Sunday, 30 May 2010

Been writing

Sunday comes and I decide to dedicate a reasonable amount of it to doing some actual writing. It couldn't be all of the day as there was a Grand Prix on and I've regained my interest for Formula 1 in the last year - so three hours of the day was written off. More if you count the fact I have to be sociable with the family for some of the day. Oh, and the fact that part one the adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Gong Postal was on Sky One this evening. So another two hours was booked up.

But I did do some. A review of Tim Waggoner's Dead Streets and finishing a sf short story called The Screen. The story's submitted already - to New Myths, a market I've had considerable success submitting articles and reviews to but not yet sent in a story. Given my lack of success with fiction I'm rather suspecting this might lower my hit rate with this zine but it's worth a try.

Haven't managed to find a home for the review yet. Spent an hour or so researching various possible markets but not sent it anywhere yet. I did find places to submit two other short stories I'd decided were dead submissions as well so it was time well spent. Guess I'll have to work a little harder on finding a new market for the review.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Eventide

I'm going to show my age here - and possibly my terribly taste in music. Heck, I don't care about either. I am what I am, and I like what I like. And to be honest if you disagree with my choices then it's simple. You're wrong - at least from point of view. Well, hey - this is my blog I can be self-centred about it.

Anyway enough rambling I'm here to blog about this evening's procrastination - and I'm already finding something else to type...hmmh

I was reminded of an old band I saw in the 80s this evening - the Icicle Works. I was rather a fan of theirs. So I hit YouTube and went to check out a few vids. I could have just put a CD on - I'm sad enough to have bought them. But I didn't. End result after watching a couple whilst sorting a thing or two out I remembered another 80s band I liked and probably no one who might read this will have even heard of them.

The band's called The Faith Brothers. Now I can't lean over and put one of their CDs on. I don;t have any. Not possible. They've not made it to CD. I've seen their albums (2 studio, 1 rarities/live) are avilable on download but I've not got into this downloads thing. If I buy something music-wise I want to be able to hold it as well as listen to it.

I'm like that with books too. I've read eBooks. I have nothing against them in principle, it's just I can't feel them, see them, smell them. Hell I can't have anything against this format. I've sold many articles, stories and reviews to electronic publications and I actually rather like them.

It's just I like physical things. Things I can hold. All of which leaves me with no Faith Brothers music in my collection. Ah well!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Been writing

My office is almost sauna like. I can't believe it after last week when I was freezing in here (despite it being May) and wearing a jumper to keep warm. Heck at the end of April I actually had to grab a small blanket to put over my knees to stop my legs getting a chill.

Enough griping about the usual fickle nature of English weather. The main point is I've been in this room. And I've not just been procrastinating. I've been writing.

This evening I finished a 2200 word films article for Shroud Magazine. I figured I might have a chance as their last two issues have featured articles of mine on the Saw movies and comedy zombies. Fingers crossed I can make it three in a row.

I was thinking of maybe starting a book review but it's just hit midnight so I might just let it wait until tomorrow. Unfortunately have a fair bit to do for the day job tomorrow (yeah, even though it's Sunday) so I might not get all that much done. I will get a review done but I'm not sure I'll do much on the story I started yesterday. I got all inspired when I saw the review of my short story in Outer Reaches that an idea for another that might fit that publication popped into my head. I just have to shape it into something worth submitting now (or rather tomorrow).

A review (one of mine) goes live

US SF webzine New Myths has just posted another of my reviews - for Sir Patrick Moore's non-fiction book Legends of the Stars. You can find it by visiting their site at

http://www.newmyths.com/

Just click on the section headed "Reviews of books recommended by our authors".

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A review!!!! And it's good

I have to admit one thing. Since I took up writing for payment a little while ago I've wondered at what stage I might get to before I see a review. I thought that maybe I would have to wait until I (if ever) wrote, and had published, a novel. Or maybe if I was lucky if I managed to place a story in a pretty major anthology - something from DAW or the like.

What I didn't expect was for a story of mine featuring in Outer Reaches to get a review. Nothing against the mag. I think it's a well put together publication and I'm more than happy to see my name in it, I just didn't expect to see it reviewed. Well it has been.

Which then leads me to my second issue with the concept of reviewing. I've been writing reviews for more than a decade now. And whereas I can say that the majority of my reviews have been positive - or at least mostly positive - I have read some books I thought were awful. And I've said so in a review. I'm not vindictive. I don't hold grudges. But equally I don't tell lies. If I think a book stinks I'll say so.

So I get reviewed myself. Guess that means I need to steel myself and be prepared to accept whatever is thrown my way. And so I've found the first one - by accident. I was skimming through SFRevu and saw that Outer Reaches issue one had a review link. I clicked it. I was dreading scrolling down to my bit. But I got there and the mention was very positive.

Anyway - I feel obliged (and just a little bit smug) to include a link the review

http://www.sfrevu.com/php/Review-id.php?id=10352

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Actually managed to do some writing

Life's been trying everything to get in the way of me actually writing this year. And before you worry I'm not going to go into the reasons here - although I will say my own instinctive procrastination is part of the cause.

Well today I determined to get on with it and do something. Well ok most of the day wasn't actually spent writing, but trying to find places to send any writing I did do.

And the end result - four reviews written and submitted (all to Murky Depths - I do like seeing my name in that mag so I wanted to give it a good go for their next issue) and one article and another review part done.

In addition to that I got my records up to date and found there were three completed stories not currently under submission anywhere (having been rejected elsewhere). So I got down to it and found them all (potential) homes. I'm not holding out all that much hope from them - my batting average for stories is rather low - but they don;t stand any chance if they're only on my hard drive

Fingers crossed. And I'm going to try to keep it up.

Ronnie James

I've been a fan of heavy metal for - heck most of my life. He sang on some of my favourite albums (Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell and Dio's Holy Diver spring to mind).

I just read of his death from cancer on the BBC News website and I'm saddened. Okay as a heavy metal singer maybe other people had more of an effect on the world but his music made me happy - and I'm sure many others.

It's a sad day.

I've been missing lot of stuff (talking about TV)

I like the way the US makes TV shows. I like the way that they have 20+ episodes a year to develop an idea - providing of course the show makes it that long. Well ok, maybe except for stuff like Dexter with only 13 - still more than most UK shows get for a season.



So recently I finally cottoned on to House - only partway through season six. Then I finally decided to check out Smallville and found it nowhere near as bad as I had feared. I felt it could be a Beverly Hills 90210 with super-powers and, well ok it is a bit, but it does have merit.



Third show I tried (belated) was Lost. The story of Lost, when it was first advertised five years ago, just never appealed. A group of people get stranded on a desert paradise only to find weird stuff. Didn't grab me. But over recent months a number of people I work with convinced me it was worth watching. And fortunately they were right.



And now I've got a fourth. I was in Blockbusters the other day and noticed a TV series box set on sale for five pounds. The series in question was Psych. Well five pounds sounded weird enough to be worth a try. And now I've watched the pilot and second episode and I like it. It's good. And there are another four seasons after this... Nice!

Murky Depths #12

I received my contributor copies of Murky Depths #12 this week. This issue features two of my reviews - for Mike Resnick's Shaka II novella (by PS Publishing) and Gord Rollo's Strange Magic (by Leisure Books).

As with the previous issue this mag has impressed me massively with its high level of production quality. It's such a nice item to hold in your hands. That the content matches the quality of the print is a joy. Jon Courtney Grimwood leads of the issue with a steampunky tale of an alternate twentieth century. Rest of the mag keeps up the standard.

There's a number of fun comic stories in this mag too - include part 4 of Richard Calder's Dead Girls - to add a good variety.

I'm really impressed with this mag - and I'm not just saying that because I'm featured in it.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Manna for the book collector

Saturday is book hunting day. It's my release. I've been a collector since I was a kid and I know there's always a chance that I'll find that next book out there.

Today was one fot hose days. I found an old sf book that really appealed to me - a 1965 paperback of Milton Lesser's Secret of the Black Planet. It has a very typical 1960s cover - man in tight fitting space suit with ray gun looking all Buck Rogers, a woman in a short skirt with the image completed by a typicaly of the period cigar shaped rocket ship.

Yeah, I know that image could also describe a typical 1930s sf magazine cover (for anyone who wants to go look at some there's a lot of them on a UK sf call The Eternal Night - http://www.eternalnight.co.uk/magazine/magazinea.html)

But I like these things as objects and I like finding them. Fortunately for me it's not an expensive hobby - these books aren't worth much, I picked this one up for two pounds. I just like finding them. And you never know, one year I might get a chance to read it.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Another sale - being a good week.

I received word today that my review of Jeff Strand's book Dweller has been accepted by Dark Scibe Magazine. I'm definitely going to have to get some more writing done this weekend.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Another sale - huzzah

I just got word that issue 9 of Shroud Magazine will feature an article of mine called "I Laughed 'Til the Zombies Ate My Brains". It's a summary of comedy zombies movies other than Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, with reviews etc.

Issue 9 should be out sometime soon. You want to check Shroud out go to their website. I'm pleased to say most of their issues have featured something of mine. I missed issue 6 but I think I'm in all the others. I'll have to go get writing an article for submission to issue 10. Wish me luck

Anyway their site is at http://www.shroudmagazine.com/

Go pay a visit, maybe buy an issue or two - or check out their books. I've read a couple of their release - been of a good standard.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Two new sales

Just received word that sf webzine New Myths will be featuring another two of my pieces - 1 book review of Beth Bernobich's Ars Memoriae and an article entitled "Charles Babbage and the Difference Engine"

No idea which issue they will appear in but they should be live later this year. I think the article will even be available as an audio file - wow, eh?

That'll be my second audio file - one of my sf stories got the similar treatment last year.

Grin currently stretching from ear to ear

Estonia's brightened my day

The last few weeks have been just a little hectic - and very, very strange. Two years into this economic downtown, things have been tense. Greece has been going through some tumultuous times - riots resulting from their austerity measures. The Euro as a currency has been under tremendous strain as have relations within the EU over the negotiations to shore everything up.

So in the middle of all this Estonia has been cleared to join the Euro from 2011 - providing all the nations agree which I can't see being a problem. In the middle of a major recession tiny Estonia, with only 1.3 million people, is a success story. It's budget deficit last year was a tiny 1.7% of GDP; government debt a mere 7.2%. The UK's debt is more than 10 times this level.

I'm simply in awe. Well done Estonia!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Two reviews available at Dark Scribe Magazine

Two of my reviews went live at Dark Scribe Magazine (a horror ezine) recently.

You can find their site (specifically their reviews section) at

http://www.darkscribemagazine.com/reviews/

I have another review submitted to them - so fingers crossed

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Election Night UK

I've been fascinated with politics as long as I can remember. I mean it - back when I was a kid and unable to vote I found it interesting. Sad I know, but I can remember the 1974 election (the second one) and I was only six.

I guess you might not think this if you've checked through my blog over recent weeks and seen pretty much nothing about politics whatsoever on it. I've ummed and ahhed about blogging about the campaigning before now - about the news stories, the debates, the LibDem upsurge, the gaffs and so on - but everytime I've started typing I got so far and just stopped.

It somehow seemed pointless. There was so much election stuff already out there what could I add? So why start now? Don't know. It just seemed more right. And before you worry I have absolutely no intention of telling against whose name I placed my vote. These things are supposed to be secret ballots after all.

It's the broadcast itself I feel needs comment. I've watched many of these programmes and they really do try to make it exciting. As I type now they are representing the same exit poll (as they have no actual results yet) in a fifth way - a list of constituencies that they are about to turn blue (to denote a Conservative win).

And now the race is on for the first actual declaration. There's the usual race to be the first constituency to complete the count and announce the result. Bizarre!

Still I guess a long night is awaiting me. I'm going to be tired tomorrow.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

If you like cricket

I picked up a book at the weekend - Simon Hughes' "And God Created Cricket". I have a number of books on my reading pile that I really should read first but it sat there, calling to me. I was helpless, it knew all my weaknesses. Well it's as good as I had hoped it would be.

Simon Hughes has an obvious love of cricket. When combined with his wonderfully acerbic wit it makes for a highly entertaining, if somewhat rambling and irreverent, history of the game.

I recommend it to everyone - well everyone who likes cricket at any rate.