doing it.

One last thing to report; if you are a believer in karma then today may well have backed up your belief. I have received three rejections in my email. Two of them are for the YA Fantasy the Patternmaker's Daughter; the third for bawdy sf No Man's Land.

I hope you will forgive me for not writing anything this evening other than this blog entry. I am really not in the mood. Tomorrow though, I hope, will be a different matter. I want to try to maintain the momentum with this current WiP - my YA supernatural the Stairs Lead Down. And yes I know I said I was thinking of changing to the name of the novel to Steadfast Hall but I haven't.

I had an even split with people choosing between the two so I thought I would leave it as is and, should the miracle happen of someone wanting to publish it, I would ask their advice. For now though, I will concentrate on trying to get it finished in good time.

After all I have the idea of an epic science fiction series in my head trying to muscle it out of the way. I need to get it done asap so my brain can go back to concentrating on just one story.

And at some point I need to get some more submissions out there.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Cardinal sin

I've committed a writing cardinal sin; one I always knew I was prone to and indeed one I've succumbed to in the past. I have started a new novel even though this current one is far from finished. I hang my head in shame. I will try to not do it again in future. And I realise already I am as likely to keep to that commitment this time as I was when last I made it.

The culprit is a science fiction novel set in Africa. I had this idea about a week ago for a novel with a pretty weird central concept. It's slowly mulled in my head and many pages (22 at last count) of a nice new fresh notebook have been covered in my scrawl. They won't be the last to be defaced. Now normally that is enough to stop my getting sidetracked from my current WiP.

I just write down some thoughts at the end of each day into one of the notebooks on the shelf next to my side of the bed and it keeps them from interfering when I reach the keyboard the next day. Only it didn't work today.

The reason was I had a killer idea for an introduction and wanted to get it down on (electronic) paper before my mind lost it. So this afternoon I saw down and allowed it to have its hour or so in the spotlight. 1,495 words later and the introduction was complete and I could once again return to the YA supernatural story The Stairs Lead Down.

Thankfully I was able to get my head back into it and add three scenes totalling 1,629 words to that one also. Not a bad writing day. And I'm not finished yet. I have the desire to write at least one more scene - hopefully two.

Progress on this YA novel has been pretty good. Today is day fifteen since starting. In that time I've taken it from zero words to 30,721. That's an average of over 2,000 per day (2,048 if you're being precise). It's not an average I have any chance of maintaining.

You see this is the last night of the pantomime my wife has been Music Director of. Tomorrow afternoon and evening she will be in the house and we will be catching up on the TV shows we've not watched (Elementary, X-Files, Agent Carter and the like). Then this week she will be out for just one evening rather than all of them.

This is good in most ways - I like spending time with my wife after all. I did marry her for a reason. and that reason holds as true to day as it ever did - more so in fact. So if she is in the house and not needing space to work on music I will be with her. Writing average might go down but it is so worth it.

So what I should do right now is stop writing in this blog and get the heck on with it (notice PG-13 cursing. Or is heck U rated?)

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Needing to pace myself - signs of getting old

I looked upon this week as a fantastic chance to do some serious writing while my wife was playing saxophones for the pantomime. In my head I saw myself moving things along in a very speedy manner.

Well it partly came true. I added nearly 4K on Saturday, 3.5K on Sunday. good start. Monday came around and back to the office during the day. Once it was evening and I was back home I got down to it and added another 2.2K. I was a little disappointed in that and thought I might be able to improve it come Tuesday. That didn't quite happen.

Tuesday night I was tired; very tired. I managed to add 1.7K but it was a struggle. Wednesday was even worse, both in terms of how the writing and how I felt (and yes I know my wife was more tired - she was playing after all; all I was doing was writing). It added just two scenes and 1.4K.

You see my wife was getting in at around midnight, still buzzing from the show. So we'd sit and talk for a bit, waiting for the adrenaline to leave her system and then head off for sleep. One Tuesday that was after 1am. The alarm still went off at 6:45 no matter our need for sleep.

I hadn't considered the tiredness. Back when I was in my twenties I would not have even noticed; same in my thirties. In my early 40s it would have been tougher but I'd have been able to cope until the weekend when I'd have been able to go all comatose for a while. Not anymore I'm afraid. I have to admit that time affects me. And I guess only being a week or so the other side of having the flu it was always going to hit hard.

Fortunately my wife is far more sensible than I am. Yesterday she suggested we book a day off for today. It was a bit last minute but thankfully my boss was cool with it. So we slept in a bit (8am indulgent or what) and then got up slowly and had a very relaxing day together.

Well it's had a very positive effect on me (and I hope on my wife too). I'm still tired but I'm not exhausted any more. And when I got to the keyboard this evening words came a lot easier. So much so I have written four scenes tonight for 2.4K. That's more like it.

Anyway I'm going to make a start on another scene. I'm not likely to finish it before my wife it back but I can make a start. I'll finish it tomorrow.

Wonderfully indulgent

This was such a good idea. I know that there were only two days left to the weekend and I could have saved my holiday but waking up gently, reading a book for a while, scribbling down notes for the opening scene of the next book I intend to write (subject to change obviously), and generally doing nothing arduous has been a great way of starting this particular Thursday.

Oh, somewhere in there I even found time to upgrade the iOS on my phone, check my email (no rejections or acceptances today), answer some tweets, check the news headlines and make my wife a coffee.

Listing all that doesn't make it sound like a quiet start but it was perfect for me.

My wife is in the middle of show week - performances of Aladdin every night with an additional matinee on Saturday and hence out all the time. So it's also good to actually get some time spent with her. I did marry her for a reason after all.

I'm hoping it will recharge the writing brain cells some too, the last couple of nights have been a drag. It's taken so much more effort to write than normal and I never want this to feel a chore. This is my escapism.

I think it's working. I'm taking the fact this morning was the first time since Saturday when I've scribbled down notes on the next story as proof the brain is happier. Fingers crossed when I hit the keyboard later I'll be able to get back with the program and get this plot moving. The next couple of scenes will get the main part of the story going.

My mother in law always tells me I would miss working if I could retire early. She tells me retirement is boring. I'd like to think I would find enough to occupy my time creating stories for it not to be.

In any case it would be cool to give it a go but the realities of paying a mortgage would soon kick in. Like most of us I have to work and this isn't going to change any time soon - unless a certain Mr Spielberg happens across one of my novels and decides it would make a cool film. So far nothing; I'm still waiting.

But for one day at least I'm going to live the dream.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Tiredness, oh no

During any of these show weeks my wife plays I expect a certain degree of tiredness. After all our regular hours are disrupted. She tends to get in around midnight buzzing. It takes a little time to wind down which means we don't go to bed all that early. not a fun thing when the alarm goes off at 6:45am.

In the past we've been tired (my wife more than me as she's the one spending all evening blowing into saxophones after all) but we've gotten through it.

This year is a little different. We're both feeling it. It could be because we are both a little older - I turned 48 at the start of the year after all. But I'm placing money on the fact that it's only about a week since I finally threw off the flu (my wife did so just a few days before). We were both tired before this insanity started.

Last night I tried my hand at writing and, after a slow start, managed three new scenes in the novel. Tonight it's been even harder. I have stuck with it and the novel has so far grown by one scene of 687 words. Not much but it's a start. It's taken the novel over 24,000 words too so even if I don't manage any more my average will remain over 2,000 words a day. It is still only day twelve of writing so that is good.

I am going to try to add another in a few minutes. I'm probably going to head into the library first to root out another old sf cover or two and post to my tumblr feed. If you want to see some cool old science fiction book covers the link is below

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Reacting to criticism

Before I start I should point out the criticism in question was not harshly meant. Quite the opposite because this morning I received an email containing a rejection of my weird novella the Intersection that contained some feedback. And before you moan - I am very grateful to receive anything more than a form email. I am happy that the lady who replied had taken more time out of her undoubtedly busy day than was absolutely necessary to reply to me.

However the downside has been its effect on my writing. You see I've started to overthink things and do double takes on the writing. Normally when I'm writing a first draft I just thunder it out. Type and type and type and type; I can fix it up in revision. Well today I'm rereading almost as soon as I finish each sentence and then I'm changing them. I shouldn't. I know this. But I still am. As a result I am barely halfway to my current daily goal of 2,000 words.

Yes, I'm neurotic. And yes I over analyse. And no, I don't think I will ever chance my core personality. The time for managing that is far, far behind me. So what I have to do is manage my own particular peculiarities. And hope that the days when I wind myself up like a kipper (make of that metaphor what you will) are low in number.

Well, one thing I know I have to do is not procrastinate. And blogging is procrastinating; at least partially. So I'm going to head back to the current WiP shortly and hope to add one more section before sleep claims me.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Dress rehearsal night (this is a writing post)

I thought I'd better put the clarification in the title of this blog posting. You see I am not at a dress rehearsal. Such things do not feature in my life. They do however, feature in my wife's. She's off every evening this week at the pantomime.

As I have mentioned before, she's the musical director for a local panto. It opens tomorrow night. It means I will see pretty much nothing of her this week. She leaves each night before I get home. We coincide briefly in the mornings as we get ready for work, then last thing at night. It's just as well I have a photo of her next to my computer. (Yeah, I know - sentimental.)

I am intent on taking full advantage of all the free time this will give me by writing as much as my fingers will let me. (And the brain I guess. It's got to think all this up.)

So tonight I have made a good start on this mad writing week. I finished off chapter six of the YA Paranormal novel I'm writing adding 2,247 words. It brings the book up to 21,674; not a bad word count for 10 days writing. Yeah, I only started this story on the 6th. I'm averaging 2,167 words a day in that time - despite having a day job that keeps me away from the story for most of each weekday.

It does make me wonder why I didn't pick this story for my NaNoWriMo effort. It is a lot easier to write than the bawdy scifi I tried in November. That was a constant struggle to invent the next euphemism. Trust me it's difficult to keep being original. There are only so many ways of being rude without swearing.

Anyway - that's all to report tonight. I've not done much else since I left the office - unless you really want to hear about my filling the car up with diesel or cooking food (it was pasta again - I always cook pasta). I'm off now to back up tonight's writing

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Quick update

Today has been a day of two distinct halves. As it is the last day before my wife's pantomime starts we had a very slow start to the day. I'm not going to see all that much of her for the next few days so wanted to make the most of this morning.

We read books, watched some YouTube videos plus an episode or Scandinavian drama Jordskot and then the Italy versus England rugby match. Thankfully England decided not to spoil the party by losing. But as soon as it was over my wife was off out. Today was the final run through and the first in the actual venue. Tomorrow night will be the dress rehearsal and then the show starts on Tuesday. It runs every evening until Saturday (and on Saturday there will be a matinee as well). So she is booked up until next Sunday.

Of course next Sunday will be a bit of a no show in some respects too. The day after show week, when the adrenaline wears off, usually sees her sleep for twelve hours or more.

It does mean I will have a lot of writing time this week. I'm going to see if I can maintain my writing average on this new book. This afternoon and evening has seen me considerably above my 2K daily average. I'm on 3,084 words. Not quite as high as yesterday's 3,856 but still good. I might get a chance to add another scene once I've finished this blog entry; not sure when my wife is due back from the rehearsal.

So I shouldn't spend too much time on the blog I guess. With that in mind - toodle pip.

Getting older - what young people don't know

When you are younger you hear a lot of things from older people about getting old. Now before I really start I'm not going to go off on one about how young people know nothing. For one thing it's not true. They know a lot more about their world and culture than anyone my age and they shouldn't be worrying about a lot of what older people might lecture them on anyway.

I know it's tempting to criticise the young; say their music is rubbish for instance. I heard enough of that back in the 80s when I was a teenager even though what I was listening to was mainly from 1967-1974 in date. The people saying it to me often didn't check my tastes before launching their diatribe.

What I find odd is that getting older sneaks up on you. It's insidious and you don't realise it's happening. And I'm not just on about aches and pains. Although on that topic ask any 50 year oldwho played rugby as a kid how their knees feel at 3:30am when their body wakes them up for the inevitable middle of the night pee. Yes young people, this awaits you.

Aches aside there are some subtle changes about aging I found strange. My tastes have developed for one and my attitude towards them softened. When I was a teenager there were certain types of music or song I felt I couldn't admit to liking as they were outside my zone. Pass 40 and you realise there's not enough life left to enter yourself pleasures of any kind.

The development part is more subtle. I like heavy metal. I like progressive rock. I like psychedelia. I like jazz-rock, fusion, Krautrock, golf, and I could go on. I still do. But I find that the flavour of each of these that I play more than others now has shifted. And much to the annoyance of my mother, if she was still alive, it's not shifted towards the more gentle and melodic. In many cases I go for the more complex rhythms and arrangements than I used to.

Reading too has changed. I was a short story junkie. I loved the old fiction magazines like Amazing Fantasy, Astounding/Analog and Interzone. If I read fiction now it's novellas and longer. You notice the if there. Another shift - I read mostly non-fiction these days with a particular liking for history of science.

Back to the body; I've already mentioned the fact that you can kiss goodbye uninterrupted nights of sleep. But there are other changes. I used to be a caffeine addict. I drank lots of it. A couple of years ago my body rebelled. These days it's mainly water although I do let myself have some caffeine now just nowhere near earlier levels.

Food too is affected. Like all kids I ate chocolate whenever I could. Now I actually dislike the taste. The kid version of me hated cabbage and mustard; the adult is a fan.

And your mind changes too . I remember in great detail the novels I read as a teenager. I can list characters, quote bits of dialogue and recite the plot in detail of boons like Dune first read three decades ago. Ask me about the book I read over Christmas, less than two months ago. And it's a different story. I know I enjoyed the book but don't ask me to write a synopsis.

And then there's attitudes. They change,  I touched on this with regards allowing yourself to like any music but it goes deeper. The things you care about change. Now some of this is inevitable. After all you can't care about your house and the mortgage if you don't have them yet.

But I found I started to care more about the long term the less of it I had left. My plans and thoughts now are in months and years, not days and weeks. A preferred Saturday night is watching films or TV shows with the family not going out. And one of the best parts of a holiday is that first night'so sleep back in your own bed. The only problem with that is you then have to go back to work - even if you like your job that first drive back in after being off is not a pleasurable experience.

My in laws often say I'd miss working if I didn't have to. They tell me I'd get bored. I'd like to think I would find ways to occupy my time - writing novels for instance. I know I wouldn't mind giving it a try.

I could go on. There are a hundred ways and more life has changed between my teens and my fifth decade that no one warned me of but there's no point. Because most of what I've noticed will be different for you. And the point of this wasn't to lecture anyway. Teenagers should be reckless, take risks and not worry about consequences, and generally gave a good time. They still bounce within reason.

This is just observation. I'm jealous of the youthfulness of the young. I miss mine. My lifegoals now revolve around boring things like paying off the mortgage as soon as possible. And being a mad music fan I miss the time of exploration that was my teens. I heard so much for the first time back then. I still love listening to music and have music on far more often that the TV but I've heard it all before. It's been years since the last time I founc new to me artist with s back catalogue I could devour.

Now I'm not going to leave you on a sour note. That would be fair. There's a lot about life I enjoy. And I've learned to enjoy things whenever I can. Take pleasure where you find it and all that. Trust me it can work.

Getting older isn't bad. For one thing it's better than the alternative. And there are still lots of new experiences to be had - they just won't involve parachutes and abseiling any more- not that they ever did for me.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

A busy Saturday writing wise

My wife is the musical director of a local pantomime. Show week is next week. As a result she's been very busy for the past few days. This has meant me keeping out of her way so she can finish the arrangements of a few pieces and get some practice in. Or to put it another way I've had plenty of opportunity to write this week. I guess it was just as well that I had a new writing project to get on with.

Well it has been a productive day (and week). So far today I have written 3,856 words. It's been my most productive day of the year so far. Looking back at my writing diary (yes I'm sad enough to record this kind of thing) it's the best since the 21st December last year. That day my wife was away playing a gig so I was home alone. I do kind of try to do the bulk of my writing when she's not in.

So I have now been writing my new YA Supernatural story for eight days. It is currently at 16,056 words. Or to put it another way I am averaging more than 2,000 words a day. not a bad average. If I keep that rate up I'll have the first draft done in a month. Thinking back it probably helped having Friday afternoon off work and not having any workmen around. That was 1,928 unexpected words.

Of course it's not likely to stay at that kind of output. I need to spend more time doing submissions. Even given last night's efforts my bawdy sci-fi novel has only gone out 14 times. I need to find it several more potential homes. Someone told me the average success rate is something like 1 in 2000 for these submissions. Now I would like to think my fiction is a little above average in terms of quality (who wouldn't) when it comes to these speculative submissions.

Fortunately I don't think I'm deluding myself too much as one or two of the agents and publishers I've sent my work into have given me positive feedback and I've had seven requests for a full manuscript - even if one of them still resulted in a rejection and a couple of the others were so long ago I consider them both dead.

And on top of the submissions I still have the matter of the third Ben Williamson novella. That needs to be revised and then I will need to put together a synopsis and new covering letter and then start trying to find that one a home. All of which will eat into writing time. This would be a lot easier to manage time wise if I didn't need to have a day job to do all the boring stuff like pay the mortgage.

So I think it will take longer than my current average suggests.

That said though, this coming week is my wife's show week. She will be out tomorrow afternoon and evening at a technical rehearsal. Monday is dress rehearsal and Tuesday through Saturday is show time. I won't see much of her until next Sunday - and then she's likely to be asleep all day. She usually is once the adrenaline wears off.

Here's hoping I will make a lot of progress. Of course I am probably jinxing everything.

My brain and focus

I sat down at my desk this morning to get on with my YA Supernatural novel. My surprise writing session of yesterday afternoon had kicked things on nicely and I wanted to keep the momentum going.

I do my usual prewriting routine; select the first music of the day (Pete Townshend's White City) and read the news headline son the BBC News website. The problem is one of the stories got me thinking. The result of that thinking saw me do a little research and then spend nearly an hour scribbling down notes for another novel idea. And it's an idea that excites me.

So I have two problems. I now have to try to get my focus back to the current novel and then I will have to work out in future whether I should write this new idea next. Heck, managing to get to the end of the current novel without heading sideways into this new idea is going to be tricky enough. Being sensible enough to pick the idea that gives me the best chance to see a book published is going to be next to impossible.

You see I am trying to go by the advice I received from the agent I mentioned in a previous blog entry about what might sell. And from what she said, much as this new idea is one that if I'd seen it as the blurb on the back of a book in Waterstones I would have had no choice but to buy it, there might not be a big market for it.

It's a fairly out there science fiction idea. In my many long years of reading science fiction, watching science fiction and reading about science fiction I've not come across anything too close to it. (Yes I'm sure if I detailed the plot someone would reply with 'Have you forgotten about X?)

But originality is no guarantee of it selling. And I am in this to try to sell a book after all, so writing in a genre that gives me less of a chance of achieving it is not a good idea really. So I pick what is best to write and go for it.

Now don't think for a minute I am going to head off to a totally different genre to my personal reading taste. I don't think that would be possible. I couldn't write a romance novel for instance. I just don't have it in me. I don't have a problem with anyone who write them. I don't have a problem with anyone who reads them. They are writing/reading after all. I'm just not one of them. Give me a space ship, a wizard on some fantastical quest or a demon trying to rip out everyone's guts any day.

But within the genres I know I am starting to get an idea of what might give me the best chance of selling a story. So I am picking and choosing from the ideas I get on the basis of completeness of idea (I like at least knowing the ending myself when I type the first line), personal interest (I've got to like the story as it will take me longer to write it than for you to read it) and whether I might be able to get a deal with it. The first two are marginally more important but these days I feel I need a tick in all three before going for it. Hence the current WiP.

Logic like that doesn't help though, when the idea I have threatens to take over my every waking thought. Hopefully writing it all down in another notebook - yeah I gave it its own book right form the off - will allow me to get back to reality.

Let's see

Friday, 12 February 2016

Friday Fun and Shenanigans

I had this afternoon off work. I was waiting in for some workmen who in the end were unable to make it. Am I upset by this. To be honest no. You see last week and the start of this I had flu and did the silly thing of not taking time off work for it. I didn't go into the office as I didn't want to pass on the virus to anyone else - especially one colleague who was going away for the weekend to celebrate her birthday.

My job allows me to work from home from time to time so that's what I did. I stayed wrapped up warm and worked form my home office. Thing is I'm beginning to think that was a very silly idea. You see I feel exhausted; totally out of energy.

So when I found out I was home for no real reason and had "wasted" half a day of my holiday entitlement did I feel aggrieved? Not in the least. I could relax and try to rebuild a little of that energy that has been lacking in me over the last few days.

Of course that's exactly what I did; for about fifteen minutes. Then I started to feel bored. Cue a trip to my home office and my latest novel. I thought I might be able to get a couple of thousand words in before my wife got back form work.

I didn't manage it. I came pretty close though, 1,928 words. I wrote three scenes, completing chapter three and making a good start on chapter four. The novel is now up to 12,200 words; not a bad effort for seven days of writing. I'll take that for a start. I think this book is going to end up somewhere around the 80K mark so I guess this means I'm about 15% done.

Yeah, I'm a numbers nerd. What can I say. But if you've read some of the earlier postings in this blog you'll already know this. I have an obsession with numbers. I guess having studied Mathematics at University it's not a shocker.

Anyway if you aren't a numbers fetishist like me, you'll be pleased to know I'm going to stop for the rest of this posting. Of course I'm pretty much done with the entry so if you want the wordy stuff there's precious little of any interest or relevance to come. Just a bit about submissions.

You see I am thinking it's about time I get around to revising the 3rd Ben Williamson novella - the one I may have mentioned before but have been cagey about the name. I tried to give it a go last night. I headed for my wife's office (yes we both have a home office - it's one of the benefits of not having children). And the why of popping there is I don't have a printer in my office. I used to - it's now in my wife's office.

So I connected the flash drive to her computer, loaded the file and hit print. And there was no ink. Fortunately I am paranoid enough to print in small batches so I only wasted five pieces of paper. So that will have to wait until more ink arrives.

I do have the bawdy sci-fi novel No Man's Land though; all fully revised. I have sent out some submissions for it already - about ten days ago; just before I got stuck in this new YA Paranormal novel. Since then I've headed straight for writing new fiction rather than handling the other stuff of writing.

Well today I received my first rejection for No Man's Land. It's in good company - all my novels and novellas have rejections aplenty. No doubt this one will join them. And in truth I suspect this is one novel that's going to be pretty hard to place. The humour in it is just a little bit adult in flavour - a smidge you might say. Chances of someone thinking it could be commercial aren't all that high in head. Still unless I start sending more submissions out there it's chances of finding acceptance are even lower.

So wish me luck...

Short writing update

I'm maintaining my recent momentum with the writing. This evening saw my latest novel grow to 10,272 words; an increase of more the 1,500 words. Chapter 3 is one scene (partly written) from done and the spooky stuff has most definitely started.

I've got a pretty good idea of how to get to the next milestone point in the plot too so am hopeful about progress for the next week or so. It's just as well as my wife is going to be a little busy for the next week so I will have time on my hands. Having a writing project to keep me interested is just what I needed.

The only problem is I read the news article about Gravity waves. I am a science junkie. Nothing gives me more pleasure than reading about cutting edge science. (Well okay some things do but that's not in the scope of this blog.)

So having read several accounts of the latest experiments I have this urge within me to write more science fiction - even an idea which features gravity. I am resisting. Partly this is because I have a WiP that is a YA supernatural and partly because the advice email I received from an agent who sent more than just a form letter told me SF was a tough sell at the moment.

Hence concentrating on the spooky for a bit and intending to get back to the scret societies story next. Of course this could all change. There is the (outside; very outside) chance that one of the submissions I have out there might be successful. I might have to drop everything to write a book two for instance.

But assuming not I will finish this spooky YA by the end of next month (and hopefully sooner) and then gave another book to fire off to agents and publishers. never know

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Surprise writing

Doing any writing tonight was something I never expected this morning. There two reasons. Firstly Wednesday this week my wife was going to be in. A rare thing these days as it's just a few days until opening night of the pantomime. And secondly this morning I felt terrible; my sinuses were blocked and I thought I was getting a migraine.

Well things change. My wife had some last minute arrangng to do so needed some peace and quiet and this evening I bent down to pick something up from a bottom shelf only to have a stream of pinkish gunk pour out of my nose. It wasn't a pleasant experience but as soon as it had gone so was all the pressure in my head. Minutes later my headache followed it.

Which meant not only did I have writing time but I was up to making the most of it. So The Staies Lead Down has grown by two more scenes and chapter 3 is but one short section from done.

Then it will get exciting because chapter four is where the real spooky starts. Hopefully tomorrow night I can start in on all of that. So far it's just been hints.

Okay so the stats. Tonight saw something in the region of 1350 words added. I don't know for sure as I'm tapping this into my iPhone and the word counts are logged on my Apache downstairs. The novel count I do know. It's up to 8,699 words. 10k is a possibility tomorrow. And then the weekend will follow.

Anyway that's all for tonight. My sinuses may be less painful than earlier but I'm still suffering from the tiredness their being blocked through last night interrupting my sleep caused. Time to relax and then sleep

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Never afraid to offer an opinion

It's a bit of an odd blog post title this one. I'm not intending to just post lots of my opinions. I have them and I'm not afraid to share but that's not the point of this entry.  It's more of a comment on the Internet.

It's not going to come as a surprise to anyone I'm sure if I mention the fact that the Internet has become a place where people feel more than comfortable expressing their opinion, no matter how batshit it is. Anything at all happens and you'll quickly see thousands of postings in favour of opposed.

And you know what, I think this is a healthy thing; for the most part. It's the ultimate expression of free will and free speech. But there is a line and a lot of people do cross it. There's much on the net that's offensive; much intentionally. This isn't good but I wouldn't curtail the freedom of someone to be offensive; as long as what they post isn't actually illegal.

After all I can choose to read or view something if I want and I can choose to not read or view something. I have total power in that respect. Now I know there are many who are taken in by material on the net. Unfortunately over the last few years words like grooming and radicalised have featured often on the news and the Internet has taken a lot of flack but it shouldn't.

Yes these are crimes but it isn't the Internet committing them: it's people. But these crimes are not what I intended to discuss in this posting. That's far too big a topic for an aside. I want to limit myself to matters of opinion online.

You see the thing that triggered this though was the new X-Files series. I've seen so many mentions of it from the moment it was announced right up to the broadcast of the first episode. And I've seen pretty much the full spectrum of responses from total vitriol to gushing devotion; and all before a single episode had aired.

I'm sure there have been countless more now broadcast has started. It's just I've been avoiding them. You see until this evening I'd not had chance to watch and was fearful of someone posting details. I like the surprise of finding out for myself.

That made it difficult - several of the sites I like visiting would no doubt have lots of content about it. I had to be careful on Twitter; staying away from the main feed. But this is really just another aside. It's a minor issue.

The main one for me is one of information overload. The Internet is thankfully, for the most part, unregulated. (And don't tell me I'm delusional. For the purpose of this posting it is. I'm not here to discuss paranoid big brother theories.)

This means it can be difficult to wade through all the nonsense to find something useful or relevant. For every fact I'm sure there are a hundred suppositions. And before you think I'm going to mention religion you can stop it. I don't want to get into controversial waters. I'm limitng myself to the inconsequential.

The Internet is a revolution. But it's also a trap. It can trap you into an endless cycle of cute kitten videos and it can trap you into reading/watching/listening to endless arguments. You need to treat the Internet a little like that strange old uncle you had as a kid. Not because he's a bit seedy; I'm not on about THAT uncle. It's because only 10% of what he said wasn't bullshit. Only on the Internet when it comes to opinion 10% might be optimistic.

I still think the Internet is a great thing. It's a power for good(on average). But remember don't take anyone's opinion as truth. Unless it's mine of course; you'd be okay if it was mine.

Writing habits

I have developed writing habits. I have to admit it. I suppose the main one is music. I have to have music on when I'm writing. I can't do it in silence. I have to have music. Of course this has led onto a writing habit I find truly odd in me.

I am not a superstitious man. Ghosts do not exist. Luck is random and cannot be affected. I might not walk under ladders but I do it because it risks things falling from whomever might be at their top. That and if someone is on them I am risking knocking them off.

But I have developed something akin to a superstition with my writing music. If I leave the room for any reason while writing, the music must be changed when I come back - even if I was only on track one. I just can't force myself to put the CD back on. It's okay if I'm doing anything else, even if that something else is writing related - say submitting. But if I'm writing new fiction the music would be changed.

I did it a few minutes ago. I headed to the kitchen to get another drink. The album that was playing was a good one - Queen's Innuendo. I was enjoying it. but it fell foul of the room leaving rule. I got back; it came out of the CD player and now I am listening to Metallica's Master of Puppets.

There are others. For one thing I write in a room with the doors closed. This might be partly so the music I am listening to doesn't annoy the other people I like with but I do this if I'm alone in the house. I like the enclosed space of my office.

Unlike many other writers I've spoken to I also do this thing with all the social media apps/sites open and ready to distract me. I tweet regularly as I write - mostly about the writing progress I know (and to announce the writing music) but also if I have a momentary stop in the writing, if one section gets a bit sticky, I will head to the feed and read a few; respond to some. Strange I know but it works for me.

And I'm sure I'll develop more the more I write. I will keep you posted.

Anyway - to tonight's writing; I have added 2,240 words to my YA Supernatural Novel The Stairs Lead Down. Chapter two is finished, chapter 3 is one scene long. By the end of it I will be starting to do more than just hint of spookiness.

I'm up to 7,348 words now. Not bad for four days; an average of over 1,800 words a day. Let's see if I can keep that up.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Don't tell me what happened on X-Files

Tonight was an unexpected writing evening. I hadn't expected to even open the word doc but my wife had to do a last minute arrangement of some music for the pantomime. This is something that really isn't a spectator sport so I headed for my office and decided to see how much of the YA ghost story I could write before she'd finished.

Quite a bit it seems; I had enough time to write the first 2 scenes of chapter 2 - 1613 words in all. Good use of time I think. It's moved it beyond 5,000 words. I'm happy with the progress I'm making on it. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it going.

Tomorrow night I will find out. My wife is out playing the music she's just written and so I'll be home alone. With any luck nothing will get in the way of adding some more to the total. I'm hoping to have chapter 2 finished - only need to repeat tonight's output for that.

Of course tonight's writing did come with a price. I didn't get to see the first episode of the new X-Files. I will have to wait until tomorrow. We usually have time for one episode before my wife heads to rehearsal.

I didn't go without genre TV completely tonight though. Over dinner we caught up on last night's Agents of SHIELD, it was the solo Simmons episode. Now that was a good episode. This series is getting better all the time. I'm hoping it runs for years to come.

Anyway, off now to fill in the outline for the next parts of WiP, the Stairs Lead Down. I thnk it's going well. My wife has read it so far and thinks it's good but she mght be biased. I think it's good too but I definitely am. We'll see how it does when it's done and other people read it.

Wishful thinking

I have a number of submissions out there with various agents and publishers. In theory any one of them could end up with my being published. Not likely I know but it is possible. So I will have to admit I have started in on the wishful thinking front.

You see there is a confession I have to make and it involves TV shows. It's no great surprise to hear me tell you I like sffh TV shows. I've blogged about them before after all. But I've not mentioned yet that I don't mind tie in novels. Over the years I've read plenty of them. I used to review them too.

I've read Buffy books, Angel books, Star Trek books, and so on. I could list more and yes, I'm going to. So you can add Stargate, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Highlander, Babylon 5, Quantum Leap, and more recent shows like Grimm to the list.

Wel if I did get published and did have an agent you can bet I would be checking out the chances of writing such a tie in novel. Ideas for several of these have occurred to me over the years. I even have a notebook dedicated to just this kind of story idea. Btw the best idea I have at the moment would be for a Grimm book. Hopefully they will still be making the show and putting out tie in novels should I ever get a deal.

You'll notice one thing. In the list above I never mentioned Star Wars. Yeah, confession time - I've never been a fan. The films are okay (the first three). I can't comment on the latest - I've not seen it. I'll put the right when it hits DVD.

But tie in novels for anything else would be cool. Fingers crossed I get the chance.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Back writing

Well after a week and more of not writing due to having flu I took the plunge yesterday and wrote the first scene of a new novel that is currently called The Stairs Lead Down. Well today I carried on with it and the first chapter is now finished and totals 3,495 words. Today's effort chipped in with 2,778 of them. Not  bad day - especially as I had a few other things to take care of before I could start typing.

Now I've explained the logic of leaving the fourth Ben Williamson and choosing to write this story before - in the first posting of the day. It kind of makes sense to me. After all when you get advice from an agent and a publisher that seems to tally up it makes sense to follow it. I just hope I've chosen the right option of the two that fitted.

Mind you even if it doesn't I am currently intending to go straight into the other story - the 15th Century Venice tale as soon as this version is done to first draft (although I will admit I might head back to the fourth BW novella and finish it off - it is halfway to its 30K after all so it wouldn't take long).

So I have a plan. Now all I have to do is follow it.

That sounds so simple but inevitably there will be times when I want to go write something else. Ideas don't stop popping into my head just because I have a current WiP.

I'm not alone in this I know. One of my writing friends (a recent acquaintance made through twitter) called Melissa Elledge has the same issue as me. (I'm posting links to her blog and twitter account at the bottom of this blog posting.)

Knowing that you share a problem with someone else though, doesn't make it go away. All that I can do for that is try to up the resolve factor. I will overcome my basic flighty writing nature and concentrate on just the one story. (I WILL!)

It's obvious that I have it within me to achieve this. I have after all written four novels and three novellas. I got to the end of each of them somehow, even given my predilection to wander between projects.

And in any case I think I might be able to get through this YA ghost story relatively quickly. It think it's going to clock in at about 80K words. With 3.5K already done I can claim to be approaching 5%. Add in the fact that my wife is playing in a pantomime (saxophones and musical director) later this month and she'll be out a lot giving me ample time to write. I'm hoping that I will be able to average about 1.5K words per day. That should mean I'm approaching halfway by the end of the month. I all goes well maybe I'll be beyond that.

Of course I've made these plans before only to see them crash and my ears. I guess the best way of viewing this is we will see what we will see.

But I am not going to write anything more tonight. Sunday nights are those times when I unfortunately have to do all the preparation for another week at work - like ironing shirts. How I love ironing. I know one thing; if I ever get rich from writing (not going to happen I know) I will be getting someone else to do the ironing.

Anyway - report is pretty much done. I'm heading off now to relax for a while and maybe watch some TV with my wife. I need to spend some quality time with her - it is what keeps me sane after all.

Melissa Elledge's blog

Melissa Elledge's twitter feed

A new novel

I've been mentioning over the past few days the fact that once my head improved I needed to start a new novel. I've also mentioned what I thought would be the most likely candidate - a YA Fantasy set in a version of 15th Century Venice. Well as you no doubt know if you've read many of my blog entries these things often change.

You see, I had a conversation with the one person I trust more than anyone else on the planet (my wife).she read through the emails I'd received from publishers and agents (the wonderfully kind ones who had sent more than just a form email) and her advice was the YA supernatural novel I've know called The Stairs Lead Down was more likely to appeal to people than the Venice story.

The reason is if it's aimed at YAs they're more likely to get a ghost story set now than a magickal take set more than 500 years ago. That's a good enough reason for me. So yesterday, in the tiny amount of time I had available I made a start.

I'm pleased to report that the flu I've been suffering from had departed enough that my brain appeared up to the task and the first scene of chapter one was written. The novel is currently 717 words long.

I'm going to admit one thing. I have not got this as plotted as I'd like before starting so I don't many chapters or words it's going to be once finished yet. I have the first few chapters down in my notebook. I have a rough outline and I know the ending. I even have a couple of key moments the book needs to pass through on the way but right now there are a couple.of fuzzy bits. I'll have them sorted before I get there though, so all is good.

Hopefully if I can maintain a good writing pace I'll have the first draft either finished or near finished by th start of April. That might sound optimistic but what's the point in setting unambitious targets?

It does of course mean the fourth Ben Williamson novella is on hold, but I can always pick that up when this first draft of The Stairs is done. And in the meantime I still have the third BW novella to revise and start subbing around.

I'm feeling a little enthused about writing again. Hopefully I can keep it going.

Friday, 5 February 2016

A new European Deal

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a supporter of the EU. In my opinion we (the UK) are just too tiny to compete on the world stage and we're only getting smaller in comparison to other nations. We have this inflated impression of how important Britain is. We're just not.

Over the last few days and weeks there have been some scary (in my opinion) reports about the new European deal and the reaction of the UK public. The anti-EU mood seems to be growing. It scares me.

It actually seems likely we will be leaving the EU. I don't want that. I can't see the sense in it. Okay I get some of the arguments. We do contribute more to the EU budget than we receive (because we are one of the richer countries) and there are a number of regulations that make some things more difficult but there are many good things about being in the EU.

But I'm not going to go on about what I think is good about being in the EU. If you are in favour of the organisation I don't need to and if you are anti-EU you're not going to listen anyway.

The biggest thing I can see for not going through with this now is uncertainty. The world is still a fragile place economics wise. There are enough risks to the UK economy why would we want to add more? Just because we (and I'm excluding myself from this) are xenophobic and hate Johnny Foreigner?

I find this whole thing really weird. You see most of the Brits I know seem to love Europe - at least when it comes to holidays. How many of us head across the channel when it comes to having fun? How many of us have gone on a stag do or a hen party over to Prague, or Amsterdam, or wherever? And in a liking for European goods (Italian fashions, German cars etc) and a recent growing addiction for Nordic Noir both in book, TV and film form and shouldn't we just admit we like Europe?

I do.

So much so I've taught myself enough French, Italian and Dutch over the years to get by on holidays. Note - I'm not claiming to be fluent in any of these but I can read order food, tickets and the like and say hello to people in their own language.

Quick tip - if you want to ask a Dutch man or woman how they the phrase is

Hoe gaat het?

Of course the pronunciation is a bit different to how a pure English speaker might expect. It's more like

hoo  Hart ut

The capital H for the second word is an indicator of how strong it should be pronounced.

Of course a native Dutch speaker might take exception to how I say it. I can only apologise to the entire Dutch nation for my attempts; just as I extend the same apology to both the French and Italians.

Anyway I'm going off topic again. I was talking about Britain's membership of the EU.

The world of 2016 is unstable. If you doubt it go take a look at what's been happening to the global stock markets over the last few weeks. They've been up and down more than a... (Fill in your own euphemism here). How do you think they are going to react if we pull out of the EU? And in case you think it doesn't matter of course it does. This is all about investment in the UK and that investment brings jobs; yours and mine.

Now I am not saying that if we leave the EU this investment will stop. I'm not saying we'll be worse off. I'm saying I don't know. Most of what I read suggests no one does. That's the uncertainty I fear.  The future is already scary enough without us adding to it.


Wow - I just re-read this posting. I am really feeling that bleak? How come I got so serious?

Sorry about that - I'll get back to talking about my writing next time

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Encouraged by earlier email - submissions update

Well seeing as the brain is still a little fuzzy due to this sodding flu thing (I am having to admit I had flu now - someone I know with the same symptoms has been given this diagnosis) I didn't want the evening to be a total loss writing wise. So I got the agents list out and started emailing in some submissions.

As a result there are now the following new submissions out there

The Patternmaker's Daughter (4)
No Man's Land (2)

Well, the more the merrier I guess.

And I've started to flesh out the plot for the gritty YA fantasy set in late 15th Century Venice that's been in the back of my head for the past few weeks. I'm thinking this is the best next project.

Well that's it. I've blogged twice today already so I scarcely have much else to report.

Toodle pip

Thoughts on writing to order

I had an email today from an agent I'd submitted my science fiction novel Against the Fall of Empire to last year. The email was a rejection but one of the kindest ones I've ever seen. I'm not going to mention her name but I am going to quote from the email. Here's one sentence.

 - I really enjoyed the first three chapters of your novel AGAINST THE FALL OF THE EMPIRE. I thought this was imaginative, well-written, gripping with strong and original characters.

Sounds promising doesn't it? She said something similar (quoting character names about my horror novel (Mr. Stinky) when I submitted that to her earlier. The email (today's) continues by telling me I have chosen to write novels in two of the hardest genres to sell today. Just my luck eh? Well I wrote the ideas that came to me.

The email did contain something that was hopeful. She mentioned that the market is looking for fantasy. Well I might just have a YA fantasy out these in the Patternmaker's Daughter and I might have already sent it in to this agent. (I'd done it last month thinking the sub I'd sent for Against was dead). If she likes my writing and wants fantasy then I guess I have a chance.

Time to be patient.

And while I'm bring patient maybe it is time to rethink my priorities. I have mentioned in a previous blog posting that I don't think I could write something just because I thought it might sell. However what I can do is go through the ideas I have in my notebooks and see what I have in them that might fit the market place. I'm writing to be published after all so why not give myself the best chance.

I know I've mooted this before but I am beginning to think I actually have a chance at this novel writing thing (given some of the comments I've been receiving and the seven requests for a full manuscript now). Maximising it is worth doing, I think.


I am a lifelong devotee of science. I was fascinated by it from a young age, starting with the inevitable dinosaur fixation. Well at some point in the dim and distant past I was a five year old boy so it was a certainty wasn't it?

My top subjects at school were all the expected ones - mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology - in that order. In later life I will say the top two are a little interchangeable. I don't think I could say which I find more interesting today; although I do think they have both far outstripped chemistry and biology as the years have passed.

And yes, I do think that my love of science and science fiction as interlinked. I don't think I could see how it is possible to like one of these without the other. Of course I'm not totally sure what explains why I like horror as much as I do. Perhaps, like many people, I just have an internal bloodthirsty streak. As long as it stays internal there's no problem I guess.

Well today I am continuing my "feel like crap so am watching favourite movies" session of the last few days. And the first choice was one of my all time favourite movies (based on one of my all time favourite books) - Contact.

I was hooked on Carl Sagan when he made Cosmos. I watched every episode of it and read the book. I then read his other popular science books. When he released a science fiction book how could I not read it? Fortunately it was brilliant.

It was also perfect for me. After all it's science fiction about science and scientists. Could they have made this any more targeted at me. Oh yes, they could cast Jodie Foster as the lead actor. That would do it.

How do you follow a film like that? It's difficult. Well I solved it by opting for the Imitation Game. I did say I like mathematics. This is a film about mathematicians, or rather one very special mathematician. It was either this or the Theory of Everything. That may come later.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

I should be asleep

This often happens to me. I'm sitting in the lounge tired, on the verge of falling asleep. I make my way upstairs only to then lie awake listening to my wife sleeping.

It's useful in some ways. I get most of my story ideas in these moments. But it does mean I feel more tired in the morning. Especially as getting the idea is but the first step. I inevitably put the light back on so I can write it down in one of the notebooks. By which time I'll have woke up even more.

Tonight I was determined to not do this. I deliberately didn't do the mind wander thing. Sleep, straightaway, was my intention. My body though hasn't played ball. I'm still awake and tapping in this blog entry on my iPhone. I may as well have let my mind play with story ideas. I might have worked out the next bit in the Venice-ish book. From talking to a couple of people I think this might be the best idea to tackle next. It's a YA urban fantasy story - albeit historic. I'm told there could be a market for it.

Of course, I still need to finish the 4th Ben Williamson novella. If I can get back into it once my head's back in the game there should only be a couple of weeks at most in it - for 1st draft anyway.

Right, I' going to be productive if not sleepy. Time to and this post and think of 15th Century Venice.

Keep it Comfortable and Then Meander

Well I think I will have to admit my cold might have been a little more than just a cold. I should have guessed this when I struggled to do anything other than just lie on the sofa at the weekend. By the way, the sofa isn't the comfortable thing of this blog entry's header. In truth the sofa is not all the comfortable to lie on. It's got all the lumber support someone like me (over two metres is the bit I'm angling for in this explanation) needs to sit down but doesn't do well if you want to lie on it.

The comfortable bit I'm on about is TV viewing. I may have mentioned already that I haven't been writing these past few days. Well I have to do something and I don't just like to veg in front of whatever crap happens to be on TV. I pick what I watch. And at times like this I like to pick things I've seen before - preferably many times before.

So in the last couple of days I've put the following DVDs into the player
 - Life of Brian
 - Love Actually
 - Groundhog Day
 - Starship Troopers
 - About Time
 - Highlander

There might have been an episode or two of Doctor Who in there too. I think all I'm missing is a quick viewing of Die Hard and then maybe Bicentennial Man. There's still time.

These are the kinds of films that can act like a security blanket. They just make you (or in this case, me) feel better. So why shouldn't I indulge myself. After all we only live once and it's not for all that long a time. So the rule is enjoy it and don't be afraid of what people think.

I wish I'd realised that last bit before I hit forty. You see there are a number of films I like and bands I like that don't go with the rugged macho image I've wanted to portray all these years (yes, I'm kidding - I've never cared about that kind of thing). I now allow myself to enjoy them and to hell with what people think. I don't have enough life left to worry about what people think. I don't think I ever did; I just didn't realise it back then.

Mind you I would like to point one thing out. I do have impeccable taste in music. I know it's only my opinion but I'm going to pretend it's a fact. I like music I find challenging - try listening to King Crimson or Tom Waits and you'll know what I mean. I like music that isn't ordinary. I like music that makes me think the writers/performers were in love with their craft as they were creating it.

In short I don't like write to the numbers music; which is how I feel much of pop music for the past two decades has been. I want to feel the artist still cared about the music as something other than a route to a lucrative pay cheque.

Anyway - this was a blog post about comfort viewing - how did I get onto challenging music? Simple answer really; I meandered. Just think this; if I meandered that easy when talking about films that make you feel happy even when you are ill just imagine how difficult it is for me to keep concentrated on writing just one story at a time. My brain just keeps inventing. It's why I keep all the notebooks. And why I find it difficult to decide on the next project when one finishes. Somehow I manage.

Fun though it's been watching all these favourite movies I just hope that this cold disappears quickly now so I can get on with my writing.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Novel is out there

My cold is still hanging around. I feel as though someone (and if I find them I will make them pay) has filled the empty space between my ears with cotton wool. It's kind of tricky to get thought through all the goo.

As such it's been another evening of no writing - other than fixing the typos my wife found in the previous section (written last week).

So I wasn't going to just sit in front of the TV and vegetate. I'm not the greatest fan of doing that. Okay I like watching TV but only when there's a show I want to watch. As my wife was out (and all the shows I'm watching at the moment so is she) I didn't have much to choose from and besides it would still have felt a little wasteful.

So I opted for an evening of submissions. Out came my trusty novel submissions diary (or excel file if you want to be accurate) and I started searching for literary agents who might accept bawdy sci-fi. Well after a couple of hours of searching and reading submission guideline pages I have six new submissions for No Man's Land out there. This brings the total to eight submissions for my latest completed novel. I dare say they will not be the last this week.

And as a special bonus I found a couple more places to try the YA Fantasy novel the Patternmaker's Daughter so there are two more out there for that novel - makes up for the couple of rejections it received last week.

Which brings me to the latest snippet of news about my writing and it's not good I'm afraid (even if it encouraging).

I received a rejection for Mr. Stinky this evening which included the phrase (and this is copy & pasted from the email)

"The writing is engaging and tight, and I am sure you'll find an audience for it."

The rejection gave the reason of their intention to stick with a more YA audience than my horror novel would require. So I have emailed back asking whether they might consider the Patternmaker's Daughter. It's definitely spot on with the YA part but it's high fantasy and I think they want more urban fantasy/paranormal. It doesn't hurt to ask I guess.

Anyway, here's hoping my head sorts its befuddledness out soon - I want to get back to writing.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Another Rejection

I've received a number of rejections since starting writing. They come with the territory I guess. But today the one I received was a little different.

You see last year several of the submissions I sent in resulted in publishers or agents requesting the full manuscript. These all gave me a little bit of a boost; gave me hope. Well today, one of these full manuscript requests resulted in a rejection. So the fall back down to Earth has been a little more pronounced in this case.

Now I know that the chance of an acceptance is still small even when a full manuscript is requested is still not great so I'm not surprised at this but I am a little disappointed. I was hopeful.

BTW - before I go any further I should probably say the submission in question was for the weird novella the Intersection. Not sure how relevant it is but I would be remiss for not saying.

Well I am not going to be put off writing by this rejection. I am going to keep going; keep writing, keep submitting and so on. I am determined to make a go of this.

And as if to try my determination on that last point as I was writing this blog entry another rejection has turned up in my inbox - this time for the science fiction novel Against the Fall of Empire. It's been a while since I had a rejection of that one. Ah well.

Must keep trying