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Showing posts from February, 2016

It's good to be back

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

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

I did that last night. I had this idea for a twist to the plot of a future novel - or rather an interrupted novel. A while ago I started writing a SF conspiracy novel called a World out of Balance. I wrote about 6.5K and then decided I wasn't happy with the plot so stop…

Absent days

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

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

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

Top 10 science fiction books (of today)

Every now and again I see a top ten or top fifty or top hundred list of something or other. And everytime I'm suckered in to reading or watching it. I seem to have a bizarre fascination with them.
Well yesterday I saw a post somewhere online that I've already forgotten listing some guy's top ten science fiction novels. I read it and agreed with precisely none of them. Not a surprise; there have been an awful lot of books. And I will say the list had some damn fine books on it; just not my pick.
So, inevitably, I started jotting down in one of my notebooks, what might make my top ten. And having done so I thought it would make sense to post the list.  Please note, this comes with a couple of provisos. I am not claiming to be an expert in SF. I might have several thousand SF books and magazines but does that make me an expert? It might do; not sure.
Secondly, if you ask me tomorrow, or next week, it might change. There would be something of an overlap - about half I'd guess…

A Lesson Learned

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

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

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

They are a small press who publisher in a range of g…

Cardinal sin

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

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

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

The reason…

Needing to pace myself - signs of getting old

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

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

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

You see my wife was getting in at around midnight, still buzzing from the show. So we'd sit and talk for a bit, waiting for the adrenaline to leave her system …

Wonderfully indulgent

This was such a good idea. I know that there were only two days left to the weekend and I could have saved my holiday but waking up gently, reading a book for a while, scribbling down notes for the opening scene of the next book I intend to write (subject to change obviously), and generally doing nothing arduous has been a great way of starting this particular Thursday.
Oh, somewhere in there I even found time to upgrade the iOS on my phone, check my email (no rejections or acceptances today), answer some tweets, check the news headlines and make my wife a coffee.
Listing all that doesn't make it sound like a quiet start but it was perfect for me.
My wife is in the middle of show week - performances of Aladdin every night with an additional matinee on Saturday and hence out all the time. So it's also good to actually get some time spent with her. I did marry her for a reason after all.
I'm hoping it will recharge the writing brain cells some too, the last couple of nights hav…

Tiredness, oh no

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

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

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

Last night I tried my hand at writing and, after a slow start, managed three new scenes in the novel. Tonight it's been even harder. I have stuck with it and the novel…

Reacting to criticism

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

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

Yes, I'm neurotic. And yes I over analyse. And no, I d…

Dress rehearsal night (this is a writing post)

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

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

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

So tonight I have made a good start on this mad writing week. I finished off chapter six of the YA Paranormal novel I'm writing adding 2,247 words. It brings the book u…

Quick update

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

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

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

It does mean I will have a lot of writing time t…

Getting older - what young people don't know

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

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

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

A busy Saturday writing wise

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

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

So I have now been writing my new YA Supernatural story for eight days. It is currently at 16,056 words. Or to put it another way I am averaging more than 2,000 words a da…

My brain and focus

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

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

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

Friday Fun and Shenanigans

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

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

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

Of course that's exactly what I did; for about fiftee…

Short writing update

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

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

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

So having read several accounts of the latest experiments I have this urge within me to write more science fiction - even an idea which features gravity. I am resisting. Partly this is beca…

Surprise writing

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

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

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

Then it will get exciting because chapter four is where the real spooky starts. Hopefully tomorrow night I…

Never afraid to offer an opinion

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

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

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

After all I can choose to read or view somethin…

Writing habits

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

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

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

I did it a few minutes ago. I headed to the kitch…

Don't tell me what happened on X-Files

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

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

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

Of course tonight's writing did come with a price. I didn't get to see the first episode…

Wishful thinking

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

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

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

Wel if I did get published and did have an agent you can bet I would be checking out the chances of writing such a tie in novel. Ideas for several of these have occurred to me …

Back writing

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

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

Mind you even if it doesn't I am currently intending to go straight into the other story - the 15th Century Venice tale as soon as this version is done to first draft (although I will admit I might head back to the four…

A new novel

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

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

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

I'm ple…

A new European Deal

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

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

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

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

Encouraged by earlier email - submissions update

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

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

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

Well, the more the merrier I guess.

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

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

Toodle pip

Thoughts on writing to order

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

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

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

The email did contain something that was hopeful. She mentioned that the market is looking for fantasy. Well I might just have a YA fantasy out these in the Patternmaker's Daught…

Science

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

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

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

Well today I am continuing my &…

I should be asleep

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

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

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

Keep it Comfortable and Then Meander

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

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

So in the last couple of days I've put the following DVDs into the player
 - Life of Brian
 - Love Actual…

The Novel is out there

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

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

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

So I opted for an evening of submissions. Out came my trusty novel submissions diary (or excel file if you want to be accurate) and I started searching for literary agents who might accept bawdy sci-fi. Well after a couple of hours of searching and reading submission guideline…

Another Rejection

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

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

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

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

Well I am not going to be put off writing by this rejection. I am going to keep going; keep writing, keep submitting and so…