Thursday, 31 December 2015

Very quick blog about novella

I had some time to write this afternoon so made the most of it. Four new sections were added (2,125 words) bringing the novella up to 28,259. It is now moving into the end game of the story. Not much to go at all. I'm guessing two or three thousand words at most.

My hopes of having it done by the end of the day do not seem likely though. I had hoped to get a good amount of writing done this morning. An initially bad night's sleep put paid to that. Still being awake at 3am meant once I did fail asleep getting up and writing by 9am just wasn't an option. Adding in having to go dispose of all the recycling as our collection was scheduled for tomorrow (and so not happening) and I didn't actually get to the keyboard until 3pm.

So the writing slot was two and a half hours. About half what I had hoped. The good news though, is I still have three more days before I have to go back to the office so am keeping my fingers crossed I will finish it comfortably.

And I really must get around to sending in some more submissions. After all what's the point of all this writing if no one ever has the chance to read it.

Talking of reading - one of my test readers is half way through the Patternmaker's Daughter, my YA fantasy, and enjoying it. He's come back with a few comments but no suggested changes yet. We'll see if these materialise when he's finished.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 penultimate writing day

I can't believe it's the 30th already. Six days of my ten off work are gone (okay there is a fair bit of today left but when it's dark already you do start thinking it's done for).

Today has seen a decent amount of writing achieved, if not exceptional. I added 2,502 words to the novella bringing it to 26,134 words in length. So there are a little under 4K to go if I'm on target. In truth I think it will be a little over that. I'm still hoping it might be finished by the end of tomorrow so I can have it done before we run out of 2015.

One thing in its favour for this is I've run out of episodes of Sherlock to watch. One of the cable channels here in the UK was showing one episode a day but they only had rights to the first six. The announcement at the end of the episode watched today was they be showing the next few episodes from February. A pain in terms of the cliff hanger ending it left, but good in terms of there's two hours I won't be watching TV in the morning.

It might mean I have a chance of finishing this story - draft 1 of it anyway.

I'm then going to get printing. I need to have the first draft of No Man's Land on paper so I can get to work on revising it.

So that's it for today. No more writing. I have a dinner to prepare and then will be watching Nordic Noir with the family.

Until tomorrow

What the hell's going on?

It's been an odd day. I've been watching a lot of the coverage of the flooding throughout Britain. I'm fortunate to live in an area which is mostly unaffected. We bought a house far from the coast and rivers and most of the way up a hill.

Watching it is heart breaking. So many people's lives are being turned upside down by all these storms continuing to batter Britain. And it looks like there is more and more rain forecast. Scary.

It's not just here. I've seen tales of exceptionally warm weather for the time of year, ice storms, considerable below average rainfall that seems to be threatening drought and much more weird weather from all over the globe. 2015 had been the warmest year ever.

And they say this El Nino effect could last throughout next year. Adding on the damage we've done to the planet and who knows how bad this might get.

More Nordic Noir musings

Over the past few days we've watched four of the movies that are linked together in English releases as Crimes of Passion. They are individual crime stories set in a beautiful part of Sweden in the 1940s/1950s. In feel they are bit like Miss Marple and star Tuva Novotny and Ola Rapace.

Now they are very enjoyable but we were looking for the darker side of Nordic drama - the real out and out noir and these were a bit lightweight. That and we wanted to watch the arc story of the kind that was done so well in both the Killing and the Bridge. These Crimes of Passion are single stories.

So we have left the last two for a later time and we opted tonight for the Spider (Edderkoppen in Danish). This is a six part crime series made in 2000 and set in 1949 Copenhagen. It's a tale of organised crime and police corruption and the reporters trying to get to the truth of the situation.

We watched the first three tonight and we're hooked. It's as gritty as hell, wonderfully well written, acted and directed. It is a little strange seeing all the actors like Lars Mikkelson who we've been watching in shows from more than a decade after this. They all look so young. But this is another firmly in the YES pile for anyone who wants to watch some Scandinavian drama.

The Crimes of Passion series is good too - but only if you prefer everything a little more wholesome.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

A good day's write

Today has been a good day to write. I finished the scene I left part completed on the 27th and added a further four. In total I added 2,955 words to the novella bringing it up to 23,632 words. It's going pretty much to plan so 30K is still the target. It might go over by a thousand words or so but it won't be more than that.

I'm still hoping I will get enough time over the next two days to complete it before the year's end but I'm not going to predict that will be the case. I know I will come to regret any such bold claims.

The plotting of the next stories is still underway. I might be a little way away from starting the intended next project though. I have about the first third mapped out in my head (and some on paper) and the ending is sorted. The problem is I haven't quite figured out how to get from A to B. It's a bit up in the air still.

If I haven't got it finalised so I might just write the opening couple of chapters of the Runecarver - the sequel to my earlier YA fantasy the Patternmaker's Daughter. One publisher has the full manuscript of that earlier book under consideration so it might be beneficial to have made a start on book 2. I have a full plot for book two written up and an outline for a further two books so would dearly love to continue that story.

I could probably do with sorting a few more submissions out there too - and do the revision of No Man's Land so I could give my brain more time to get the full plot of this PKD paranoia styled tale together.

Away from writing I have watched more Sherlock. Why didn't I watch this years ago? Mind you, maybe I shouldn't ask that. If I had I wouldn't be having all this televisual joy now. Today's ep was Hound of the Baskervilles. Really good modern twist on the whole thing. Looking forward to more - will be at least one more ep watched tomorrow.

Monday, 28 December 2015

What day is it again?

The thing with these Christmas holiday breaks is you lose track of things. Once Christmas itself is done and gone who really knows when they are? Okay, I need to offer apologies to anyone who works at this time of year. I used to and I know how it feels so sorry if us idle layabouts are being irritating. Just remember you get your chance to be smug by having more vacation time available at times of  year when there's something you can do with it.

And as anyone who actually knows me will tell you I always know when it is - I don't lose track of the date or day. My brain just won't let me.

It's two days since my last blog entry - yeah, this one is a little later than intended. I did a fair bit of writing yesterday - some 1,757 words. I ran out of time though when it came to doing a blog entry because I was going along with the family to watch my wife playing a gig - baritone sax time too.

The intention was that first thing today I was going to put that right and detail the writing progress of the day before and then get on with today's writefest. You see my wife was going to be out all today at a Saxophone thing. So she goes out, I'm home alone writer type. And then I made a mistake.

Just before going out last night to attend the gig I tweeted about my expectations to write for many hours and get a sizeable chunk towards finishing the novella. I shouldn't have done that. You see I have no shred of belief in fate whatsoever; or in premonitions or anything like luck. Tempting fate is one of those things that makes no sense. Whenever I hear people say it the first thought that goes through my head is "Do you really think the Universe gives a shit about little old you and your bowling league?"

I'm not saying I am starting to doubt my previous position. I am not. And I have no belief in myself as anyone important so even if the Universe did bother itself with us silly little humans (currently occupied with screwing up the one place we know can sustain us before finding another) why would I think it would start with me?

No the real reason is I am bound to get someone to say - "told you so, you shouldn't tempt fate."

Well today saw my wife cancel her Saxophone day as she is has a virus and is suffering a little. So I did the husband thing and spent the entire day with her, even making the occasional cup of coffee or fetching biscuits. Soppy old me, eh? (Oh Lord, I just sounded Canadian. What with that, eh?)

So it's now 7pm and I have a few minutes so I decided to blog instead of writing. I didn't think I'd have enough time to put together the next scene of the novel and I knew this was overdue. So I thought I would bore anyone who happens to read these things. If anyone does.

I know blogger gives me a count of page views but it isn't an indicator of readership. I will accede the comments are. I've had a few so I know that every now and again one of these has been read. But I don't assume this is a regular thing. I'm not that vain. And I'm not seeking sympathy or the internet version of a well done pat on the back. I'm not feeling depressed or auto-destructive. I don't blog because I need something extra in my life - be it acceptance or confirmation I'm not alone.

I blog... well in truth I'm not sure. Okay I have the pretence of writing so I detail my accomplishments in that field - great though they are not. So I can say that a part of this is to try to increase the internet awareness of my chosen pen name. But that's not it; or at least not fully it.

I think it's a kind of mental mouthwash thing. I use this refresh the brain. Let it ramble a little and maybe it will start working the way I want it to; or the way I need it to. I might not always know what that is.

Hmm, I just re-read this. I seem to gone off on one. Kind of confirms the last paragraph. Maybe I should have just kept to typing stuff about the TV show Sherlock which my wife persuaded me recently to watch. It had been on my list of programmes that sound interesting but which I can live without if it means I get more writing time.

Well in the lead up, I guess, to the Victorian episode, the whole lot are being reshown, one each day, and I am watching them. Up to number five so far and they are superb. I am hopelessly hooked and will be continuing until I run out.

That's better isn't it? Talking about TV shows, eh? It seems a little easier to read than the previous weird shit. I'll try to bear it in mind more in future and stop being so damn serious.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day round up

First off I need to apologise for the misleading heading for yesterday's blog entry. I'd listed it as the 1st blog entry of Christmas Day thoroughly expecting the be writing another later on. The day though didn't happen as I'd thought and I never had chance to fulfil that implied promise - not 'til now anyway.

Well yesterday, whilst everyone was doing all their Christmas things (and ordering me to keep out of the way) I added some 980 words to the novella. Today I've beaten that comfortably - adding another 2,626.

The novella is approaching the two thirds mark now on 18,920 words. I'm hoping I will get enough time over the next week to finish it (1st draft anyway) before the New Year starts. I want to get the next novel up and running as soon as possible in 2016.

The planning for that is going reasonably well. I spent over half an hour this evening before starting in on the novella bringing some ideas together. I may well be bringing in a bunch of characters and a mysterious organisation I'd sketched out for another story that didn't fully form to join with the notes I have for this one and make them into a, hopefully, sensible and coherent whole.

The two parts feel as though they will fit together well - at least in my head they do. We'll see once words start to be put down on electronic paper. It might all descent in a pit of nonsense. I'm hoping not but you can never tell. The interesting thing though is the genre.

You see since returning to this writing malarkey I have written in several different genres but ones that are easily linked.

1 Horror Novel (2 if you count my first ever attempt)
2 SF novels (3 if you count my second ever attempt)
1 Fantasy Novel
3 Weird Novellas.

Well this current idea fits into precisely none of those categories. It's a bit more thriller in feel - albeit with some tech stuff in there and a great big heap of paranoia. It's not a deliberate decision to not include anything from my favourite genres and by the time I've filled in all the bits of the plot that are still to be finished it might have shifted across into one of them but for now it's missed them all.

Although on a second consideration it might have touches of Philip K. Dick in there. I did mention the paranoia angle didn't I? So maybe it isn't a total departure.

I don't want to give away too much about it yet. Not for fear of giving away a good story idea (not that I'm going to claim it is one, just wouldn't want to take the risk in case it is). It's more that I'm struggling to describe it without it sounding like a Dan Brown clone. It isn't that in my head; it's just that the summary I tried earlier sounds like one.

In my head it's much more a PKD story crossed with Max Barry (a really great Australian writer of surreal stories) and then coated with some Thomas M. Disch trappings. There is also the chance a bit of Anthony Burgess might influence it - think One Hand Clapping if you've read it. (If you haven't you should.) And oddly when I was writing down the plot in my notebook I had a bit of a Robert Ludlum thought in my head.

So wrap all that up and see what you make of it. If you're intrigued keep your fingers crossed I can keep it together enough to write the damn thing and then get it published. Let's see what 2016 brings for it.

BTW one last thought - December's writing diary has seen 32,848 words of fiction written in 26 days Ten of those were non-writing days due to Christmas etc and wanting to spend some time with my wife - that will always win out. So I have ensured my daily average for the month will exceed a thousand words - of fiction. I've probably added another 10K into this blog and other things over that time. Not a bad effort even if I say/type so myself.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas Day Post 1

I guess most people will be with their family flat out today and not tapping on a keyboard like me. (BTW - not after sympathy)

So I'm not sure how many people will read this but I have a few minutes so I thought I'd blog; not really in the right head for writing yet. Christmas is here. Kind of an obvious statement, I know. You can hardly miss it after all. There are adverts and TV programmes everywhere after all.

Now I am not a parent, nor a Christian so this day has less significance for me than many. The good part for me is getting to spend time with the (small) family I do have (as it is with many I guess).

Well last night we tried to get our now traditional Christmas activity off to a good start and settled in to watch some Nordic Noir. We chose Jordskott. It didn't go down well with any of the others really. We only watched one episode. I enjoyed it but it's not really your typical Nordic Noir. It lacks many of the dark crime bits (even though it starts with a missing kid suspected of being kidnapped) and then ends with a very surreal supernaturally bit. I'm going to try to watch the other episodes at some point but it won't be family fair.

So we switched to Crimes of Passion - a series of Swedish crime thriller set in the 1950s. We watched the first of them, Death of a Loved One, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My mother in law thought it mostly boring. It was a little slower paced than the other Nordic Noirs we've seen and considerably more gentle in mood but I'm going to disagree with her, I'm looking forward to watching more of them.

The series stars one of the main actors in the Norwegian dark comedy show Dag that we've watched recently - Tuva Novotny. She's a great actor - adept at serious and comedic and I am keen to watch more things starring her.

Well with two strikes out of two (from one person's POV) on Nordic Noir the consensus afterwards was for a film so the latest Mission Impossible was chosen. Okay well it's a bit of a action fest with all the usual MI stuff so if you like that kind of thing then I guess you will enjoy this one. Personally I'm ambivalent towards it. It was well mad, had plenty of the over the top impossible action you might expect from an MI film but it won't be one I'll remember much of or talk about in future.

Later today we will, I'm sure do another viewing fest - I'm hoping there will be one Nordic Noir or similar that we can settle on - I like these ten episode dramas set in some bleak landscape that the Scandinavians seem so good at.

We will see.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Mini writing hiatus

After three days of hardly seeing my wife as she was always out gigging and with the knowledge that once Christmas is over she will be off for another three or four days of being out gigging I wasn't going to spend last night and tonight in this office tapping the keys, writing my novella. I was going to spend time with her when there was time. And before you ask how am I writing this blog entry unless I am being away from her - well you do have a point. But I am going to keep this short.

You see there is a writing thing I want to blog about and it's a good one. I got the email containing a link the pdf of latest issue of the Literary Hatchet containing a short story of mine. Click on http://literaryhatchet.com/ and you'll get to the main screen - click further on the Issues menu item and scroll down to issue 13. I'm in that one. You can download it for free.

Just to whet your appetite and for me to show off a bit more - here's a screen shot of the titles page (part of it showing my story listed)


And just for good measure here's the header page they created for the story - it's kind of cool to see it.


I've got a physical copy on its way to me which I'm expecting early in the New Year. No doubt I will blog about that when it arrives.

Anyway - I'm off back to enjoy some more "us" time with my wife. I'll be back on here in the next day or two (during the bits when I'm hiding out of the way as the family makes a special meal. We might celebrate Christmas per se but having this much time of together can only be good. Especially as it usually means we will be doing another Nordic Noir marathon.

 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Monday writing report

Today was a day off work. As my wife was gigging all weekend we decided on this day as our chance to have one last day out before Christmas and possible take in the Frankfurt market in the middle of Birmingham. It didn't quite turn out like that.

My father in law received, last Friday, a faster than expected appointment at the hospital to check on the result of some previous surgery. (It went well.) But it meant she was going to have to drive him into Leicester which put paid to our going out for the whole day. And then some other things happening in the next two days meant the only time that the main shopping to cover the period over Christmas could happen was this morning. That reduced the part day out to no day out.

Never mind. It wasn't an essential trip. In any case it would mean I had a chance to do a little more writing while wife/F-in-L did the shopping. (And before you ask they choose to not take either me or the M-in-L on these trips, we don't chicken out.) Then we could have the evening together before I head back to work tomorrow.

Yeah, well that plan was as likely to happen as the others wasn't it. And just as you might expect another phone call saw her heading off to yet another gig. Which is where she is as I type this. Or rather, on the back from it is where she is now. They would have finished playing at 11 (current time in UK 11:32pm).

So I did the only thing a writer could do when free time presented itself. I did some more writing.

Here is the summary

Today - 4,788 words.
Novella - 15,314 words
December word count - 29,242

There's a milestone or two in that summary. For one thing that's the most words I've committed to the page in a single day since before I started logging the daily word count. The most previously was the 4,073 of the first day of NaNoWriMo before No Man's Land started to bog me down a little. I'm happy with that.

Then there's the matter of the novella word count. I'm aiming this at 30K which means today it is at the halfway mark. That's a few days ahead of where I expected to be. I can't complain about that. And finally there is the month to date figure. At 29,242 words I am only 3K behind where I was when I was going for the 50K in NaNoWriMo.

Not bad when you consider I've had seven days in there when, through revising earlier novels for submission, headache or family/social commitments, I didn't add even one word to the count.

Away from the keyboard mangling part of writing today saw one rejection email arrive - for the YA Fantasy. It was friendly enough but a rejection is still a rejection even if they don't use the phrase 'it stinks'. Bugger.

Totally away from writing we have caught up on the DCU TV shows. I'm presuming they have now all stopped for the Christmas mid season break. Well if they have, they have all ended the first half of their seasons well. Arrow was particularly strong this week and left you on a real cliff hanger. I can't wait until it returns.

Yesterday we also finished the third season of the Bridge. Wow. All I can say, without giving away too much, is that the Swedes/Danes have no problems putting their characters through the emotional wringer. I hope that this series doesn't end here but if it does it's gone out maintaining its high standard through all thirty episodes.

Also watched Grimm; now this is a show I thought could be far too silly when I first saw it. After all lots of were creatures running around could become daft. Were-squirrel anyone? But I am so glad my worries were groundless. It's established itself as a favourite in our viewing schedule and this week's episode kept the standard up; progress the overall story arc enough without sacrificing the enjoyment factor of a single episode. And it featured the return of someone who has been absent from the screen for a while; in a manner which didn't come across as contrived. Good stuff.

Back to work tomorrow - a short week. Just three days and then I have ten uninterrupted days off. Intending to do a bit of writing (mainly during the inevitable gigs my wife has) and watching one or two more Scandi dramas - Jordskott being a strong contender for the first out of the box and onto the box.

Anyway - that's it. All caught up. Now to go relax for a few minutes and wind down towards sleep. Not sure it will be that easy with the Temples of Syrinx playing. Not going to switch it off though - music too good

Monday half time report

Well my morning of writing has come to an end and it's been a successful one. I completed the section I left incomplete last night and added a further three to it for a total of 2,407 words. If I get the same kind of time to write this evening (with my wife being out playing again) I should see at least another two thousand added to the total. Not going to count my chickens until it's all done though. Things have a nasty habit of getting in the way.

The novella is now just seventy words short of thirteen thousand the paranoia has well and truly kicked in. I rather like writing these Ben Williamson stories. It's fun seriously messing with the same character in all these different ways. I must have a dozen or more potential plots scribbled down now in my Ben Williamson notebook - yeah, he's graduated to his own notebook. I'm really hopeful I will get one of these published soon - I think it could make a cool series.

Away from that I'm still no closer to deciding which of the possible next novel projects should follow it. Still I have time to figure that out over the holidays. I'm sure one of them will have risen higher in my subconscious than the others and demand release.

(Late) Weekend Round Up

Last night was the second night in a row my wife was playing a gig (this time on baritone saxophone) and so I had a night in writing. (Now before anyone asks why I don't go along and watch her play, she plays a lot of private functions and I'm not allowed to attend. This evening is another private function, Boxing Day is a wedding and so on. I will be going to one over Christmas as it's a pay on the door but general when she is playing I write.)

As a result I managed to get a decent chunk of writing done. The weekends progress is as follows

Saturday - 3,145 words
Sunday - 3,641 words

I am hoping to add some more today but I have things to do to get ready for the day job tomorrow so time is more limited. We will see.

Anyway, the novella is now standing at 10,526 words, a little over a third of its intended length. I'm hoping to be over halfway before Christmas and finished by New Year. That was I can kick off the New Year with a new novel project.

I guess somewhere in there I might do the revision on the bawdy science fiction detective space station story No Man's Land and start to see if I can find it a home.

On the subject of submissions, I did send a couple more for the YA fantasy out last night whilst trying to watch a bad horror film called the Dead Undead. The film wasn't brilliant and I wanted to get back to writing anyway so it got pulled after half an hour when I realised I just didn't care whether any of the characters survived (never a good sign) and more worryingly didn't care to see how they died which is kind of the point of a horror film).

And I didn't receive a single rejection all weekend - they must be saving them up for this week in a here's a special Christmas present for you kind of way.

So there you are all caught up. More to report later

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Before I get started tonight

I might have blogged a bit yesterday but I still completely forgot one thing I intended to mention. In between reporting anything relevant to my writing and my ramblings on, well pretty much anything that comes to me, I have been detailing my on going book collecting.

Since the car boot (US read swap meet) season ended it's a been a little thin on the ground. There just aren't the used book stores there used to be any more and buying new books isn't as much fun. But I do have charity shops to peruse and whilst they are often not all that good for the kind of older sf I am addicted to it does pop up occasionally.

Yesterday wasn't one of those times however so apologies if you thought this is where I was leading you. I popped into six shops and managed to find just two books and both of them fairly recent. For completeness sake they were

S.M. Stirling - Dies the Fire
Graham Masterton - Taken for Dead

Better than nothing - considerably. Those are two fine authors and I'm pleased to have these books in my collection.

Okay - caught up, I'm going to get writing

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Writing update (actual writing this time)

I was thinking I might wait until I had finished writing completely before tapping in another blog entry but some thoughts were going through my head and distracting me from writing so I decided I'd best get them down.

I'm writing another Ben Williamson novella. So far today I've added 2,640 words bringing the whole up to 6,380. And for anyone who's interested those words have also brought the December writing total up to 20,308 new words between No Man's Land and this novella. not bad considering I've not been as focussed one word count as I was last month.

Anyway that's not why I've interrupted my writing to tap out this blog. You see music is a great inspiration for me. I'm currently halfway through a section of the novella that is set in Düsseldorf. Anyone who's read this blog recently will know that I've been listening to a great deal of German music - especially Kraftwerk. And guess where they hail from. Yeah; it's Düsseldorf.

So you would think it would make sense to listen to more of it as I type this wouldn't you. Well I picked Dr, John's Gumbo instead. Which of course has had me thinking of New Orleans and a plot for another Ben Williamson story popped into my head (guess where it's set).

So I had to stop writing the current story long enough to get it written down and blogged about a bit so I would remember it which will hopefully clear the mind enough to get back to the current story. Now before you think there's a voodoo/zombie story in the offing let me assure you I'm not that obvious. New Orleans is too much associated with voodoo in Hollywood movies for me to pick it as a story. I will say though that all the water around there does feature in it, although maybe not in the way you might think. There's certainly not going to be a second round of Katrina like devastation.

Right - mind should hopefully be sufficiently blanked of New Orleans. Let's get back to the current story.

Going off topic and off on one - green energy

The UK government has gone ahead with cuts to subsidies on solar panels less than a week after a deal in signed on limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Just curious, but how barking mad is that? And how barking mad is it that this is not the only such reverse from environmentalism that we've had?

I just skipped across to the BBC News website and opened the Science page to take a look. Okay it's a bit Tim Peake focussed at the moment - understandable given the UK's first ever astronaut has just joined the crew of the ISS - but there are still eight articles in the headlines and commentary sections that relate to global warming or climate change or whatever you want to call it.

Britain is a great country for innovation - we seem to have it in our blood - but it is being stifled by policy shift after policy shift in precisely the wrong direction.

Now here's the rub. I am 48 years old next month. I have no children. Neither I nor my wife have siblings so there are no nieces and nephews around either. In thirty years or so my direct involvement with this planet will be done. If I publish books people might remember me longer but from my limited POV I could say I don't give a hoot about what happens to this world once I'm not longer a living, breathing part of it. Okay, let's extend that. Let's say I could care up to the point neither my wife nor I need it.

But it's not the case. I, for all their faults, rather like the members of the human race. Call me sentimental, but it's true. I like the idea that we will avoid killing ourselves off and make it to the stars and actual have one of those destiny things. Be nice too, it one day we find another sentient life form out there but that's the science fiction fan in me be romantic. I'll settle for us getting the hell out of this place before we destroy it and end up dead.

I'm hoping that most people on the face of this earth would agree with me which is why it irritates the heck out of me when decisions that go against what I consider sense are made. And it's not just the money. I understand that this government is trying to cut costs and do this austerity thing but there is still a future worth planning and striving for.

You see if we promote this kind of technology then we could be and remain a world leader in it and, in the long run, probably make money doing this touchy feely, hippy, save the planet crap. But no, cut the subsidy now, kill an industry before it can stand alone and then when we need it in future we will end up buying a German engineered, Chinese built solution instead of selling ours to them.

And before you ask I have nothing against either of those countries or the citizens of them. I'm a pretty accepting kind of person - free thinking liberal and all that. But I am British and I would like to be proud of what my country is doing. The problem is, too much of what I see depresses me and this negative attitude towards protecting the world that, as far as we know, is the only place we can survive seems completely against the idea of fair play and leadership that I was brought up thinking being British meant.

We shouldn't be exporting our problems to others and delegating our responsibility to them along with them. We should be holding our hands up and admitting a sizeable portion of this problem was our making and we will be at the forefront of the effort to put it right.

Anyway - rant over. I'll put my soapbox back in the cupboard under the stairs where it should probably stay and get back to writing. Sorry to have gone off topic.

Let's see what Saturday brings - musings

Well the weekend started off well. I logged on as soon as I got in (usual pre XMas shopping things) and watched the emails downloaded. There were four from various agencies I'd submitted my novels to and all four were rejections. Or to put it another way - good morning World, good to see you too.

Three of the rejections were for my YA Fantasy, the other for the political science fiction novel.

Rejection Report so far

Mr. Stinky (horror) - 20 - 11 presumed dead
Against the Fall of Empire (sf) - 18 - 8 presumed dead
The Intersection (weird novella) - 3 - 3 presumed dead (but far fewer submissions)
The Patternmaker's Daughter (ya fantasy) - 13

I had better not delay revising No Man's Land for too long. It's probably starting to feel a little left out in not appearing on this list. I could also start sending out submissions of A Parallel Life - the other completed Ben Williamson novella. I've been holding back as I'm not totally happy with one part of it and have yet to figure out how to rewrite it. I'll dedicated some time to them before the end of the year and sort it once and for all. Then I can six flavours of rejection.

Against all this negativity though there are some bright spots. I have four requests for whole manuscripts still pending

Against the Fall of Empire (sf) - 1
The Intersection (weird novella) - 2
The Patternmaker's Daughter 1

Okay these might (and probably will) come to nothing but it gives me some hope to know that I have got three of my four submitting longer works getting past the first stage of submission at least once each. That makes me think that I must be doing something at least close to right. And I could cite the three short story sales I've had since returning to this writing malarkey. (See, I'm being positive.)

I also need to consider one other thing. I only made my first submission since returning to writing in mid April. It's been just eight months (to the day) since I sent my first sub in to John Jarrold on April 19th.

So to get three different books to full manuscript consideration I consider a success. I also consider the fact that since the end of May I have written three novels and two novellas plus three short stories to be positive. I've learnt the discipline of doing this writing thing. And this is where I must give a little kudos to one man who's been a source of inspiration for me in so many different ways since 1977.

You see that was the year I found an Isaac Asimov book in a small kiosk newsagent/general store in Great Yarmouth whilst sheltering from the English summer. I bought Through a Glass, Clearly - a collection of four short stories and, much to the surprise of my mother, read it.

I can remember that part clearly (no pun intended with the book title). Even given my precocious nine year old nature and being a mathematics fanatic she didn't expect me to fall in love with reading as much as I did - even given the fact I was always devouring the usual kiddie book fair such as Roald Dahl. Well, from that book onwards I was hooked on science fiction in general and Asimov in particular.

He first inspired me to learn more and more about science ending up with my studying mathematics/astrophysics at University, and more recently he has inspired me to write. This time it is my constant reading of his volumes of autobiography/memoirs that are doing the trick.

In them he talks about the getting up and getting on with it approach he had to his writing. Don't talk about it, do it. Well in this Web 2.0 world you have to do a fair bit of talking (or rather typing) about it. Writing without a social media presence is a no go really. But I approach that about the same as I do the writing. Do it, and try to do it well. Whether I succeed in that is not a matter for me to decide.

And in the writing side of it - I try to write most days. Okay this week has seen a couple of nights when I didn't - a headache causing one and a pre-arranged family thing last night causing the second. But generally if I have chance I will write or at least do something to support the writing. Thursday, the headachy night saw me fire off seven submissions in the end so the time wasn't wasted. (I would never dream of calling spending time with my family as wasted.)

That approach seems to be working for me - at least from the POV of word counting. From the start of June until today I have written (and mostly redrafted) over 350,000 of fiction. And I have a full time job alongside that. Where is independent wealth when you need it? How many more words could I have tapped into this keyboard if I had had an extra eight hours each day?

Of course I have no idea whether I would have had that much more inspiration to fill all those hours but it certainly would have been nice to find out.

Well today I will have a little time this lunch time (maybe another half hour) and some considerable time this evening as my wife has a gig. She'd doubling alto sax and clarinet today. And tomorrow she will be out at another (baritone sax) so there should be chance to get the third Ben Williamson novella to grow.

I guess you might be asking why then am I tapping out what is turning into quite a lengthy blog entry rather than just getting on with writing the damn book. It's good question and one I admit is occurring to me.

In truth I never expected this entry to grow quite this long. I'd intended to tap out a quick update on submissions and then head off to the novella and get going but when I re-read the start of this blog I realised it sounded a little depressing and I wanted to make it more upbeat and try to convince you (or is that me?) that I am not down about my lack of writing success.

I am a realist. I am writing because the doing of it makes me happy and the dream of holding a book I'd written is enticing. But I am fully aware it may never happen. All this effort may well be for naught. But the chance is enough to make it more worthwhile.

Oh - the other thing Asimov inspired about writing is to not overly labour prose. He talked about keeping the telling of the story as straightforward as possible. He did it saying it was because he didn't know how to write florid descriptions but I think that was just modesty. He told tales without the words used getting in the way of the story. That's what I would like to do. I may miss at times as I enjoy language and know a lot of obfuscating words and could it I let myself allow my prose to head into the darkest realms of bloviation.

Here's some links for what those words mean
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/obfuscation
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bloviation

But I wouldn't want anyone reading my storied to need to keep a dictionary on hand just because I like feeling superior. That really would make me a pompous arse and (although I probably am one) it is not what I'm aiming for with my writing.

Anyway, it really is time to post this, tweet a link to the page and get writing. I hope I haven't bored you too much.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

New novella update - thoughts on titles

You may have noticed something about this novella I'm writing. I've not mentioned its title in this blog, or n twitter, tumblr, Facebook or wherever else I may haunt. If you are thinking it is an oversight let me assure you it isn't.

The title is an important part of any story but out of the ones I have written so far it has not been as relevant to the story as it is here.

In No Man's Land, my previous novel, the name of the station was pretty much arbitrary. Okay maybe not arbitrary as I think it is a pretty good name for a space station and it fits the plot quite well but the story would have worked just as well if I'd invented a different name.

Likewise with the YA fantasy the Patternmaker's Daughter the title was relevant but not crucial. Patternmaker is an insult in the world the story takes place. But I could have probably come up with something jut as effective if I'd taken a bit longer to think about it.

I could go on through my other stories and come up with changes to the titles which wouldn't affect the story. Even Mr. Stinky, a story which evolved entirely out of the title, could have seen this change without much harm.

Before now I've even changed a story title after finishing it without harm. The first novel I write was one - a proto-novel really as it was my first attempt. I do not count it amongst my completed novels as I think it is so far from publishable as to make a near complete rewrite a definite requirement before any thoughts of submission enter my head. I view it as the project that proved to me I had it in me, discipline wise, to finish writing something of novel length. It was a horror story and took 100,000 words to tell. The plot's okay and some of the description was quite good but other than that - nah.

But the main reason for mentioning it is in regards the title. The book originally was titled after the lead character, a thoroughly dislikeable commodities broker (and before you say that's not narrowing it down I have in the past known a commodities  broker and he was a thoroughly pleasant fellow).

All well and good until I met someone with the name of the lead character, and hence book, and found I liked him. Worse still he even had some uncanny similarities with the characters - such as the car they both drove. So XXXXXXX's Death became Adam's Death. And the character was renamed. Before you ask I don't know any Adams - it was just the first two syllable male name that didn't sound horrible in front of the word death.

Anyway back to the current project. Am I going to announce its title. Well, I'm afraid I am not. It's too key to me to let it out just yet. If I finish it and the miracle of it being accepted for publication happens then I guess I will have to. But until then I am just going to refer to it as the weird novella or Ben Williamson 3 or something or other. I just hope it doesn't disappoint now after all this hype when you do find out what it is.

So, onto the progress report from BW3 (that's it. I'll call it that for now). I didn't have much of a writing head on today. I spent much of my day at work with a headache and it's left me rather drained and without much inspiration. So much so it took about an hour to write more than a single paragraph. But I persevered and managed to add a couple of scenes to the story that I didn't instantly delete after a quick re-read. They even progressed the plot a decent amount to - well, maybe completed the set up of the background of the story might be more accurate. Nothing has really happened yet.

Here are the stats for the night
2 scenes
1,190 words added tonight
3,740 words total

Or to put it another way, more than 10% done. Not bad for two nights, one of which was a mind reamer.

I've also been keeping up with the daily word count logging as started during NaNoWriMo. December so far has been a little disjointed with having a break from writing new fiction to hurriedly type up the revision notes into the YA Fantasy so I could send it in to the publisher and a day off after following No Man's Land. But despite that here's a progress report.

December (16 days)
Total words - 17,688
Daily Average - 1,104

Okay, it's not up to the 1,591 words I averaged through November but I'm happy with it. Hopefully I will be able to up the average a little this weekend as my wife is playing two gigs, neither of which I can attend so I will have a decent chunk of time to write.

Away from writing I found out tonight there is a new Jo Nesbo inspired/written (not sure) TV show coming to Sky Arts next month. More Nordic Noir - happy me.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Tuesday Submissions and a new project

Well today was a back in the office day after a day off. Getting up that bit earlier is never fun. Ah well.

Anyway, this evening started with a quick trio of submissions of the YA fantasy novel to some agencies where new agents were looking to build lists - always worth a shot. I started with subs because having finished one novel on Sunday I always find it a little tricky to start a new one and I didn't want to just sit here staring at a screen.

Having done them I thought I would see if the writing muscles fancied a quick flexing. Surprisingly I found this new project quite easy to get going. It probably helps that I decided on another Ben Williamson weird novella as I know the characters well and so all I had to do was concentrate on the story.

Well the novella now stands at 2,550 words and I am underway on a new project - yehay. Always feels good to have something underway.

It'll give me time to decide on the next novel project. I had thought I was going to go for the Venice/Magic YA story but last night I came up with a decent plot for the YA supernatural. Previously all I had had for that one was the characters, the setting and how the supernatural side of it would work but no decent tale to fit into it. That changed last night halfway through a conversation with my wife. I had to apologise to her, grab my notebook and get scrawling it all down before I forgot a word.

So I'm going to write this novella - estimated at 30K and flesh out the plot for the YA supernatural a little until I am ready to write the next novel. Of course I will probably write something else entirely but I guess that's how I am. I am disciplined once I start writing something - managing to only be on one project at a time but aside from that juggling many future possibles

Anyway, better stop now and go be sociable.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Monday thoughts - a catch up following completion

Well, this is a really odd part of writing. I finished a novel yesterday and find myself in between projects trying to decide where to go next. It's odd. I may have said that already. I know one thing, or rather two.

The first is I do not want to just jump straight into revising the bawdy scifi thing that is No Man's Land. I have had one or two ideas for how to improve certain parts - things to add, things to reword a little. But I'm writing these down in my pad rather than being tempted to grab the file and start editing. That can happen later.

But equally I'm not totally sure I want to start writing another story just yet - which is a great pity as the rest of the family are busy putting up Christmas trees so I would have had chance. And before you go all bah humbag at me (however justified it might be) they tell me to stay well out of the way when they do this. The also tell my father in law to stay clear so it's not just me. It's pretty much no men folk allowed.

So here I am on the computer with no writing to do. Which meant of course just one thing - I should go submit something somewhere and fortunately I knew just the one to do. I'd been given a lead on a major publisher who is having an open door period for non agented submissions so I've spent the past half hour or so putting Against the Fall of Empire into the format they wanted and it is now in their slush pile. Fingers crossed.

I might spend a little more time this afternoon sorting out another submission or three. Kind of the done thing to do with all these novels now I've written them I guess.

Away from writing took advantage of the novel being over and caught up on a couple more TV shows that had been starting to back up. As a result we are now up to date with the Blacklist. I was a little worried with this series. Season two ended with Lizzie being set up for killing a US government type (senator?) and she went on the run. I was concerned this change of direction would be hard to maintain going forward and it would either feel really disjointed as a show with many characters doing little more than twiddling thumbs or they would wrap it up too quickly and too easily in one or two episodes.

They've done neither. It's still on going as a storyline and they are making it work well. Looking forward to the new episode already

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The book is done (draft one anyway)

I finished writing draft one of the bawdy sci-fi novel No Man's Land. Feeling quite happy about it as I thought I would be writing the epilogue on Tuesday so ahead of schedule.

Going to take the next day or so to think over which of the ideas will become the next project. I know common sense tells me the Ben Williamson would be the best as it is only likely to be 30K and I have a market in mind for it but I need to write what feels best at that moment. Not sure yet but I am positive I will have committed to one idea in the next day or so.

Went through the notebooks yesterday to figure out how many I'm choosing from and there are eleven different novels with plots in various stages of development in them. Yeah - I have options which is good.

My wife will tell you of the bad side of that arrangement though - I have to make a decision. It's kind of strange. When I'm doing my day job I find decisions easy. As soon as I step away from that the difficulty goes through the roof even though the subject matter of the decisions becomes so much more inconsequential. Never said my brain worked properly.

Away from writing, having finished draft one we celebrated by watching some TV. Caught up with the latest episode of Grimm - Trouble is back and the whole secret society sub-plot moved on a little whilst still maintaining a good monster of the week storyline. And then watched episodes 7 & 8 of season 3 of the Bridge.

All I can say about the Bridge is WOW. They are really putting lead character Saga through the ringer. She suffers from Aspergers and has difficulty relating to others or her own emotions and in this pair of episodes they've hit her hard from just about every angle imaginable. I'm not going to go all spoilers on you with details but take it from me if you have not watched this show you must.

German Music

I'm heading off on a tangent already and I haven't even opened the Word doc for the novel I want to finish. Ah well, I will just have to accept I am the King of Procrastination

The reason for this tangent was a my posting last night about Germany music wise. My musical listening was structured around German starting, middle and end points with

Helloween
Avalon
Kraftwerk

Well as I was paying the inevitable price last night for all the caffeine I'd consumed during yesterday's writing sessions it truck me just how many German bands feature in my collection. So I've popped Rammstein's Mutter album in to kick off the day and I thought I might try to list them (obsessed with lists).

Let's put the four just mentioned down to start and see where it goes from there

Helloween
Avalon
Kraftwerk
Rammstein
Tangerine Dream
Scorpions
Michael Schenker
Accept
Poverty's No Crime
Neu!
Can
Amon Düül
Amon Düül II
Ash Ra Tempel
Faust
Popol Vuh
Nena
Propaganda
Guru Guru
Xmal Deutschland
Die Toten Hosen
Electric Sun

And I'm sure there are more. I'll be kicking myself  in ten minutes when I've posted this and another three pop into my head but you get the idea with the list above.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

End of writing Saturday report

Today has seen more words added to this novel in a single day since November 7th. I have written 3,209 words, finished chapter 21 (penultimate) and written half of chapter 22 (final). The novel is now up to 86,658 words. Two thousand more and the last chapter will be done and then there is just the matter of the epilogue which should be no more than a further two thousand.

It will come in at a smidge of 90K which was my intended target when I plotted the thing out. Not too shabby an estimate if you ask me (which you haven't). It'll change a little once I get to revising it and adding in the comedy bios for some of the leading characters but the word count won't be far off what it is now by the time it's all done. And then I will have another one to fire out into submissions land to ensure my never ending stream of rejections can continue.

That's the cycle of things - spend all that time writing your latest, greatest masterpiece, revise and polish then send out into the world and await rejection.

Now before you think I'm getting all down and mopey - I'm not. I'm just not putting a brake on my natural sarcastic tendencies; instead letting it all flow. Hence this notice - I AM IN A GOOD MOOD. Not sure why - it could be something to do with the amount of caffeine I've ingested today. I don't normally drink much caffeine as it affects me in not good ways but it does help the writing so I will cope with the inevitable being awake and feeling paranoid at 4am. Tomorrow I will keep off it.

I've been through quite a selection of writing music to keep me going today from Germany to Germany and back. I realised this as I started to think about this blog.

The first piece of music I played today was by German metal band Helloween - a favourite album from the 80s, Keep of the Seven Keys Part 2. Then it went eclectically through Springsteen, Live, Elbow, and others before getting around to German rock and hippy weirdness band Avalon's Eurasia album complete with its cover of Mr Mister's Kyrie then I spiralled off in many directions including the Beach Boys, B-52's (grocer's apostrophe their) and others before finishing with one of my favourite bands - Kraftwerk.

All in all a successful day and no rejection emails coming this way. Although having seen that three of the submissions I made through Submittable have no moved across to In-Progress you feel it's only inevitable.

I'll have more writing time tomorrow. My wife is starting rehearsals for a pantomime and so I'll be home alone again. I'm going to stress her role in it is looking after the music and playing clarinet/saxophone. She won't be on stage. I should have a chance of finishing the final chapter before Sunday is over although I don't think I'll get to the epilogue until Tuesday.

One final thing to mention. I am a fan of rugby union side the Leicester Tigers and so very happy tonight as they went over to Munster and won. Muster have played 67 home games in European competition and only lost five of them so you can see just how significant this is. Oh, and one of the previous four defeats was also to Leicester. Isn't that a shame.

Somewhere in the middle of it all

Well I'm 1,574 words into today's writing and I have just finished the penultimate chapter of the book. Yep, the next time I touch a keyboard will see the first word of the final chapter hit the screen. Kind of colossal that moment is, every time. And to give you a little tease, the chapter title is already there - 'Watch out Fan, You Know What’s Coming'

I thought I'd take a break from it though, rather than just jump in so I can formulate the opening couple of sentences properly - and come up with some more euphemisms involving wild animals and bodily parts. Brain cells need a quick refresh. So here I am, listening to the Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow - kind of trendy for me - and typing up a quick blog just to get some more words flowing through the grey cells. Words like epimorphisms, pneumatics and prestidigitator. If I get lucky it might even through in a weird phrase like bloviating obfuscation. I like that one, makes me feel good which is half the point of it I guess.

Anyway the update on the writing is as follows. 21 of the planned 22 chapters are written (well being honest as there is a decent sized introduction and a chapter zero I should say 23 of the planned 24 but that's just semantics - as is pointing out the intention for the novel to have a epilogue meaning I should maybe say 24 out of 25). Whatever you decide from all that, the point is I only have one more chapter (and an epilogue) to write and I will be done. With any luck that might be by the end of tomorrow although I'm expecting it to be Tuesday night. Monday evening is intended as a no writing night as it's one of the few times I will see my wife awake for more than ten minutes in the next seven days as she's either going to be gigging, rehearsing or at the day job.

I have done some other writing related stuff too. Twitter suggested someone for me to follow - turned out that someone was a publisher who accept YA fiction so I sent off another submission. Took a little time as their requirements were quite a bit different to the norm so it meant writing a new synopsis for the book, one that met their requirement and then get a listing of all my social media sites sorted (including this blog). Fingers crossed as always.

More TV thoughts - we finished watching the 7th episode of Supergirl, Human for a Day. Well did we find out a couple of things in this episode? I'm not going to spoil it in case you've not seen it or bore you to death if you have no intention of seeing it.

It was one of those growing episodes all series need to have if they are going to survive. It managed to reveal something pretty major about one of the main characters, forced the lead character to move beyond what she was in a time of need, added some angst between cast members which will no doubt come to some kind of head later and move the whole series arc forward a touch. Yeah, all in all good stuff and congrats to the show runners and writers. (I thank the creators first always). The actors were all good too. All round top effort.

Saturday Opening Salvo

Well my wife is off at the next part of the weekend music madness. She's playing a charity set in a coffee shop in Ashby de la Zouch so I am all home alone with only music and my computer to keep me company (trust me, I'll be fine).

Well having dealt with the mass of emails (mostly twitter notifications and junk mail) I am getting myself in a writing mood. So I thought to prefix my next creative burst I would type up a quick blog entry. Now you might think that as pretty much all I've done since the last entry is sleep, get up, eat breakfast and help my wife with carrying amplifiers and saxophones (and you'd be pretty much right).

But there was always the chance of an email from a publisher or an agent that could mean I had some writing news to share. There wasn't; which is good news in one sense as my day didn't start with a rejection or twenty three. No doubt they are all just saving them up for later so I get a mid afternoon downer-fest.

The only main thing I have done since the last blog entry is watch a couple more episode of Danish-Swedish crime series the Bridge (Season 3). These BTW were the ones from last Saturday. As it was another gig night we had to save them up and watch them in between giggingness and band practicing. So kind of strange to be watching this kind of thing early in the morning (crime drama always works best after dark) but the episodes were still stunning.

They are really putting Saga through the wringer this series - making her cope with some serious messed up stuff and all without the comforting companionship of either former partner Martin or her understanding and very supportive boss Hans Petterson.

Her new partner, Danish cop Henrik Saboe, is an interesting character and I think an able replacement for the absent Martin. He has a truck full of problems of his own so the two of them match quite well. And there is the one secret that might affect their relationship for the worse should Saga find out so we have a decent bit of tension in there.

I hope I've given you a flavour of the show without giving away anything crucial to the plot.

You must watch it - it's brilliant. And don't give me the excuse of your not being able to deal with subtitles - get over it and watch!

Right - time to get writing

Friday, 11 December 2015

End of Friday writing update

Well it feels good to get back writing the bawdy scifi novel after the craziness of the week. I won't be on target to finish it off this weekend - not unless I get really productive anyway. But I won't be far off.

Tonight I added 1,017 words bringing it up to 83,449. The first one and half scenes of chapter are in the bag (or should that be in the book?) so it's getting closer to the end all the time. I'm still expecting it to be 22 chapters and a short epilogue and this late in the book I can't see the plan changing overmuch. I might sneak an extra scene in somewhere but it's pretty much done.

I'm also hoping to get time to sort out some more submissions this weekend. I know I have this one publisher reading the full manuscript of the Patternmaker's Daughter but I am not counting on it getting a positive result. I'm still going to work on the premise of needing to send more out. And when I think of it I do have four completed, fully revised books to get going out there.

Might spend a bit more time sorting out the 2nd Ben Williamson novel too. Then I could add a fifth into the mix.

Okay - some non writing thoughts. We finished the Flash/Arrow crossover and it ended as satisfyingly as it had started. The Supergirl story is also continuing well. I am impressed with the current roster of TV superheroes. Let's hope the Marvel ones keep up the standard when I get the chance to watch them. I really must sort out a Netflix submission at some point. I've been resisting it as I'm not a fan of this ever increasing range of must pay for services. but when there are shows like this I might have to abandon my principles - or maybe just buy the DVDs

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Further back down to Earth

Well I now know the world isn't going to let me ego or optimism grow out of control. After the boost it had when a NY based publisher asked for the full manuscript of the Patternmaker's Daughter (my YA Fantasy) I had the three rejections I mentioned in the last blog post - which was something of a return to normal.

Well one more day on and I have another two rejections to add to the pile, one for Mr. Stinky (horror) and another for the Patternmaker's Daughter.

Right - that's it World. After five rejections in the two days following the full manuscript request I think the ego is in check. You can stop now, I don't need any more mood suppressants.

After all the fun of the week I think I need to get back to the main job in hand - finishing draft one of No Man's Land. I left it at the weekend on 82,432 and two chapters from finished. I was hoping that I would have this done by the end of the weekend coming but having had three days of not writing it that's not an option.

However I may have finally decided what to write next. I think it's likely to be the third Ben Williamson novella. For one thing it will be relatively quick to write. I have it all plotted out and the first section is even written. Add to that it will only be about 30K long, a third as long as my usual novel length. So I could aim to have it done over Christmas. The second reason is I have a publisher in mind for it and they are opening for submissions early in 2016. Seems a no brainer.

After that though - who knows? I have another plot forcing its way into my brain in addition to all of the others so... only time will tell.

Away from writing I managed to find time to watch a little TV - namely the first episode of the latest Flash/Arrow crossover 'Legends of Today'. One thing that has been apparent with both these shows of late is that they are setting up the new series coming next year Legends of Tomorrow. And I will have to take off my proverbial hat the shows' writers because neither has felt any the less for this manipulation of their plotlines to meet an outside agenda (namely setting up a new show).

This episode like the others that have introduced or brought back characters still felt relevant to the main show and entertained. Will be watching the Arrow conclusion to this part shortly and am definitely looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Three day catch up

[There is some writing news in all this rambling]

Well things have been a little odd over the last three days and it all stems from one email I received. A New York based publisher sent an email requesting the full manuscript for my YA Fantasy novel the Patternmaker's Daughter. Or to put it another way - yehay!

Now for the downside. It's not totally terrible; just that I need to make a confession and it's a little embarrassing. You see I finished the YA fantasy and tried my hardest not to do anything with it - like revise or anything. This is where the problem started. I have read a number of places that say you should give it a good gap between finishing the first draft and the revising. I think one of them may have been in Stephen King's book On Writing. Anyway I was determined not to just jump straight back in and start fiddling with it.

Si I started writing the bawdy sci-fi novel No Man's Land instead and promised myself I wouldn't get back to revising until that one was done. Did I keep that promise? Well, no. Not really. I couldn't resist. Every other evening or so before going to sleep I would read through a chapter of the print out and make a whole bunch of corrections/additions/removals etc. I kind of reasoned that because I was only doing them on paper I wasn't breaking my promise to myself.

And the other part about not sending any submissions out, well I failed on that one too. You see I did actually make some changes to the manuscript from my read through. I polished up the first three chapters and then sent out some submissions. All very naughty. I just couldn't help myself.

I'd so enjoyed writing the story of Elspeth and Antonio and desperately want to write the second book in the series so I thought I would get ahead of myself a little; head start and all that. After all most agencies so far have taken months to process my initial submissions and when they do reply so far it's almost exclusively been rejections. And yes I know I did have a full manuscript request for the political sf novel Against the Fall of Empire three and half months back but that I've felt was a blip and unlikely to be repeated.

Imagine my surprise when Monday evening saw an email requesting the full manuscript for the Patternmaker's Daughter just two weeks after I'd sent in the submission. End result is I pretty much ignored everything except twitter for a couple of days and plugged in all the revisions to the manuscript itself and readied it for submission..

Yeah, I was tempting fate I know, only having the corrections on paper and I paid the price with a couple of frenetic evenings of fixing but it is finished. I am happy with it and it has been emailed to the publisher - a New York based publisher. Did I mention they were in New York? Yeah, I kind of know I did - I just scrolled up to check. It's right there in the first paragraph proper, after my warning about rambling.

I got kind of excited about that for a while and the shine's not totally worn off yet. I'm hoping to bask in it a little while longer. Because even if they don't take it any further I have had my confidence boosted somewhat. Now two of my books have passed the first test. Two separate groups of people have read my opening chapters and synopsis and wanted to read more. That kind of tells me I might be getting something right - or at least not too horrendously wrong.

Now I am fully expected that neither of these full read throughs will turn into anything more positive or contractual so I am not building my hopes up too much. The one thing I am going to take away from this though is the thought that my writing cannot be too awful. I might just make this one day.

...

And then I read the other emails. Three of them were rejections from agencies; one for the political sf novel I mentioned above and the other two for, you guessed it, the YA fantasy novel that just moved on a step.

Well they helped keep my feet firmly on the ground I suppose.

...

Aside from that we've started to watch this Norwegian surreal comedy show called Dag. It's bizarre and we both love it. Dag is a marriage guidance counsellor who believes people are better of living alone and is a total sociopath. It's just strange in the extreme. Need to see more of it

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Weekend report (mostly writing)

Well once more a Sunday has passed me by and tomorrow the office calls. not complaining about having to work to pay things like the mortgage just that... well who wouldn't mind not having to?

Anyway I have made reasonable progress on the novel this weekend. Yesterday saw 1,889 words added, today a further 2,211 bringing the total length to 82,432 words split into 20 chapters. Considering the plan was for 22 chapters you could say I'm getting close to done.

Aside from the writing I received another rejection, this time for science fiction novel Against the Fall of Empire which brings its rejection count up to 16. Should I start taking the hint about it? Nah! I'll just have to go find some other places to send it. I still like it. I just wish that one day some of you out there might get the chance to give it a read. I can always dream, can't I?

There is one piece of advice I was given a little while ago by a published author friend. When you get a rejection send at least one more submission out. So I did. This evening I have sent out two more submissions for the YA Fantasy novel the Patternmaker's Daughter. Fingers crossed.

In one of the needed breaks from the keyboard (you know those moments in which I pretend to actually have a life) we watched the latest episode of Elementary. I've long, long been hooked on Sherlock Holmes - since first watching Basil Rathbone films with my grandfather when I was a kid in the 70s/80s when they used to run them on UK TV.

So the chance to watch a modern adaptation with Holmes in New York was one I couldn't resist when the show first aired some three years back. Fortunately I liked it. I still do. I find it a very comfortable show despite all the prickliness of the lead character and his family and I put the reason for this entirely with Lucy Liu as Joan Watson. I think she is superb in the show (as in most things) and holds the thing together for me. not to say Jonny Lee Miller is anything but great in the show but he character he's playing is hardly the most stable is he.

The latest episode featured a typical web 2.0 idea overlaying an old school crime. It was a good, thoroughly satisfying program even if it didn't scale the kind of heights other episodes have done.

Anyway, the weekend is nearly done and I want to spend the last part of it doing something other than hitting a keyboard with my fingertips. I'll do enough of that when I get to the office, and then in the evenings as I race towards the completion of draft one of my bawdy sci-fi novel No Man's Land

More tomorrow

Midway Sunday report

Today was a bit of a slow start. My wife played a gig last night and wasn't back until late. So this morning was mostly a non-event.

By the time we'd dragged ourselves out of the pit (carefully and gradually), eaten breakfast and watched the final You, Me and the Apocalypse episode it was gone midday. My previous early morning Sunday writing sessions were not going to be a feature of today.

Okay, before I get much further I guess I should say a few things about that episode and the show as a whole. For anyone who never watched I'll give you a brief précis. It's surreal. An asteroid is heading for Earth; one large enough to wipe out all life on the planet.

The story focusses on a bizarre bunch of characters, from a priest and nun in the Vatican, a bank manager in Slough, his mother and flat mate, the bank manager's previously unknown identical twin, the bank manager's missing (for seven years) wife, a wonderfully twisted and cynical rich old lady played to perfection by Diana Rigg, an American librarian imprisoned for hacking despite the fact she knows nothing about computers and a neo-Nazi fellow inmate (played by the quite brilliant Megan Mullally), her son, gay brother and his husband, a US military General. And it follows them through an incredibly convoluted story of the last month before the meteor hits Earth.

It's been a compelling show and I'm seriously disappointed that it has finished. Or at least that this season has ended. The story didn't. It just kind of stopped and it left one or two cracking cliffhangers.

Of course there is no indication of whether there will be another season so we might just have to cope with that being it. I hope not though. I want more.

Onto writing. I have, so far today, added another couple of scenes to the novel and it really is getting to the crux of things. Just as well as the word count is up to 81.4K. I'm imagining it should be done by the 90K mark. not bad when at the start of November I wasn't sure if it would reach 75K. Back them I wasn't convinced by the subplot. A little rethinking and a slightly changed storyline works perfectly. (Well I would say that, wouldn't I?)

So, that's it - apart from a comment on music. I've been ably assisted by

Flying Colors
Morphine (the band)
Blair Tefkin
Teardrop Explodes
and of course my wife playing Christmas music on her saxophone

More later

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Found some old stuff online

Some seven years ago I had my first stab at writing using the pen name I.E. Lester (hence the URL for this blog and my twitter account.

A few minutes ago I accidentally stumbled on the for from complete isfdb page for my writing back then at
http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?118820

It got me thinking. I wonder how many other pages there are back from my days as a mainly non-fiction writer between 2008 and 2010 before I set up my comics and scifi toys/memorabilia business. (It occupied so much of my time I didn't write for years.) Anyway I found a few so I thought I would compile a list of URLs

An article on Generations Starships
http://www.darkermatter.com/issue5/generation_spaceships.php

An article on Exoplanets
http://www.darkermatter.com/issue1/exoplanets.php

Short science fiction story
http://everydayweirdness.com/e/20100629/

Short comedy horror
http://everydayweirdness.com/e/20091023/

A review article covering 4 PS Publishing novellas
http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10580

A lot of short reviews on the Murky Depths website (link to menu)
http://www.murkydepths.com/reviews.php

A review article covering 3 PS Publishing titles
http://www.polutexni.com/?p=351#more-351

I'm sure there are more out there but this gives you an idea

I may have just joined the club of saddos who Google themselves. However I am trying to justify this by spinning it as Googling my writing other self, not me personally. I do not self Google on a personal basis.

First Saturday evening blog - writing+

Well, Saturday was pleasant. Met up with a couple of friends and discussed sci-fi, horror, comic books and more, Three geeks in a room - the world should be scared. Even managed a mini bit of collecting on the way, buying three books. These were

Robert J. Conley - Brass
Ursula Le Guin - Orsinian Tales
C.J. Cherryh - Faery in Shadow

Not much else to say about the day really - apart from it being a bit windy. This is the fourth storm since the UK starting naming them and this is definitely the worst from the look of the news reports from further north. There's a lot of flooding in Cumbria. You have to feel for the people whose homes are inundated with water. I know how much my home means to me. To have nature (adversely affected by us over the last decades) destroy the one place you are supposed to feel comfortable and secure must be devastating. I only hope they recover from it quickly.

Onto writing. Well, I have completed the first scene of the day. Okay being accurate I have finished the scene I started to write yesterday evening in the few short minutes I had available to me then. It ran for 646 words and actually advanced the plot a bit. I thought I'd better do some plot work as the book is up to 79,000 words so I need to think about wrapping it up.

My wife is out playing another gig tonight (private function, I cannot attend) so I have a bit of time. Going to see how far I can get with it.

More to follow

Classic Science Fiction Book Recommendations

A little while ago a friend of mine finally found his way to the joyous state of being a science fiction reader. Cue chorus of applause for him. Now he's been a reader for much of his life but stuck mostly in the realms of TV/Film tie in stuff and biographies, never venturing into the good stuff, even though he's been a lifelong science fiction/fantasy/horror fan when it comes to TV/Film/Games.

So he asked if I could give him any recommendations; oh could I? So I put together a quick list of some of the best sf stories I could think of and set him to finding them (okay, I did also pass over a few  from my dupes pile to get him going.

Anyway having just gone mad and started to tidy my office a little I found the original list so I thought I'd add a quick blog entry and list them here in case anyone else is looking for some books to go hunt up and read. Some of them are pretty obvious, some might not be. Here goes.

Arthur C. Clarke - Childhood's End / Rendezvous with Rama
Michael Moorcock - Behold the Man
Clifford Simak - City / Way Station
Ray Bradbury - Dandelion Wine / Fahrenheit 451 / Martian Chronicles
Ward Moore - Bring the Jubilee
Walter M. Miller Jr - A Canticle for Leibowitz
Frank Herbert - Dune
Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid''s Tale
Isaac Asimov - the Foundation Trilogy
Robert Charles Wilson - The Chronoliths
Daniel Keyes - Flowers for Algernon
Edmund Cooper - Five to Twelve
Lester del Rey - Police Your Planet
Robert Sheckley - The Status Civilisation
Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse 5 (and anything by the author)
Harry Harrison - Make Room! Make Room!
Roger Zelazny - Lord of Light
Alfred Bester - The Stars, My Destination / The Demolished Man
Max Barry - Jennifer Government
Carl Sagan - Contact
Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Philip K. Dick - A Scanner Darkly
Julian May - The Saga of the Pliocene Exiles / Intervention / Galactic Milieu Trilogy

If you do try any from this list, I hope you enjoy them,

Friday, 4 December 2015

Very short writing update - and a question seeking advice

Not much writing is going on tonight - been helping out with some of my wife's music. Worth it.

So I arrived home to two more rejections from agencies - one for the sf Against the Fall of Empire and one for the YA fantasy the Patternmaker's Daughter. Bugger, eh? Nice way to start the weekend. Well I've redressed the balance a little and sent off another couple of future rejections / submissions (delete as inappropriate) into the great submission pot in the aether. Fingers crossed.

I have written a few paragraphs in the bawdy scifi but nowhere near enough to really report. I will do that tomorrow when I get some decent writing time in.

I really wanted to mention a few things about the next project - to see if anyone out there feels like giving me some advice. You see I have a plethora of ideas for the next project and I'm still a little up in the air about which one I should attack first.

1 - Ben Williamson weird novella number 3.
Cons - bit specialist being a novella; even more specialist being of the weird subgenre
Pros - have an idea where I could submit it

2 - YA Urban Fantasy set in a version of 15th Century Venice
Pros - I love Venice and I think I'm not alone
Cons - likely to require a great deal of research and will take time to write

3 - The new SF idea. Bit of a Cross Time Caper (okay - that might be it's working title). Should be a bit more of an adventure sf than my previous Against the Fall of Empire. Oh, and it starts in the 1920s
Pros - light hearted action centric
Cons - the least plotted of all the ideas so far

4 - Monsterville - a comedic horror
Pros - everyone likes a funny Frankenstein
Cons - will be hard to get the humour right. Plot is proving difficult to flesh out

5 - YA SF set on a failing generations starship
Pros - seems YA SF is popular at the moment (being a little materialistic here)
Cons - not sure if it will just feel too much like all these Hunger Games/Maze Runner types

Any thoughts you have will be appreciated

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Final standings Thursday

I wrote the blog entry earlier thinking I wouldn't have much more time and that I was pretty much done creatively for the night. Then the first sentence of the next scene popped into my head so I thought I'd better type it into the document. Well it didn't stop there. In fact it just flowed out at an incredibly rapid rate. So much so I added another 830 scene and finished off chapter 19.

Here are the stats

Tonight - 1,870 words
Chapter 19 - 5,016 words
Novel - 78,332 words

That last one does include the chapter header for Chapter 20 and the first sentence of it. Yeah, that kind of came to me as soon as I'd tweeted about the chapter being over. This time however I know I need to stop for the night. It is gone 11pm and I do have to be in the office tomorrow with at least one or two of my faculties in some semblance of working order.

Only thing I have left to do is back up my files. God to go fetch flash drives and then I'll be done.

Next comes the weekend - so hopefully more of a chance for some writing. I am getting to the crux of the novel now. Yes, it does actually have a plot - even if it is buried under all the badger farts. If all goes to schedule there will be three more chapters and then I will put it aside for a while and get on with something else.

Surprisingly productive

I was late in tonight - I left work early but had a thing (wife/musician/stuff) that meant I didn't get to the keyboard until gone 8pm. On my wife's band rehearsal night this is much more normally before seven.

And then the first thing I saw was an email from a publisher I had been rather hopeful about with regards my submission. I'd sent them my weird novella the Intersection and felt it had a good chance, especially as the first email I received from them said they though the synopsis was interesting. So there was I (just two days after having sent it in) all hopeful. Until I opened the email and read it, that was.

The email said they'd enjoyed it but it wasn't what they were looking for so were going to pass. Bugger.

I did immediate react by sending them another submission - for the horror novel Mr Stinky - as they said they would gladly accept further submission and I am always someone to take such a statement at face value.

That done though I have to admit I was rather deflated. I know they say you have to develop a thick skin and incredible levels of determination to succeed in this game but every now and then it gets to you and drains you of all confidence and energy. Tonight is one of those times so I fully expected to give writing a short go, find it wasn't working and head back to the lounge to maybe watch the end of the CFL game I'd watched over dinner.

(Quick aside - I like the Canadian Football League. And I recorded a bunch of games from during the regular season to tide me over until the Baseball season starts up again)

Surprisingly though what happened when I started hitting keys is it started to flow (in a rather disturbing irreverent way but all flowing is good) and I just got on with it.

I picked out some good writing music - initially Bruce Springsteen, the Saxon (both live albums) and completed a rather lengthy scene of 999 words. So happy with that.

I'm going to start the next section now although as my wife is due back from band practice within a few minutes I probably won't get far. Anything is a victory though.

And then I'm going to start thinking of the new story idea I've had (just leapt up on my from behind and is still fighting for control of my cerebral cortex). It might be about to throw my future writing plans up in the air. It's a doozy

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Midweek madness

My novel is in an awkward place again. I know where it needs to be in a short while and I know where it needs to head after that. The only problem is this middle it. I think I have it cracked though and tomorrow night one more quick scene will have set up the end game of the whole thing. But tonight it meant it was difficult.

So much so I only managed 690 words even despite having time enough to write at least double that. Still I have written something, kept the momentum going and that's all that matters.

Here's the update
Tonight - 690
December - 1,288 (so I write more tonight than yesterday - yay)
Novel - 76,462

One more writing thing. After posting last night's blog I had a little more time than I thought so decided to send a few more submissions out; five more for the YA Fantasy the Patternmaker's Daughter to be exact.

Now, there's a lot of odd advice out there about submitting if you read all the blogs and submissions guidelines on various publishers' and agencies' websites and much of it contradicts. One I read last night suggested it was bad form to submit to both agencies and publishers and advised you stick to one and not the other, only for the next to say send it to anywhere you can find.

Then one site (I didn't submit as none of my books were in their genre wants list) said blanket sending to all is counter productive as "agents talk to each other" only for the next to recommend sending to everyone you can find who will take it. It's all rather confusing.

By the way, I'm not going to get to the end of this and say I know the perfect way to approach submitting to agencies and publishers. Mainly because I don't and I'm honest enough to admit it. I have sold a number of short stories, articles, book and film reviews over the last few years (and even two horror crosswords and a wordsearch) but I have yet to secure agency representation or a published novel/novella. In light of that what advise can I offer with any sincerity.

I'm just going to plod on, read through page after page of submission guidelines and try my best to meet the requirements these pages list well enough that the recipient will give my work a fair reading.

There are a few publishers/agents I would dearly like to submit to but can't in good conscious and this is not for any nefarious reason. I've come across some that request exclusivity with the submitted work. Now whereas I might not have a problem complying with this if I think the work is particularly suited to the market I and sending it to, all of the works I have in a sufficiently completed and revised state are already under consideration elsewhere.

The only ways I could send to the exclusivity wanted would be to lie outrageously - a problem if (miracle) one of the current submission might prove successful (hah); or, and this might just happen, write something specifically.

The second is an option for one I've seen recently. I have a hankering to write another Ben Williamson novella (or rather continue - I might have already written the first chapter). Now if I was to write this I could try out one of these exclusive submission markets. I did actually try two of them with the Intersection (also Ben W) only for neither of them to ever respond to me (even after querying them after the end of their stated "guaranteed" response times).

Of course I have to finish the current WiP - No Man's Land - first. Hoping that will be out of the way before Christmas. I have a few days/evenings coming up when my wife will be out playing gigs (mostly private Christmas parties) so might get a but of a move on with it.

On a complete aside from writing and anything to do with it - music.

I've picked up (by accident) an album by a band going under the name of Rain Tree Crow. It was a reunion project (I'm quoting Wikipedia) by members of New Wave band Japan and the album is rather good. My wife even likes it (a lot of my music taste does not correspond to hers) and thinks one of the tracks might rearrange well for her jazz band.

I was tempted to say it's not like my normal taste but as that includes Progressive Rock, Modern Jazz, Heavy Metal, Tom Waits (category all his own that guy), Frank Zappa (ditto), folk, punk, some reggae, New Wave, Blue Eyes Soul, Rhythm and Blues (60s style), Northern Soul, 60s pop, Hard Rock, Classical, Kraut Rock... I could go on.

Anyway what I'm saying is - it's good.

Right - out of time. More writing (and more blogging) tomorrow