Friday, December 17, 2010

Reflections: The Future

This will be my last post of 2010. I'm going to enjoy the holiday season with my kids, my mother and my friends.

I don't know what next year will bring, no-one does. All I know is that it will be a happier one for me.

I have my own place which I share with my son and next year we'll settle in even more and try to get know the neighbours.

I'm looking forward to expanding my writing. I have spent most of the year writing book reviews for Hub and will try and get published in other ways and in other places.

Next summer I will take over the vice-chair role of the drama group and I'm looking forward to taking part in the two planned plays: A Chorus Of Disapproval and Dancing at Lunaghsa.

In the new year I shall return to my abstract art. There are a couple of pictures I've been working on that I want to finish and a few ideas I want to try out.

I also have some ideas for videos that I want to make. Two are based around songs and one is a comedy that I will need my son's help with. One of the songs will require me to do some line pictures.

I also want to start keeping a book of comedy routines with a view to using them on Britain's Got Talent, or just for my own amusement. I may make some stand-up comedy videos using them.

How much of this will come to pass I don't know, but I have plans.

Have a great Christmas and I'll see you in the new year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reflections: Keeping Focus

As in life, writers must keep their focus on what needs to be done and ignore the siren calls from the things that want to be done.

As I head toward the end of the year I am thinking about what I want to do next year.  Is there anything in my life that doesn't need to be there?  Over the last two years I haven't had much time to attend my writer's group due to being on stage so much.  Sad to say I haven't missed it that much either.  I'll have to give it some more thought over the holiday period and see what I think in the new year.

This may appear to be a backward step in terms of writing, we all need to have someone knowledgeable to cast an eye over our writing.  But what if you're not getting that eye?

I haven't submitted anything to the group for a while due to the plays, nor have I written much.  I have to be honest and say that part of the reason for me not writing is the less than stable year I've had.  Will it be better next year?  I don't know, which is why I hesitate to step away from the group.  I do know that I will not be stepping away from acting and if it comes to a straight choice, then the group will go.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reflections: Lessons From Acting

First night of the panto...and boy was it fun.

We all missed lines, but that was even funnier.  I got a headache after being hit on the head so much.  One of our twins was sick so one of the cast doubled up.  None of us sung in tune.

We had had nearly 40 people in the audience, although we only expected 15, and they were superb.  Joining in with the songs, booing and hissing at me and, sadly, cheering the hero.


There are some cast members missing from this photo and with all the sets and props the stage is now a bit smaller.  You can imagine how cramped it is at the end.

Having been in four plays in the last 18 months I have to say that being part of this group has done me the world of good.  I have had something else to focus on rather than my divorce and the search for a home, something positive.  The best lesson, among many, that I have learned from acting with this group is that sometimes things go wrong that are not your fault.  You still suffer from them, you still have to fix it, but it isn't your fault.

Last night, the actor playing one of the twins pulled out due to sickness.  No fault of his or the cast's, but we all had to fix it, and we did.  Whether or not he gets there tonight we don't know, but the woman playing Marguerite (Yellow dress on the left had side) stepped in and is now playing both roles.

After years of being told that everything was my fault, it's a refreshing lesson.

What have you learned this year?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Reflections On Life

Yesterday I attended a funeral for someone I've never met.  His wife had only seen me once and that was when I was three weeks old: and probably asleep.

The man was my mother's uncle, Tommy Atkins, aged 97.  He and his wife, Pearl, had been married for 69 years and lived in the same house for 67 of those years.  In his time he'd been a merchant seaman and a firefighter in WW2.

It was Pearl's wish that we did not commiserate, but celebrate his life.  So we did.

Although I had never met any of the people before, including two of my mother's cousins, I did two of the things I do best:  I listened and drank tea.

Tommy was a remarkable man.  Still driving until a few years ago and still doing DIY until his late 80s.  He must have had some harrowing experiences during the war, trying to put out fires whilst bombs were falling.  As for his experiences at sea and in ports around the world, I can only guess at what he saw.

His memories died with him, but the memory of the man didn't.  It will live on in those who knew him well and in the stories that will be told for a number of years by his family.

One day that will happen to me and this year I have begun to see that I probably have less life in front of me than behind me.  If I live till I'm 70, 23 years left.  That's long enough.

As I sat through the service and listened to the songs that had been chosen (Heart of Glass by Blondie being one of them) I wondered what song I would like to be 'my' theme tune.  The song I keep coming back to is 'One More Arrow', by Elton John.  I don't know how people will remember me, this is how I hope people will remember me.

....................................



....................................

He said I want to grow up
And look like Robert Mitchum
And I hope that when I'm gone
There'll be some say that I miss him
He must have been romantic
He must have sensed adventure
And I feel the steel of his strong will
In the frame around his picture
 
And he's one more arrow flying through the air
One more arrow landing in a shady spot somewhere
Where the days and nights blend into one
And he can always feel the sun
Through the soft brown earth that holds him
Forever always young
 
He could have been a boxer
But the fight game seemed so dirty
We argued once he knocked me down
And he cried when he thought he'd hurt me
Strictly from the old school
He was quiet about his pain
And if one in ten could be that brave
I would never hate again
 
One more arrow
One more arrow
One more arrow
Forever always young
 
 
.

Friday, December 03, 2010

More Reflections On The Past Year

I sent off another book review yesterday and got a response within a few hours.  That is not always the case.

There are times in every writer's life when there are no phone calls, no emails and no letters.  Sometimes it can be weeks or months before you hear anything.  With the book reviews for Hub, most of the time I hear within a day or two, but sometimes it takes longer.

In the summer, I hadn't heard from them from for a few weeks.  When the website went down I thought that it had gone out of business.  A week later I received an email apologising for the delay and an explanation.  Too busy and the ISP was giving them grief.

I took heart from that, because sometimes in publishing it's not you that's at fault, but the publisher or some other agency.  Never give up trying.

On other news, we had our final rehearsal last night.  On Sunday we have a technical walk through, then two dress rehearsals on Monday and Tuesday.  Thursday is the opening night.  EEEEK! I have my maniacal laugh fully prepared, my evil look and my creepiness.  I will also partly shave my beard on Thursday to give the mutton chops my character needs to look all Victorian.

As it's Friday, here's the link to Oddbox.  Fantastic Ice sculptures and a dog that likes to eat microphones.  Oh, and a lawn mower that doubles up as a boat.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Another Year Nearly Gone

Things are finally settling down in my life.  I know this because I did my first lot of ironing for several months today. 

Before today I just couldn't work up the energy and wore scruffy stuff that, being a bloke, I could get away with.  I've also got onto changing my address with several companies and on my driving license as I now have a place of my own.

After over a year of sleeping on sofas and with most of my money problems, the severe ones, behind me, I'm looking forward to next year.

About the only thing that has kept me sane over this period has been acting in an amateur drama group.

So, as 2010 winds down, I'm going to reflect on the past year over the next few weeks.

To start with, it's been a good year for my writing.  I haven't done much on my novel, or written any short stories, but I have been writing a lot of book reviews.  Last December I submitted some to Hub Magazine and after a few of them were published, they asked me to become one of their in-house reviewers.  I've had several books sent my way and have reviewed them all, to the point where I am considered one of the more reliable ones.  I've also been asked to review a couple of TV programs for them.

This, I think, has given me a platform from which I can carry on next year with other writing.  Hopefully, I can get a short story or two published in Hub, but if not, the fact of being published will certainly help when I submit elsewhere, or if I finish my novel and start ending it off to agents or publishers.

What's your year been like?

Friday, November 26, 2010

MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Three more rehearsals, one dress rehearsal and then we're performing for a paying audience: YIKES!

The star has to be the young lady playing Robin Hood.  Pavlina's from the Czech Republic, English is her second language and she has a major role in the play.  Would you like to perform on stage in a foreign country, speaking in a foreign language, learning to talk in rhyme?

My eldest son is taking to his role as the dog with gusto.  Chasing the villains and biting them; peeing on another one; whimpering and barking.  He hasn't had this much since he accidentally scalded me by turning the cold tap on when I was in the shower.

As for me, I'm having a whale of a time swishing my cloak, flashing my sword, being whacked on the head and being generally evil.


And, as it's Friday, here's the link to the BBC's Oddbox.  Ten odd things from the past week, including a very small police dog, the tallest married couple in the world and the worlds biggest custard cream.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Phew

OK, we're still having some problems, but we're almost there.

Rehearsals are going well, despite the odd missing person, and we only need to stitch it all together.  Me knowing all my lines might help too.

The best thing about it is how everyone in the cast mucks in to help.  Reading lines for absentees, prompting where necessary, picking up dropped props and making the tea when not on stage practising.

I'm also looking forward to singing on stage for the first time in years...though I'm not sure what the audience will think.

Here's the youtube ad for the panto.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Looking Up.

We had a rehearsal this morning, going through the rest of Act 1.  There were still a couple of people missing (one ill and one in the Czech Republic), but we finished off what we needed to do and now know where we should be standing.  I also got to practice my sword fight...using a feather duster.

The first fight scene is towards the end of Act 1 and I decided that I should pull out a feather duster first, stare at it, then throw it away before pulling out my real sword.  Other options include a rubber chicken and a light sabre, but I'm open to other suggestions (feel free to add any in the comments section).

Getting things right can be a painful process as you realise what works  and what doesn't.  We've dropped one song, cut another short, changed various lines.  In the previous play we cut whole pages and two characters.

It's the same with writing.  We have a wonderful idea, which then doesn't work.  The best thing to do is to cut it.

One last thing, have a look at this collection of strange events, then look at your WIP: Are the events in your WIP any stranger than these?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brown Trousers Time

We have less than a month till the play has its first night...and we still haven't had the full cast together more than once.

The play WILL go ahead on 9th-11th December, partly because the hall is booked through the whole of January.  However, we are going to have some Saturday rehearsals and go through the vital scenes.

You may think that all scenes are vital, and you'd be partly correct.  Some scenes are more important than others, not necessarily because they carry the story, but, in this case at least, because they contain the slapstick humour.  Get it wrong and you end up with a fleet of ambulances outside.

We have a plank of wood (made out of polystyrene) several sword fights and a few people (including me) getting hit on the head with wooden objects.  Add to that people falling all over the place and you need to get it right.

Learning words is easy by comparison.

Watch this space.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Peace At Last

I'm slowly settling into my new flat and today is the most peaceful day since I've been here.  It's not quiet as I have all the boys here, but it is a place of peace.

So, a quick question for you, what brings you peace?

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yeeuck.

I've been feeling a little ill the past few days.  A heavy cold, depression etc.  The fact that it has been grey outside and wet hasn't helped my mood much either.  Still, it has got to the dry stage now so I need fewer tissues.

The illness didn't help me much on Monday as I had to go through a new scene for the play.  I was meant to know the words but it was too much effort.  I found out that I wasn't alone and only two people knew their words.  One had two words and one had four.

The worst part was getting hit on the head three times in succession and having to collapse to the floor.  It made me dizzy and the room started spinning (not a good sign).  Thankfully we only did the scene twice.

Tomorrow we run through the whole of Act 1, no books and all the props we can find.  It means I can leave the word learning till the weekend.

I also have a new book to review: The Terror and the Tortoiseshell by John Travis, courtesy of those LOVELY people at Hub Magazine.  I'll let you know when it gets published.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

14 Questions....

Right...I nicked (stole) this from KLo, who nicked (stole) it from someone else etc.  Feel free to nick (steal) it from me.

.......................................

1. What do you consider your hometown to be?
Stevenage, Hertfordshire.  Though I was born in London, I hate the place.  It's dirty, smelly and horrible. 

2. What’s the hardest part of your average day?
Getting out of bed.

3. The easiest? Why?
At the moment, nothing.  Depression does that to you.

4. What beverage do you reach for to quench your thirst?
Water.  Don't like to drink sugary drinks too often, or tea.

5. What is one not-so-secret goal you have for your life? I’ll let you keep your secret ones to yourself.
To be an actor or novelist.

6. What physical pain do you fear most? For example, I’m trying to decide how bad my jaw pain needs to get before I risk a potential needle from my dentist. So, for me, throbbing is preferable to jabbing.
Needles.  Small pain, big fear.

7. Where do you find solace?
Asleep in dreams.

8. What makes you the saddest when you read/see the news?
The thought that wealthy people are getting wealthier on the backs on others.

9. What do you eat for a favorite snack?
Bananas or toast.

10. What movie(s) could you/would you watch more than two or three times and still enjoy just as much as the first time?
Quite a few.  Men In Black, Star Wars, Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean, Naked Gun, anything by Pixar

11. What boy/girl first made you cry?
In love, my ex-wife when I had to file the divorce papers. Before that, those kids that made my life hell at school.

12. What brand of coffee/tea do you drink most often?
Tea: anything that's warm, wet and brown.

13. Dig in the dirt with or without garden gloves?
Gloves...if you ever get me out in the garden in the first place.  I'm not a nature person..

14. James Taylor or Carly Simon?
Who?

.............................

Enjoy.

Friday, November 05, 2010

And Now, The End Is Near...Of The Week That Is.

As the weekend is here, it's time to ask a pertinent question or two.

Do you take the weekend off from writing, or any time off?  If not, why not?

During WW2, the British government instituted a seven day working week in order to produce more war materials, believing that it would increase production.  It had the opposite effect and reduced it, so the policy was soon abandoned.

If we don't take time out from writing, or anything for that matter, our production will suffer.  Either our writing will get worse, or our lives will.

It's the weekend: Chill.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

More Babes.

Now that the title has grabbed the attention of every male under 30, I'll tell you about last night's rehearsal of 'Babes In The Wood'.

It didn't go well.

The rehearsal was planned to be a complete run through of Part 1 without books. It ended up bitty, unstructured and, for me at least, a little frustrating.  However, you get nights like that and have to accept that not everything goes to plan. 

On the plus side, every member of the cast showed up and most people knew most of their lines.

One of the actresses showed up despite suffering some severe neck pain after a car crash a few weeks ago and needed to leave early because of it.  So we did her parts first. 

Having set my mind on not being needed for the first half hour, it threw me a little when called upon and consequently I was unprepared for the run through and forgot a lot of the lines.  C'est la vie.

At one point early on in the pantomime, I do a little song and dance with the other two evil characters.  As this was not going to get done last night, we disappeared into another room and ran through it, ironing out all the little bugs.  We're now almost perfect...in our opinion anyway.

So, despite the problems, we got a lot done.  I'm now molesting only one woman, and just being creepy to the other one (the lady with the bad neck) instead of molesting them both.  Ah well, you can't have everything.

The molestee does get to kick me to the floor though and I'm sure she's enjoying that more than she should.  I also know the nurse is enjoying hitting me with a rolling pin and the dog enjoys biting my bum.

All of this reminded me that, on occasions, I have the same problem with writing.  Nothing goes to plan and I only get a little bit done here and there.  I also realised that it doesn't matter if that happens, because I still get some things done...like my blog a day later than planned. 

Every achievement, however small, is worth a smile of satisfaction.

Have a great day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rest and Relaxation...I Hope

The weekend is here, and with comes the hope of some R&R.  Hope.

I'm taking the boys into town tomorrow morning for the usual bun and fun.  After that, the two eldest will go up to Royston to spend time with some friends, and the youngest will go back to his mum's.  Providing that nothing comes up, I intend to spend the whole of Saturday doing as little as possible.  I think I've earned it after putting up curtain rails, curtains, moving a washing machine (that doesn't work yet), replacing a tyre (gotta get the other one fixed), tidying up the front room and my bedroom, cooking, cleaning the kitchen etc etc.

I am also going to have a beer tonight...after talking to a friend in need.

Sunday, the two eldest will be going up to Royston again and my mother and aunt will be coming over for afternoon tea (how very English).

R&R...what are you doing?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Sorting Hat...

...is desperately needed.

I have the rooms in the flat just about organised and know where things will go.  All I have to do now is put the stuff away.

My two youngest went back to their mum's place today, neither of whom were looking forward to it.  They have both enjoyed staying here and I've enjoyed having them here.  Still, they'll be back for the weekend after next.

It does mean that I can get things into their proper place and sort out the storeroom, but...a house is not a home without people and I miss them.

.............................

Now that I have things semi-organised In can get back to my writing.  I'll post a picture of the 'office space' when I've finished tidying things up.

The novel has been in abeyance for some time so that will need some extra work.  Having had the break does mean that I can look at it with fresh eyes and see what I've missed out and what needs to be changed.  I also know that I won't have to move again for the foreseeable future and can concentrate without looking over my shoulder, wondering how long I'll be here.

The play rehearsals are moving along nicely.  On Monday we had no director and got a lot of work done on Act 1, which I am sure is nothing more than a coincidence.  Little John turned up as did Marguerite and we have a definite for the male babe.  By chance, he also attends the same college as my son, doing a drama course that a friend's daughter is doing.

Some times you realise how small the world is and how much we are connected.

Another directorless rehearsal on Thursday and then he's back from Bath next week, by which time we will ALL be word perfect for Act 1...maybe.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where Have I Been?

As you can tell, I've not been blogging for a while.  But, I do have some good reasons.

1. Preparing for and moving home.  I am now in my own flat after sleeping on my mother's sofa for most of the last 18 months.  It's huge, needed decorating and is now (almost) fully finished.
2. Two mini nervous breakdowns, one of which nearly resulted in another suicide attempt.
3. Writing book reviews, a number of which have been published in hub magazine.
4. Rehearsing the latest production by KATS: Babes In The Wood.  I get to play the evil Baron, MWAHAHAHAHAHA!  I'm told it's typecasting and I don't need to do much acting, but I can't think what they mean.

Hopefully, now that I've moved and have moved on from the breakdowns, I can continue this blog.

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The second reason listed above, along with a phone call last weekend, has caused me to think about suicide a lot, though not in the sense of trying to kill myself.

Last Sunday I called an old friend who is also at the end of her tether.  As we spoke, she was taking paracetamol and trying to end her life.  She felt that she had nothing left to live for.  Her 11 year old daughter was wondering what was going on, but eventually my friend realised that she couldn't carry on in front of her daughter.

It got me thinking about the two types of suicide: wanting to die and not wanting to live. On the face of it, they are both the same, but there is a subtle difference between them. 

If you want to die, there is not much anyone can do to stop you.  There will be no reasons for life that will prevent you from trying to kill yourself.

If, however, you have run out of reasons to live, and this is the most common reason behind suicides, a little hope will stop you in your tracks.  Neither my friend or I were prevented from the attempt by the existence of our children.  In both cases, we thought that the kids would be better off if we died.  Instead of watching us suffer what seemed like an endlessly tormented life, they would be able to mourn us, move on and live their own lives without having to carry us with them.

In a twisted way, we thought we were doing it for their benefit. Once we found a reason, however, small, we stopped. It wasn't anything large, just a spark of hope.

I don't know all the statistics on suicide, but from my own experience, my attempts and those of several others who have survived, it's the lack of hope that kills.  Without hope, you have no reason to carry on.

It is no coincidence that Paul lists Hope along with Love, for it is vital to life.

If you know anyone who is feeling miserable and doesn't know what to do next, spend time with them.  Make them some tea or coffee, help with the washing up, listen to them.  Don't give answers or try and fix it for them: you can't, only they can fix their lives.  They need someone willing to spend some time listening and helping. 

Your presence as a friend is the best hope you can give.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dreams and Things

I don't know about you, but I get some weird dreams sometimes...and remember them.

The other night I dreamt that I was shopping for shoes (I don't know why either).  In fact, I was shopping and saw a sale on in a shoe shop.  As that's how I normally get my shoes (I'm a size 7 and there's always loads left at the end of a season) that part of the dream is normal.

I selected two pairs that I was really pleased with.  At least I was pleased in the dream, if I'd seen them in real life I would have given the shoe shop and VERY wide berth.

The assistant went to get the left shoe and discovered that they didn't have it for either pair, so I had to go without.

Now why would I dream that?  Easy.

I shall be moving into a new flat (apartment) in the next couple of weeks and for me it's an ideal place.  Two large bedrooms, a storage room that's bigger than most modern bedrooms and a decent view.  It's also in Stevenage Old Town and near the hospital (I'm a little accident prone).

My big fear, is that someone will take this away from me, especially as I've been sleeping on sofa's for the last 18 months.  I also have this voice in the back of my head that I'm not worth it.

There are similar fears with my writing that, no doubt, all writers face.  Am I good enough?  Is my writing good enough?  Will the agent like me?  Will that big shiny contract be taken away at the last moment when the market suddenly shifts?  Will my agent go bust before I've even signed a contract?

What I tell myself is that I am worth these things and, even if I'm not a good enough writer yet, I will improve with time. All of which is hard after a lifetime of being abused and thinking that I am not worth it.

My dreams highlight fears and sometimes give me answers.

They can also provide some cracking story ideas.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ebooks Will Kill Print...Don't Make Me Laugh

There is a lot of debate about ebooks killing off the printed word and several people have already predicted its end date.  They are wrong.

I was initially responding to a post at the Literary Lab when I got to thinking about how unlikely this death is to happen.

The three reasons I gave were that Hardbacks weren't killed off by paperbacks, home taping didn't kill music and the internet didn't kill off the postal service.  There are, naturally, many more examples that I, and you, can think of.

The problem, as I see it, is that printed books are just too useful.  Forget the feeling of holding a book and the smell of the paper.  That's just for anoraks/nerds/geeks/freaks (delete as appropriate) like me.  For the vast majority of people, a book is a simple piece of technology that can be taken anywhere.

- Ereaders need power to function, usually in the form of batteries.  A book doesn't.
- Ereaders need to boot up before they can be used.  A book doesn't.
- Ereaders give too much choice of reading material.  A book doesn't.

The question is not whether ereaders will replace books, but whether ereaders will last at all.

Other technology could give us a clue:  DVDs and mp3s.  Despite Apple's best efforts, they haven't got a monopoly on downloaded music and now that Amazon are selling unrestricted mp3s, that market may well dry up completely.  Mp3s can be played on any compatible player, a number of which can be bought cheaply.  You can play mp3s on your phone or your computer too.  With a little wizadry, you can get them to play via your stereo system.

DVDs are region restricted, but you can play them on any DVD player in that region.  You can get regionless DVD players as well, not forgetting that BluRay players can play DVDs as can computers.

Both mp3s and DVDS are portable and so are printed books.  The books for ereaders aren't.

The music industry and games industry have found out the hard way that using Digital Rights Software is only going to cause trouble for the honest and be cracked by the dishonest.  Microsoft, meanwhile, are learning that proprietary software is going by the wayside, as their office software and internet explorer are being used less frequently by individuals and businesses, whilst Windows is being replaced in some areas by Linux.

The other problem with ereaders is economics.  A lost or broken book can be replaced relatively cheaply.  What happens to your library if your ereader breaks?  Are Sony and Amazon going to replace it all free of charge? When technology passes your current ereader by, will you be able to transfer your digital library to something else?

A cautionary tale comes from the 1980s.  The British historian Michael Wood was at the head of a research project to compile a modern Doomsday Book.  They decided to use a computer and the System they chose was the BBC Micro as it was widely used in schools and universities.  Ten years later they started a campaign to save this data as the BBC Micro had been usurped by Windows and the project was in danger of being lost.

Could the same thing happen to the software on the Kindle and Sony products?

The way forward for Electronic Publishing could be something as simple as the humble PDF.  The PDF is a file format designed by Adobe and made freely available for anyone to use.  It is second only to Word in its ubiquitousness on our computers and in the number of documents sent via email.  In many ways it is the document equivalent of the mp3. 

If you download a PDF book you can take it anywhere and put it on as many devices as you like as well as have a backup up copy. 

There will be the inevitable cries from the publishing industry that they will lose money as people will just email them around the world.  Aside from slandering the entirety of humanity, it also fails to account for second hand bookstores.  Charity shops sell plenty of books, with not a penny going to the author or the publisher.  Some of these books are sold several times before being finally binned.  The difference between this and passing round a PDF is...?

The vast bulk of humanity are honest enough to want to pay someone properly for a job well done, that's why they leave tips.  Ereaders are not the way forward or as pliant as the publishers (and the manufacturers) would have us believe, but are an expensive way to build a llibrary and read books.

All these reasons, in my opinion, are why ereaders will never replace the printed word.


.

Monday, August 23, 2010

True Friendship is...

There are many definitions of true friendship and all are wonderful and correct.  For me, one of the best is:

True friendship is when you can share the silence.

I love this one as it shows friendship as a totally comfortable experience where you can be yourself and not have to keep people amused all the time.

On another note, Hub have issued another magazine which I have two (yes TWO) reviews published.  One of which is positive (about the book 'Changes'), and one negative (about the DVD of Starhyke).

World domination of literature is a step closer.

.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Good or Bad?

I was in Wales last weekend staying with an old friend.  Whilst there, we watched some TV together (sharing silence has never been a problem for us) and one of the programs was called 'How To Look Good Naked'. 

My initial reaction was that this was yet another sign of declining standards in broadcasting and a bit of soft porn.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Instead of a catwalk full of size 0 models, the women were all normal and came in all shapes and sizes: well, mostly.  I didn't see a single woman who was less than a size 14, so it wasn't ALL shapes and sizes, just all the larger ones.

The women who volunteered all had a low opinion of themselves and how they looked.  By the end of the program, Gok Wan (who has to run Dale Winton close for the gayest man on TV) had dressed them well, had them pose naked in a shop window (not boobs or genitalia showing, just bare backs and bums) and then had them parade on a catwalk in some sexy underwear, stripping off just before they walked off for the last time.

None of the women were forced to do it and some of them backed out of the stripping on the catwalk, but the transformation in their attitude to themselves was glorious to behold.

They were all shown models of different bodies and asked where they would put themselves in terms of size and they were ALL wrong, rating themselves too fat or big.  One women who thought her chest was something to hide, thought that a set of plaster boobs looked great only to find out that they were the same size as hers.

Sadly, we live in a world where unless you have the right shape, bank balance, job or car, you are considered not worth a damn.  And then they wonder why those of us who aren't normal have no confidence and prefer to stay indoors and play on the computer.

'How To Look Good naked' shows us that we are all normal.  More power to that attitude.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Oddbox...Again. And Some Other News.

I've been a bit erratic with this blog recently....so why stop now.

Here's the weekly bit of odd news that really SHOULD be in the main news programs to give balance to their reporting of all the world's misery.  Yes, it's Oddbox.

Whilst I'm on the subject of odd things, I received some great news over the weekend.  No, I haven't had a novel accepted, I have been cast as the evil villain in KATS production of 'Babes In the Wood'.

I'm looking forward to being horrible, nasty, evil, viscous, mean, cruel and rotten.  And that's just for starters.

Enjoy your day.

.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Saturday Quickie

For those of you who don't follow Nathan Bransford's Blog (and if not, why not), he linked to this gem on the five stages of querying.

Have fun.


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A.D.O.L.A.B

Ever sat down to do something and been distracted?  Ever wanted to get on with a job and got lost in your thoughts?  You may have ADOLAB.

This a recently diagnosed condition that seems to affect writers more than any other group, though it has been known to hit other creative people.  What does the acronym stand for?

- Attention Deficit Oooh, Look A Butterfly...

It happens when you sit down to work on your latest novel or short story and you get distracted.  It can be something in a garden, the bath that you remember has to be cleaned, or the cat litter tray that needs de-odourising.  Anything that distracts you from the task at hand: writing.

Research shows that teenagers suffer from a similar condition, ADYHM (Attention Deficit You Hate Me) when they are approached by their parents to help around the house.

It may not afflict you, but be aware of the signs, for tomorrow you too may suddenly find the urge to write has been replaced by a desire to clean the house.


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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blame

I've been reading a book called The First Blitz.  It's a history of the German bombing of Britain in WW1 and it reminded me of the following poem.

.........................

Blame not the soldiers and sailors
Blame not the airmen in the sky
Blame only the men and the women
Who send others out to die.

........................


.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Did You Learn This Weekend?

Over the weekend I learnt (or relearnt) several things.

1 - Kangaroo farts don't contain methane.

2 - When the aircraft were banned from the sky after 9/11 ground temperatures in the US increased by 2 degrees.

3 - Good friends are still glad to see you or hear from you, even if you haven't spoken for over a decade.

4 - Expensive solutions are always preferred to cheap ones, even if the cheap ones work just as well...or better.

5 - I like odd things.

6 - I like listing things in numbered order.

7 - Even the best actors can be in terrible films/programs and not perform well.

8 - I can still beat my kids at chess.

9 - If you don't start things, you'll never finish them.

10 - Making lists is an easy way to write a blog.

Now it's your turn.


.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Driving Behind Lorries

One of my pet hates is being behind a lorry, van or other large vehicle. It's not because they are slow, though they usually are, or because they throw out diesel fumes that leave me coughing and pulling weird faces in disgust. It's because I can't see round them.

When I'm behind these monsters, the road ahead is invisible to me, so I get impatient and try my best to overtake the vehicle.  It becomes the most important thing in the world to be in front of 'that thing', even if it's doing a respectable speed.

Why? Like a lot of people I don't appreciate not knowing what lies ahead. I want to know what I'm doing next week, next month, next year. I want to see the futurre clearly so I need not worry about it (or so I can REALLY worry about it). I want to know where my next wage cheque is coming from, where my children will be in the future and if they'll be safe.

I can't know these things so I, like a lot of other people, take control of what I can.  When I overtake the lorry I can see the road, but I can't change the road and I still can't see what's over the horizon or round the next bend.

For now, I am going to stop overtaking vehicles that go at a decent speed and keep back from them so I don't choke on their fumes. I shall calm down, concentrate on what's more improtant and live a good life, instead of obsessing on a future I cannot change and, mostly, cannot influence.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Low Days

We all get low days, sometimes lower than others and yesterday was one of mine.

I was typing, listening to MP3s and wondering 'what's the point' when a song serendipitously played. The song is called Together My Friend, and was written by a friend of mine, Sonia King, over 20 years ago. I've printed the lyrics below so they can give you a lift too.

She has her own website dedicated to her music now and four albums to her name, but I don't think she's ever bettered this song.

-----------------------------------------------

When life gets hard,
and the mountains seem high,
When you're weary,
you may want to give up and die.
Just remember what God has promised
to those who would endure.

Don't give up now my friend,
you have made it this far.
In the morning look up, see a bright morning star -
a new beginning - a brand new start.

Together we'll walk on through this life.
and help each other along the path,
with the Word of Truth
as a lamp shining brightly
through the night.

When the mountains are high
you must keep on climbing.
Keep the goal in sight,
a new day is dawning.
Press on towards the high calling;
the prize and the mark!

Yes when life gets you down and you feel all alone,
when you're crying and sad I just want you to know,
and remember - what God has promised
to those who would endure.

Time is short now my friend, we don't have very long
to prepare in our lives a foundation that's strong, -
to start over - to change a world gone wrong.

When life gets you down.
When mountains get higher -
Just remember - the future is brighter.

When life gets you down,
Never think of dying
only - fighting - to the very end
and together my friend, we will have made it.

When you've come to the end of the race
then you've won.
God's promise of grace will then speedily come
for enduring - to the end of your life which you've done.

So carry on and be courageous!
We will be strong through all the trials
which each one faces.
When life gets hard and the mountains are hard to climb.
So walk on - until the crown of life is won!

Together we - will walk in peace - in harmony & love.

(copyright Sonia King 1987)

---------------------------------------------------

Enjoy the day.


 .

Monday, July 05, 2010

Top Ten Books

If you had to pick ten books that had the biggest influence on you, what would they be?

It's a question that I've pondered since reading Boudica's blog on the subject, and working on the assumption that if I can't remember it then it didn't, I have come up with this list.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.  To this day I don't why this book left an impact on me, but since I read it as a teenager, the story of Okonkwo has always been in my mind.
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.  I don't often cry, but this series brought floods of tears for reasons that I only discovered whilst reading book 6.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  Another book that has stuck with me for reasons that I'm not sure about.
Freakonomics/Superfreakonomics by Levitt & Dubner.  Two economics books that make sense.
Medieval Lives/Barbarians by Terry Jones.  Proper history about proper people told with humour that explode more than a few myths.
The Complete Robot by Isaac Asimov.  Fantastic stories about our mechanical friends.
Seeds of Change: Six plants that transformed mankind by Henry Hobhouse.  I find it amazing how the world turns on such small events.
Islands in the Sky by Arthur C Clarke.  The first SF book I read.
On Writing by Stephen King. The best advice on writing out there.
Space Captain Smith Trilogy by Toby Frost.  Funny.  Just funny.


So that's my list.  Ask me again in a few years time and it may have changed as other books make an impact.  What does your list look like?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It Crossed the Line

England are out of the World Cup.  As usual, it's the referees fault and nothing to do with our footballers not being good enough or the English way of playing being outdated.


It's all elegantly summed up in the following song.  Listen, enjoy and laugh at us. 



One last thing, we only have Andy Murray if we make him British instead of Scottish.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Updating the Past

Some songs and Rhymes date as our life and culture moves on.  How would they sound if they were written today?

Hole in my bucket

There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Then go to the DIY store and buy a new one.

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Had scrambled egg for breakfast again.

We'll Meet Again

We'll meet again,
on facebook and twitter

Feel free to add your own...and if you're really lucky, I may record these ditties for you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Take A Chance On Me

As writers, we want to be published.  More importantly, we want people to take a chance on our tome and actually buy it.

But here's the rub: how many new authors have you taken a chance on in the last few years?  The website '101 reasons to stop writing' has as its number 1 reason, 'You Don't Buy Books'.  Let's face it, if we as potential authors are not willing to take a chance on unknowns, why should we expect people to take a chance on us.

So here's a question for us all to consider.  Can you list the new authors you've taken a chance on in the last few years?  If you can name even one, pat yourself on the back.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What I'm Going To Ask God

When I die, I have a few questions that I'm going to ask God.

1. Why are we biased to one side or other of our bodies?  I'm right handed, but why can't I write as well with my left, or kick a ball as well with my left foot?

2. Why do children only copy their parent's bad points?

3. What's the point of mayflies?

4. Why is the fastest speed in the universe the speed of light?

5. Why don't women go bald?

What would you like to ask God?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup Songs

If, like me, you've been following the world cup and support England, then you will not be happy at the moment.

But there is still some joy to be had as the French are out and a man called Dave Henson has written a little song about it to cheer the hearts of every fan of England.



Enjoy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reading List

It's Friday and I'm feeling lazy, but not so lazy that I haven't written anything.

I've completed and sent off a review of Star Trek TOS remastered as well as reworked chapter two of my novel and am very happy with what's going on.  I've also replotted it for the comedy it now is.

Now I am just going to pile into my reading list which is:

- The Portable Door by Tom Holt
- Clean: An unsanitised history of washing by Katherine Ashenburg
- The Age of Absurdity: Why modern life makes it hard to be happy by Michael Foley
- Prospect and Christian Writer magazines

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book Review: The Spartacus War

The Spartacus War
by Barry Strauss

This is a history book.  Unlike a lot of history books, this is not an information dump, but a well written analysis of a historical event that most people know about: if only because of Kirk Douglas.

The sources are scant and sometimes contradictory, but Strauss weaves his way through them to produce a informed account of the two year slave revolt.  Sometimes it's educated guesswork, but for the most part this is the true tale of Spartacus, his revolt and his death.

One of the surprises is how much the film got right.  It shouldn't come as a surprise to find out that the ending scene with everyone claiming to be Spartacus is unlikely to be true.  It may surprise you that the pirates who double-crossed Spartacus were real.  Crassus, as played by Laurence Olivier, was that cruel and Spartacus did have a woman in tow, but was unlikely to have been as simpering as Jean Simmons.

It packs a lot of information into 189 pages and, unlike a lot of history books, does not ramble on about unnecessary things.

Spartacus comes out of the story as a flawed hero and we get to see Roman Italy in a truer light than we are used to. 

All in all, a highly recommended book, and not just for people interested in Ancient history.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Review: Hector and The Search For Happiness

This is, according to the book blurb, an international bestseller, having shifted over 2 million copies worldwide.  It was originally written in French by Francois Lelord, and this an English translation.

Though this is a work of fiction, the author is a psychiatrist and it has the feel of a self-help book, but is none the worse for that.  It is also written in a child-like style that adds to its charm rather than detracts.  In fact I can't find anything bad to write about this book, so I'm not going to make anything up just for the sake of 'balance'.

I liked it.  It's short, concise, well-written and thought-provoking.  It is more of a novella than a novel, so won't take too long to read, but is full of episodes that make you think about what it means to be happy. 

As Hector goes on his travels he meets a monk, some old friends and a prostitute.  He also gets involved with drug dealers, aid workers and gets kidnapped by accident  (You gotta read that bit).  There are times when you will want to cry, times when you will want to laugh.

By the end you will have an idea about what happiness is and you will certainly know what it isn't.

The book is beautiful, sharp and thoughtful.  I loved it and I think you will too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cartoons

I have some favourite cartoon sites that I'd like to share.

Dilbert.  If you've ever worked in an office, this will all too painfully familiar.

Garfield.  This is what cats really think of us.

Reverend Fun.  You don't need to know your bible to understand these cartoons, but it helps.

What are your favourite cartoon sites?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Weapon of Mass Instruction

This is one of those good news stories that doesn't even get on the editors desk. An Argentine artist travels round Buenos Aires in a tank handing out books for free.

Sadly, AFP won't let me display it here, so you'll have to go to youtube.

One of these days I might just do it myself.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Errrr.

I don't know what's happening today. This is my third attempt to put this blog posting up.

For all you need to know about writing a one sentence synopsis, Nathan Brandsford has some excellent advice.

Have a great weekend

Ooops.

For some reason, the blog below has been corrupted.

So, the link for nathan brandsford's blog on how to write a one sentence synopsis is in this one instead.

No comments:

One Sentence Synopsis.

How do you sum up your book in one sentence?

Easy. No comments:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Writing a synopsis is hard...but so is writing a novel if you've never done it before, or fixing a PC. So here's a little game for us all so we can learn how to write synopses.

1 - Take any book off your shelf that you've read, whether it is fiction or non-fiction.

2 - Sum it up in one sentence.

3 - Sum it up in one paragraph.

4 - Sum it up in two paragraphs.

5 - Repeat every day with a different book.

(Thanks to Nathan Brandsford's Blog for the idea)

Happy synopsis writing!

Monday, May 17, 2010

We Happy Few: The Director's Cut

We did it. After four months of despair, actors dropping out, rewrites, cuts and another actor dropping out just before the first dress rehearsal, we successfully put on three shows.

We cut out one major character; we cut another several pages of dialogue; we even missed a few lines on each night. In the end, it was a success. Even our last minute casting of a minor role worked well.

The highlights?

- On the first night I had a real bottle of whisky to hand round in the last scene, but forgot to tell one of the actors. She proceeded to take a large slug of what she thought was cold tea and nearly choked. It was all we could do to prevent ourselves from corpsing.

- On the second night, in the same scene, one of the ladies took the bottle from another a bit too quickly and ended up spilling some down her chin.

- The cast party afterwards...just because we could finally relax.

- Having a a cut up kotex sanitary towel stuck on my face three nights running in place of a beard.

Next up is Babes in the Wood in December. Watch this space.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Down, But Not Out

"Depression isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign that you've been too strong for too long."

When you carry a mental load on your own for a long time, it will wear you down as much as carrying a physical load will. The difference is that no one can see your load and tend to dismiss it.

I've heard it said, that when you share a burden it's eased. That's not always true as some burdens cannot be shared, not matter how much people listen and understand. That doesn't mean you don't need support, just that no one can ease the pressure.

At the moment I have a play to get ready for, a council to fight, a business to run and various other mental and emotional pressures to deal with. Of those, only the play is positive. The hardest to deal with are the unmoveable bureaucracies that I depend on.

I'm looking forward to the play. Performing gives me a lift, especially when what I do makes people laugh with me. I'm also looking for a break from the other pressures so I can rebuild my life: I'm just not sure when it will come.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

10,000 Hours Makes You an Expert

According to research by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, to become an expert in something, you need to spend 10,000 hours practising it, allied to some talent.

He goes on to prove that theory for sports people, musicians and computer programmers.

The question is, how does that apply to writing? Is it just the writing that counts. or do we include researching, planning and reading?

In short, what skills make a good writer and what do we need to practice at?

Here's my list:
  • Writing of any form. Emails only count if you put time and effort into creating them.
  • Critical reading. Whenever you read with one eye on style and substance, such as reading a book with the aim of writing a review of it.
  • Planning. Programmers. musicians and sports people plan their training in order to get the most benefit from it, so why discount it for writers.
  • Researching. Knowing what to leave out is as important as knowing what to put in. Discovering what makes a good story can only help you write a good story.

    If you can put in 10,000 hours doing those things you will be an expert. It may even help you get published!
  • Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Tips For a Book Proposal

    This list applies to Non-Fiction and Fiction.

    1 - What is your subject? Where would you find it on the bookstore shelf?

    2 - What is the book's function? Entertain, inform?

    3 - Which readers do you have in mind? Be specific and as narrow as you can be, such as 'men who work from home' or 'readers interested in the works of Stephen King'.

    4 - Who are you? Experience, qualifications etc.

    5 - What are the main alternatives? Why does your one differ?

    6 - Would your book fit the agents/publishers list? Basic research should tell you the answer to that one.

    7 - How would you support the marketing of the book? The cheaper the better.

    8 - Who could endorse your book? David Beckham or your mother?

    Other things to consider are:
    - Does the book have enough energy to keep people turning the pages
    - Is it focused on meeting its goals and its readers needs

    Can you answer all, or some, of these questions as you write your story?

    adapted from 'The Perfect Proposal' by Tony Collins in 'Christian Writer' Summer 2010. Tony Collins is publisher of Monarch Books

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    The End of the World

    2012, according to a reading of a Mayan prophecy, is the year the world ends. But which one?

    When people talk about the end of the world, they assume that the world will die and all human life will cease to exist. But will it?

    One definition of 'end of the world', is that a particular society comes to an end. Communism's world ended in 1991, but humanity wasn't wiped out.

    In some cases the people were wiped out, as is the case with some Caribbean tribes when Europeans turned up.

    In many cases, however, the end of the world is not the end of life, just a change of direction and the leaving behind of old ways and methods.

    Humanity may be wiped out in 2012, or it may not.

    Alternatively, nothing will happen at all.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Two Weeks and Counting.

    In just over two weeks we have the first night of the play.

    I have my lines almost perfect, my positions on stage just about right and my costumes ready. The props are coming together as well as I've just built a cine camera...from cardboard.

    We can also start storing props at the hall as the previous play has finished and the 'vault' is free for us to use.

    Other people have got their parts organised, their lines learned (with only a few faults), and their movements planned. Given the sorry state the play was in a month ago, we've done well. It's looking like we will be putting on one of the best performances in a long time.

    On the writing front I am getting published every week in Hub via book reviews, whilst I am getting more work in for my PC business. My house situation is also looking better.

    The year is looking up.

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    Gas Mask

    Last night's rehearsal was great: and I wore a gas mask.

    I didn't wear it to hide my lovely face, but to raise a laugh. I'd suggested the idea to one of the directors last week and she'd said that we ought to try it. Eventually, one of the cast members discovered one amongst her husband's junk (why do women always call men's nic nacs junk, but call their collections decorations?)

    Towards of the end of the first act, the Artemis Players put on a performance of MacBeth in a pub. The witches scene calls for smoke and someone overdoes the smoke causing the cast, and the prompter (Reggie, who I'm playing) to cough. That's when I bring out the gas mask.

    As it is set in 1940, someone having a gas mask to hand is quite believable.

    When I put it on people laughed. When I lifted it up to do my prompting (by saying 'wrong') they laughed some more.

    Seems like a good idea.

    Have a great weekend.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    The Video's Out

    It is done.

    The promotional video (created by me) for 'We Happy Few' is out on youtube.



    Come and see it.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    We Happy Few

    The play is entering the final rehearsal stage and we're ready to go.

    We're almost word perfect now, which, with three weeks to go, is great. After all the problems we had at first, it's good to get near the end of the rehearsal schedule. The costumes are almost ready, as are the props.

    The youtube video will be ready by the end of the week too and I'll post the link here when I'm done.

    On the writing front, I am now part of the regular Dr Who review team for Hub Magazine, as well as doing my usual books.

    I get the feeling that this year is going to end up being a good one.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Exciting Times

    Has it been so long since I was here? Yep. Why? I'm glad you asked.

    I have been writing a number of book and film reviews for Hub Magazine, and have now been commissioned to write weekly reviews, alongside others on a rota, about the latest series of Dr Who. The first one, on episode two, should be out this week.

    I'm very pleased that not only was I asked, but that I also got the review in before the deadline...well, 10 minutes before the deadline anyway.

    I'm can't wait to find out what will happen next.

    On other news...there isn't any.

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    The Journey Continues

    More published reviews in the last fortnight, both for Hub Magazine. I also have another book to review, which I finished this morning.

    The joy of it is that I get a free book and get published for reading it. OK, they're not necessarily the kind of books that I would normally read, but they aren't bad. They also give me hope that I CAN get published one day.

    So, my name's getting out there and I may even submit a short story to Hub soon.

    One step at a time.

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Another Milestone

    I've had my first 'official review' published.

    I was sent a book called 'The Age of Zeus' by Hub magazine, read it, reviewed it and sent the review off. It was published this week in Hub 114. WOOHOO!

    Another step on the road to world domination complete.

    If you read it, you may wonder why I refer to raining about half way through. I meant training. Oops. Lesson learned...again.

    ------------------------

    On Friday, I gave you my thoughts on dreams. Over the weekend I had another insight, this time about how we access those memories.

    For each of those pictures in the gallery, our minds assign key words, phrases, sounds, smells, sights. Whenever we see, hear, feel etc anything in that list, the memory is triggered.

    Each of those memories is also stored in a gallery of similar memories, so when we access one of them we access them all.

    I also think that the gallery is constantly being rearranged as we add new memories. New wings are added, some are combined, others removed or redecorated.

    Have a great week. I will as the sun is out. I just hope it stays out.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Dreams Are Made of This

    I've had some weird dreams lately. Saving the world with the help of Lady Penelope, going to the USA and being asked to take a test by the immigration officials and several other things.

    But what are dreams? I have a theory.

    It's often said that our minds are like computers in which we store information in files within folders. I think our minds are more akin to an art gallery, with every important moment captured in a picture.

    Our dreams are our mind's way of arranging the gallery so only the most important information is immediately available, and bringing back old memories to help us solve current problems.

    I'm not sure how that works with remembering how to do maths though.

    Still, it's something to ponder at the weekend.

    Have a great one.

    Friday, March 05, 2010

    After Life

    When you die, what do you want to do?

    If you have no belief in the afterlife, then this question isn't for you. If you have any belief in life after death, of whatever sort, what would be the first thing you want to do?

    I'd want to visit the middle star of Orion's belt. I would stand on any planets that orbit it and watch a sunrise and maybe hang about in space for a while and take in the magnitude of the universe.

    Why?

    Many years ago I thought about the resurrection and what life would be like as a spiritual being. One thing followed another and I started to wonder what would be the first things Christ would say to me. One of the questions that came up was, 'where would you like to go first?' I didn't have an instant answer, so I pondered it for a while. Then, one night when I was looking into the sky, I thought about visiting the stars. That was when I had the idea and I've never forgotten it.

    What would be the first thing you want to do in the hereafter?

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    A New Play

    Rehearsals for the new play, We Happy Few by Imogen Stubbs have started. We're just having problems casting young women.

    Whenever we take on a play that requires a large-ish number of people, we have a problem with casting. One of the problems is with younger people. Most of the people involved are forty and over, with a smattering of younger ones. Those who get most heavily involved tend to be the older ones.

    So we're short of two young women.

    We had one young lady turn up and she was great for the part, but her husband is taking her away to Paris on the weekend of the performance.

    Another lady could easily take on the part of Charlie, but she, too, will be away that weekend.

    Unfortunately, none of these female parts can be doubled up. Still, we have until May.

    Other than that, the directors have decided to go with a minimalist set. Two large clothes rails, a small table and some chairs. Maybe a couple of other props littered around too.

    We may have solved one problem by tonight as another teenager is interested, but we'll have to wait and see if she passes the audition.

    Let the fun begin...again.

    Monday, February 01, 2010

    Good News and Revelations

    Good News. Pantechnicon issue ten is out and has my short story, Vehicles, inside.

    Another step on the way to becoming rich, famous and the most dominant writer in the whole of human history: Mwahahahahaha!

    On a different matter, I recently read a book by Mark Haddon entitled 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime'.

    It is the story of Christopher, a 15 year old boy who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. One night he discovers a neighbour's dog, Wellington, dead. It had been killed with a garden fork.

    He decides to write his investigations down and shows them to his teacher, Siobhan, who encourages him in his writing.

    The book does go off on several tangents, as Asperger's people tend to do, but is accurate in its portrayal of Asperger's and the people that suffer from it. How do I know? My eldest has Asperger's. So do I.

    Reading Christopher's story was disturbing for me as I could see many aspects of his life in my past, though not to the same extent. The need for regularity, the obsession with relatively unimportant things and the 'logicality' of his thought.

    It was also a breath of fresh air, as it highlighted so many aspects of my son's life to me, aspects that I had forgotten.

    It is not a textbook on Asperger's but it does give a glimpse into the world of the sufferers, and especially into the minds and lives of those who try and cope with it, and sometimes fail.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    Things That Give Me Joy

    A short list of some things that I enjoy and give me pleasure.

    - Fixing/building/making things
    - Helping people
    - Gentle conversation
    - Time with good friends
    - Philosophical discussions, but NOT arguments
    - Learning new things
    - Reading a good book
    - Watching entertainment
    - Singing and dancing
    - Being on stage
    - Giving to others
    - Sharing with others

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    So far....

    1 - Short story edited and resent for further critiquing? (tick)

    2 - Play script highlighted ready for line learning? (tick)

    3 - Organised desk area? (tick)

    4 - Updated NHWC website to allow members to put their pieces up for critiquing via Facebook? (tick)

    5 - Told Yahoo group members that the group will be closing down on Friday? (oops...must get on with it)

    Not bad for two days.

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    End of the Week

    Ah, Friday, and what have I accomplished?

    One short story completed in draft form and the second chapter of my novel completed likewise. Both sent out to friends for comments.

    Lots of home-ed completed.

    First read through of the play for May and celebration that I have two parts in it...maybe more depending on which other men want to take part.

    Life is beginning to settle down and be sorted.

    Roll on the rest of 2010.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Home Education

    It's been a good start to this year with Home Ed. The kids are getting on with their work well and learning their lessons well.

    Some of them have trouble with maths, so I've taken my time with them and spent more on the basics than would normally be allowed in a class. We've also continued our trawl through English history and are up to the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings.

    We'll see the result of the studying on Thursday as they present their projects, some of which will be multi-media presentations.

    This month we've started on Geography as well and are planning a visit to the Natural History Museum to tie in with January's theme: Dinosaurs. English has proceeded as normal as we revisited sentence structure and paragraphs. Add to that a study of the Tempest, story writing and a complete English package for one month has been achieved.

    Not only that we've started dancing lessons... and I'm taking part too. The kids have decided to form a band and even the non-musical ones are encouraged to take part, if only on the triangle or tambourine.

    All in all, a lot has been done. And there is a lot more to do too with kids who want to learn.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Daybreak

    It's cold and damp...when it isn't snowing. I haven't seen much sunshine over the past few days and I'm getting miserable.

    And then...whilst listening to my mp3s on the PC up came a song called Daybreak.

    .................................................................................................

    I'm singin' to the world
    It's time we let the spirit come in
    Let it come on in
    I'm singin' to the world
    Everybody's caught in the spin
    Look at where we've been
    We've been runnin' around
    Year after year Blinded with pride
    Blinded with fear

    But it's Daybreak If you wanna believe
    It can be Daybreak Ain't no time to grieve
    Said it's Daybreak If you'll only believe
    And let it shine, shine, shine
    All around the world

    Singin' to the world
    What's the point in puttin' it down?
    There's so much love to share
    I'm singin' to the world
    Don't you see it all comes around
    The feeling's everywhere
    We've been closin' our eyes
    Day after day Covered in clouds
    Losin' our way

    Hey, but it's Daybreak If you wanna believe
    It can be Daybreak Ain't no time to grieve
    Said it's Daybreak If you'll only believe
    And let it shine, shine, shine
    All around the world

    .................................................................................................

    That feels better.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    What's That Noise....

    ....Oh yes, that's silence.

    My boys are with their mother, my eldest step-daughter is sleeping over with a friend and the other one is having a sleep-in.

    Peace and quiet on a Sunday morning.

    Bliss!

    Time to read and write.

    Thursday, January 07, 2010

    Home Education Joys

    Home education has restarted this week, and started with a bang.

    Monday we prepared the kids for what was going to happen, then on Tuesday and Wednesday we put them through their paces with English and Science.

    The joy of Home Education is that you can take a break from things for outside events, such as the snow. After lunch today, the four of them went out sledding. Education will restart when they return.

    So they get to sled in the snow during daylight and still get educated. More to the point, the parents get time to themselves during the day.

    History and Science to come.

    Oh, and I've done some writing too.

    Monday, January 04, 2010

    New Year, New Goals

    2010, watch out.

    - Last year I had more pieces published than in any other year. In 2010 I intend to increase that figure again.

    - Last year saw the final break with my old life. In 2010 I have started a new life.

    - Last year saw some good and bad moments. As that applies to life in general, I don't see that changing at all, but I will make more of the good moments.

    - Last year I joined a drama group and appeared in two plays. This year I will continue that and enjoy it more.

    - Last year, my health and fitness dipped to their lowest ever level. In 2010 I will do more exercise and eat better.

    And Finally...I will tell the people who are close to me how much they mean to me, and tell them as often as possible.