Friday, December 23, 2011

And So We Came To The End....of 2011

This will be my last post of 2011, so I thought I'd leave you laughing/thinking with some witty/funny/humourous/thought-provoking pictures.







Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lessons Learnt/Learned

Wednesday is writing apprecaition day, AKA 101 things you always wanted to know about writing but were afraid to ask. This is what I've learnt this year.

1. Ask
I covered this is a recent post, but the simplest way to get published is to ask. Submitting a novel or short story is asking, but I also learnt to ask magazines if they would like me to write an article about converting a document to an ebook for them. This has had one happy knock on when I was asked by the magazine to do a follow up. Lesson 1, Don't be afraid to ask.

2. I know what I'm doing
Having faith in my writing is hard, but after the year I've had I've learnt to trust my instincts. I followed my gut when it came to turning a novel into a comedy thriller and it worked far better than the version that went before it. Lesson 2, Trust myself.

3. Don't give up
Somewhat obvious, but often a hard thing to follow through on. By not giving up on the book launch, even though it scared me, I got a book published. Lesson 3, Don't give up.

4. Three's a crowd
By working with a group of people, organising a book launch, and writing, is far easier. To my writer's group, thankyou. Lesson 4, Working with people makes things easier and more fun.

5. I'm worth something
It's fair to say that I'd never been lower than after my divorce and the final split. In the two years since I've realised that I am worth something, that I can do things and my memory isn't as bad as it has been painted. Lesson 5, I'm me and I'm proud of it.

Next year I'm going to learn the difference between learnt and learned.

What have you learnt this year, about your writing and yourself?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Year End WIP

2011 is coming to an end and as this is the last week I shall be blogging till 2012, I thought I'd start with a review of the years achievements.

Writing
Aside from the published novel, there have been other successes. I set myself the goal of getting published in another magazine this year in addition to Hub. It didn't have to be a story, but someting valid and 'writerly' and achieved that with a short story on WritingRaw early on this year.

Since then, I've also got a column on WritingRaw about self-publishing and have had an article published in ACW, with a follow-up article due out in January. In addition to these, I've had two joke headlines published on Newsbiscuit.

The highlight has to be the book launch as it was my first, and won't be the last. I've started on the second novel, which will be finished by the summer if all goes well, and will be ready for launching next November.

All in all, a very good year, a lot of progress and lots of foundation laid for the future.

Personal
Aside from appearing in two stage plays this year, once as a psychotic encyclopeadia salesman and once as an American writer of bonkbusters, I came off anti-depressants in November. I'd been taking them under medical supervision since June 2009, after the final split with my ex-wife and separation from my children.

I've now settled into my new flat, got my finances sorted (mostly) and although I feel lonely sometimes, it's better than being locked into a loveless marriage. (If you happen to know any desperate, middle-aged, female millionaires, point them in my direction...if they have a weak heart, even better)

Things have still gone wrong this year, but on balance, the good has outweighed the bad. 2011 is a year I shall look back on with a smile, and it's the first time for a long while I can say that.

See you on Wednesday, when I shall write about some of the things I have learnt this year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Remembrance

Today would have been my father's 80th birthday and my abiding memory of him is laughter. My dad loved to laugh and thanks to him I got to see some great comedy and to appreciate all comedy.

In memory of him I've trawled youtube for some great comedy moments that I shared with him in front of the television. I hope you enjoy them too.




















Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Read A Little To Learn A Lot.

'Read other authors to learn how to write!' they say, but what happens when you hate the book?

One occupational hazard of being a writer is reading books that you hate in order to learn what another writer is doing well. There are people who don't like Stephen King (HERETICS!), but he is such a good writer that reading his books is highly recommended for any budding author. So what do you do? Read a little to learn a lot.

Get a 'recommended book', open it at random and read two chapters from that point. It's something you can do with any book and is what historians do when researching their subject matter.

If you want to know how different authors start their books, read the first chapters and if you want to know how they end them, read the last chapters. For descriptions of events and people or for dialogue, open the book at random. If you want to discover how they plot a book, well, you'll just have to read the whole thing, but skipping any descriptive paragraphs along the way.

As a Meerkat would say, 'simples'.

On my library shelves I have a lot of books that I haven't read or only partly read for this very reason, mostly bought from charity shops or second-hand bookshops. It is my anti-library, full of wonderful authors whose writing I don't like, awful authors whose writing leaves me cold and is a wonderful resource. It's also a fabulous excuse for hoarding books.

How's that for a Christmas present? An excuse to keep every book you've bought to build your own anti-library.

On the subject of the festive season, I'm not the most christmassy of people, so it does leave me a little cold. I love the good humour of people and the general merriment, but the gift giving and cards...BAH HUMBUG. (My apologies, dear reader, if you've already spent a fortune on a gift for me and have posted it)

To that end, here's one of my favourite Christmas songs, a lovely little ditty by Weird Al Yankovic called 'Christmas at Ground Zero'.



MERRY ANTI-CHRISTMAS

Monday, December 12, 2011

WIP

It's Monday, therefore it must be a progress update.

I've started my second novel and have realised that I need to get some information from the first one to make sure I'm being consistent. To that end I've gone through the notes I made for the first book and am re-reading it to ensure I get my facts straight.

It also helps in other ways as I plan to write more books set in this galaxy, but not necessarily with the same people. Examples of this approach can be seen most obviously in the Discworld series, but also in the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher and books by Tom Holt, Gail Carriger and Stephen Hunt.

I should have it all done by Christmas, as well as outlining the plot of book 2, whose working title is now Apollo the Thirteenth.

Tonight, Starfish Publishing will be out on the razz, celebrating a great year for us all..we'll be at a Pizza Hut. We've got a publishing enterprise off the ground, sold a couple of books for REAL money and have made a lot of progress as writers.

Finally, I just HAVE to share this photo with you, courtesy of George Takei's facebook page.


See you on Wednesday.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday Fun

Lots of pictures this week...most of them thanks to George Takei's Facebook account.


Who could really disagree with this?

I blame the examiner for asking the wrong question.

Ever get days when this seems like a realistic option?

All together now, Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

Would you invtie this man to your Christmas party?

Too true

Sometimes you just gotta admire people's creativity at Christmas

I'm wishing now!

This one is dedicated to every creative person on the planet


Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Articles and Columns

One of the hardest things to do as an 'Independent Author' is to keep yourself in the public eye, but there are two relatively easy ways to do so: articles and columns.

Writing articles on publishing isn't too difficult, especially if you do something that others don't, but getting them published is. So how? Ask. Email editors with a proposal and see if they bite.

Some time ago I approached the ACW magazine with an idea for an article. I planned to write about converting a book to the Kindle format and uploading it to Amazon. The editor liked the idea and asked me to write it and after submitting it, said she'd publish it.

Since the book launch I've written a piece for the local newspaper, and I'm waiting to hear back from another magazine about an article on the launch. Small bites, but it all helps.

Columns are more problematic as they require an editor to agree to publish several articles over an extended period of time. As it happens, I proposed an idea for a monthly column about self-publishing to WritingRaw.com and they jumped at it...in a nice way of course and it goes out on the first of the month.

How did I get these openings? I asked. I am also a member of ACW and have been reading WritingRaw for a couple of years which made it easier for me to propose the ideas as I had a good idea of what they wanted. Do you have any magazines about writing that you read on a regular basis that you could submit an idea to? A website you go to on a regular basis, an online magazine?

Just ask. Editors are used to people submitting ideas on spec, for most of them it's how they fill each issue, and if they are interested and publish the article, then it'll be easier the next time as you'll be a known quantity.

I've yet to have anything commissioned for payment, but every article keeps my name in the public eye, not to mention the writing experience it gives me.

Go email a friendly editor...or even an unfriendly one, and surprise yourself.

Monday, December 05, 2011

WIP Report

Have a good weekend? I did. Lots of peace and quiet.

I've started working on the second novel now. It's at the planning stage, thinking of who's going to do what to whom, but the basic story has been decided upon.

Alan Radford, the almost hero of 'A Stitch In Time', goes to the moon with his wife and daughter to see the recently discovered Moon Lander Apollo 13 that had been buried under the dust. After proving it's a fake the lander chases him around the moon and tries to kill him.

Yes, I know that Apollo 13 never landed on the moon, that's the whole point. It's a fake. Who planted it there and why brings back our old friend Furteen and, naturally, Harold Kennedy is never far away from the action. Mae still speaks without taking a breath and Carla wants to fight the rampant machine in hand-to-hand combat for daring to assault her husband and, even worse, call him a liar.

It's a story I've had floating around in my mind for a while and I'm looking forward to writing it, something I shall start in the next few days.

In other news, Starfish Publishing have started to plan their next book launch for June 2012. We've had an idea to tie up with a local school, whereby they run a short story competition for the pupils and the publishable entries are compiled into a collection for sale via Amazon's Kindle. They keep the proceeds, we get a free hall for the evening and the PTFA get to run a cake/tea/drink stall to raise money for the school.

We may also be able to drag in other school departments. The art department can design book covers, the computer department can make book trailers and the PE teachers can go for a long run.

If we plan it so that the launch co-incides with the end of half-term, we'll catch the parents at the right time. One of our group knows an English teacher at the school and he's up for it so we're on our way.

Other than that, I've written an article for a magazine about the book launch and another for my regular column at WritingRaw.com.

Now for a cuppa and a sit down. See you on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Thought

Another 'I don't normally post at the weekend' entry and another song. This time it's Run For Home, by Lindisfarne. It's a song I've always liked, but now the lyrics mean so much more than they did when I was a teenager: they encapsulate my life so far.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Friday Fun

It's Friday and I'm feeling lazy, so here's a couple of pictures and a vdeo to make you chuckle, chortle, laugh or guffaw. Take your pick.



Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ebook Conversion

If you're thinking of publishing an ebook, there's lots of software out there that will handle the process for you. Whichever you choose, you will still need to be aware of some things that can cause your book to look odd.

Paragraphs. Do NOT use tabs. Use the 'format-paragraph' option. If you use tabs the converted book will look a little odd and maybe even look weird.

New chapter. Use 'ctrl+enter' to start a new page and not the enter key. Also, do not have a line space after the last word of the previous chapter as this will often be added to the top of the next chapter.

Fonts. Unusual fonts don't translate well so stick with Times New Roman unless you have a good reason not to or fancy a non-serifed font.

Tabs. Treat tabs like a contagious disease.

If you want to see what formatting you already have in your document, search at the top of your processing software and look for an icon in the shape of a back-to-front 'IP'. Click on it and you can see the 'tabs' (arrows), 'enter' (back-to-front IP) and spaces (a '.' in the centre of the line). Remove those that you don't need.

See you on Friday.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Book Launch

I know you're all wondering how it went, so I'll tell you.

OK

Happy? What do you mean, 'no'? You want more details? Oh...alright then.

The plan. Set up the hall between 12 and 1pm ready for the hordes to descend on us at 1pm. Sign jacket artwork copies and flog...errr...sell them at £1 each and give away bookmarks to anyone who wanted one. At 2pm the three authors would get on stage and read extracts from their books and to thunderous applause take a bow. The whole shebang was due to end at 4pm and we'd be out by 4.30pm with a song in our hearts and a smile on each face.

What happened. What we planned, except for the thunderous applause and the sale of the signed artwork.

We'd invited over 150 people and though we knew that not all would attend, we were expecting more than did turn up. Still, this is our first ever book launch as a group so it's a lesson learned for future. How many did turn up? 20.

Selling the cover artwork was a stab in the dark anyway. We figured that if people were willing to buy an £8 book at a launch, they wouldn't mind paying £4 for an ebook plus £1 for a signed copy of the cover. Hmmmmm.

The readings were well received and were the best part of the afternoon. The applause wasn't thunderous, but it was more than polite and a definite highlight.

We were there for three hours, which was a bit optimistic in hindsight. Whether we shorten the period or put more activities in place next time is someting to discuss, but it will depend on numbers.

The biggest problem at the launch was not having any physical product to sell as there was nothing to see. That is a problem that we will have to overcome somehow, but we're not sure how at the moment. Partial printouts, small number of printed copies, CDs with a copy of the book and artwork?

We shall have a think about this and many other things tonight at our debrief, but one thing we have decided is that we want this to continue and we're already planning our next launch for June.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Fun

Book Launch on Sunday, so this is going to be short.

Oddbox. Includes the world leprachaun record, a lucky escape for a helicopter pilot and someone shouting Fenton, trying to stop his dog chasing deer.

From the BBC, preventing spit corrosion in India and the world's worst football team finally wins a game.

From Newsbiscuit, The Siri app develops an attitude problem and one student sends academia reeling by telling his professorsr that it's 'just your opinion'.

With that, I wish you au revoir. On Monday I shall be blogging from the mental home I'm going to check into on Sunday night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

59 Seconds...Or Less

In case you hadn't been paying attention (shame on you), I have a book launch on Sunday, details of which you can get by clicking on the lovely picture on the right. It also means I haven't much time to do a blog, but I know how much you'd miss it if I didn't add one today.

To that end, here are some things that can help you change things in your life in less than 59 seconds...that's 59 seconds each, not together.

1 - Develop the gratitude attitude. List three things that you are grateful for or three events that have gone well over the last week. It'll help your happiness.

2 - Place a picture of a baby in your wallet. Doing so increases the chance of it being returned if lost by 30%. Doesn't matter whose baby it is, any baby will do.

3 - Hang a mirror in your kitchen. Seeing your own reflection will make you more aware of your body and you'll find that you'll more healthy food. (No I haven't done this. I'm too ashamed)

4 - Buy a pot plant for the office. Adding pot plants to an office (home or not) adds 15% to the number of creative ideas from men and helps women produce more original solutions to problems.

5 - Touch people lightly on the upper arm. Touching people lightly makes it more likely that people will agree to your request. It works for dating too.

6 - Write about your relationship. Partners who spend a few moments each week writing down their deepest thoughts and feelings about their relationship are 20% more likely to stay together. You don't have to tell your partner what you wrote...but you may want to.

7 - Deal with potential liars by closing your eyes or asking for an email. The most reliable clues (not certainties) to someone lying are using 'um' and 'er' a lot, lacking detail and avoiding self-reference (me, myself, I). People are also 20% less likely to lie in an email as it's written evidence.

8 - Praise children's effort over ability. Counter-intuitive this one, but if you praise their effort, they will keep trying regardless of the consequences, side-stepping the fear of failure.

9 - Visualise yourself doing, not achieving. People who visualise themselves taking the practical steps to achieve their goal are more likely to succeed.

10 - Consider your legacy. Spend a minute imagining a close friend standing by your grave and reflecting on your personal and professional legacy. It helps to identify long term goals and the degree to which you're progressing towards them.

All the above come from the conclusion of '59 Seconds - Think a little, change a lot' by Professor of Psychology, Richard Wiseman. It's an excellent book and thoroughly recommended...but it will take longer than 59 seconds to read.

See you on Friday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Launch

Tonight we had our final writer's group meeting before the launch of our ebooks next Sunday...EEEEEEEEEKKKKK! And guess what? We're already looking ahead to May 2012 and our next launch.

So what have we done in preparation?
- hired room. We got it for free providing we get it covered by the local press.
- arranged for three articles to be done after the launch. One for the local paper, one for a local magazine and one for Writing Raw.
- books will be converted to the correct electronic format tomorrow and loaded to Amazon.
- advertising done with local newsagents and by distributing a few leaflets, not to mention inviting EVERYONE we know on Facebook as well as family and friends. We might even exceed the 100 target.
- got local library to send someone along to the launch
- arranged for A3 posters to be printed for each book cover.
- agreed on price for novels (£3.50)
- agreed on price for signed book cover art (£1) and signed bookmark (50p). Both will be printed on my laser printer. Unsigned bookmarks will be available for free.
- finished our mission statement for the website
- almost finished website. Just waiting on one author bio

Roll on next Sunday...and on Monday I'll update you on how it went. One last thing, we've arranged a date for our post-launch party.

Onto other updates, the play went as well as could be expected. Lines missed occasionally, chess pieces being whacked into the audience and the odd moment of (deliberate) comedy.

Want to know what I looked like in my costumes? OK. This is me in act 1.

In act 2...

Don't my chins look wonderful. And in case you're wondering I wasn't trying to look cool, I was feeling very uncomfortable.

See you on Wednesday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Fun

OK. This is gonna be a quicky as I have a play to perform tonight and a book to edit.

First up, Oddbox. This week another surfing dog, a strange divorce ceremony and the Latin American Pole Dance Championship. Oh and there's a Hen Hotel too.

Elsehwere on the BBC, Hilary Clinton laughs...at a man in a loincloth, Dame Judi Dench is to appear in a school play and Justin Timberlake keeps a promise to date a US Marine.

From Newsbiscuit comes the headline, 'Gervais sees the joke as nine-foot lectern unveiled for Golden Globes awards' and the story about boy raised by moths.

Piccie time

What Australia is really like.


Who doesn't agree with this sentiment?


And finally, time to plug the Book Launch again. This time with Dawn's book cover for 'Son of Jack'.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reading to Learn

'Read to Learn' is an oft given piece of advice to writers, but read what?

Reading within your chosen genre shows you what to look for as you write your masterpiece, but does it help you to write? Not always.

If you restrict yourself to your chosen genre, then you may end up repeating what others have done instead of creating something a little different in your own voice. If you read around, you will become a more balanced writer.

Want to inject some thrilling scenes into your romance? Read a thriller. Want to create a reliable scientific character? Read a biography of a scientist. Read history, read psychology, read horror and science fiction. Got a problem with dialogue? Read a play, film or tv script. Reading a bad book can help you highlight faults in your own writing.

DON'T get too hooked on technical books about the process of writing or you will end up with sixteen different ways of doing the same thing, none of which actually help you write YOUR way.

Read around, but if you're finding a book boring put it down and read something else. Don't read a book because you feel you ought to, read it for the right reason.

Read other genres, non-fiction, plays and anything else you can lay your hands on (news magazines are good if you want to write faced paced narrative) and let the knowledge seep into your mind. You'll be surprised how much you remember when you're writing your own little piece of history.

Monday, November 14, 2011

400

Never mind 300 Spartan warriors, this is my 400th post. Wooohoo, yippeeeee, yaaayyyhaaaaayyyyyyyy.

OK, party over. Now, on with the updates.

At the beginning of the month (yes I know I should have told you then), Writing Raw published my first column about self-publishing (you can find it half way down on the left). It's an ongoing series about the highs and lows of self-publishing and the decisions that need to be made. The next column, due out at the beginning of December, will be about the launch and the promotion we've done.

I've not made much progress on the novel due to the impending play, which means I am cutting things close. I have set aside tomorrow morning to finish it off and nothing is going to get in the way of it, though I will take a break around 11am to go and see a lady about the room hire for the book launch.

Talking of the play, we will be performing this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Knebworth Village Hall. You can see the video trailer on youtube, which also has booking information. For those of you flying in from the USA or other international destinations (such as Scotland), Knebworth is only 2 hours from Heathrow by taxi.

As you're going to be flying in from international destinations for the play, why not make a holiday of it. Stay for the week at the Ramada Cromwell Hotel, see Hertfordshire and wrap your holiday up by attending the book launch on Sunday 27th November, 1-4pm at the Cromwell Hotel. You can get to meet me and the other members of the North Herts Writers Circle, people who will be household names by next summer...in their own homes that is.

I shall see you all on Wednesday. In the meantime, I'll be learning lines, editing, updating the Starfish Publishing website and generally acting like a headless chicken. I'll leave you with the trailer for the play and the book trailer for 'Son of Jack', one of the three titles we'll be launching.





Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Fun

First up, Oddbox. A doggy pub, extreme snowmobiles, massed tightrope walking and a running robot.

From elsewhere on the Beeb, there is a piece on the odd requests that British consulates receive. Would you believe that people ring them to ask for Prince Charle's shoe size or Phil Collins' phone number? There's also the story about what happens when Health and Safety officials don't take their own advice. That's right, they have an accident.

Now for a 'WOW' moment. A one molecule car. All together now...WOW.

My favourite political moment of the week: an MP calls James Murdoch a Mafia boss.

Newsbiscuit. The Olympic Games build up continues to fill the population of the UK with Apathy and what's going on with the protests at the moment? Someone has started an anti-capitalist events management company.

The financial crisis has, however, inspired a new musical. Greece. All together now,
I've got bills, they're multiplying
And I’m losin’ control
'cause the interest you’re applyin’
It’s electrifyin’!

The full lyrics are available on the site.

If, like me, you're just too attractive to the opposite sex, then you need to use both Lynx and Impulse to create a sexual null point.

From the Home Office comes the terrifying news that a man has been arrested for not having a Facebook account, while from the internet comes the news that spammers are angry about coherent posts on their forums.

Piccie Time




Have a great weekend and on Monday I reach a milestone. It's like a gallstone, but far less painful.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Don't Quit

Sometimes the simplest advice is the best advice. Whatever you're doing in life that you believe in, DON'T QUIT.

********************************

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

http://www.thedontquitpoem.com/thePoem.htm

**************************

See you Friday.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

WIP

Day later than expected, but I do have a good excuse...errr....reason. I was editing.

The novel has been edited in full and now awaits a final readthrough by the writer's group. Once it gets through that stage it will be converted to kindle format and be ready for publication. All I need to do now is get a cover and a book trailer. Easy(?).

Invites have been sent out for the book launch and we're hoping for a good turnout. Friends, relatives and people we can drag off the street. "But I don't want to go to a book launch." "Don't think of it as a book launch, think of it as a kidnap attempt." I still need to contact the local newspaper, the BBC and I'm waiting on our local MP to comfirm his attendance (fingers crossed).

The other novel (Son of Jack) is near completion and we may have a late entry with three short stories under the title 'The Devil She Is'. I'll let you brood on that one till next week.

We have learnt a lot from this process, all of which will help us next May and we won't repeat the same mistakes: we'll find new ones. Talking of which, we have some in the pipeline for next May (books, not mistakes) and this time I'm not going to write AND organise. I'll just organise. Whether or not that's a new mistake or not only time will tell.

The play is entering it's last week of rehearsals and tonight we're having a 'words run-through'. No acting, just words to make sure we know them...which reminds me, I must get that book out and start learning the ones I don't know. (Technically I know all the words, I just don't know the correct order)

I also have my domain name back, which was another reason for the lack of posting yesterday, so I should have the website up by the end of the week.

See you on Wednesday, by which time my nervous breakdown should be in full flow.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

My Past

Memories can be nudged back into view by many things and a couple of songs from my MP3 have opened a window on how I felt during my marriage.

The first is by Cliff Richard and is called '(You Keep Me) Hanging On'. Some of you may recognise the situation he sings about from your past.



The second one's called 'Ain't No Pleasing You' by Chas and Dave...with a (very bad) joke by Kenny Everett at the beginning.



Scars heal, but they don't always fade.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Fun

First up, Oddbox. This week, bathing a racoon, a collision with a vulture and two BBC reporters have a polite argument over the time. Well, almost polite.

Elsewhere on the Beeb, the queen's underwear has been sold for £10,000, inventions that have kept us safe and how well do you know national animals?

There is also news that six men have (almost) returned from Mars and that ageing has been halted...in mice.

Newsbiscuit.

Reports emerged this week that the 7 billionth human being has been inundated with junk mail and pc popups offering free gifts.

In the wake of the decision that the future succession to the throne will not be decided by gender, comes the added news that the monarch will be decided by a new reality tv program, the Rex Factor.

BBC reporter Robert Peston has been having Ego problems and lazy animal lovers have been queueing up to buy the latest pet: the remote control dog.

BREAKING NEWS.......Justin Beiber's agent denies he is showing signs of talent.

Best headline of the week: Simulated Mars mission was ‘real’ claim conspiracy theorists

Finally, a picture to warn the heart of pedants everywhere.


Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Writing The Evil Guy...Or Gal

Want a villain in your book? Of course you do. But how do you write one that doesn't make a Bond villain look real? Help is at hand with the 'Evil Overlord List'.

Some examples:

- My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.
- Shooting is not too good for my enemies.
- The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the 'Mountain of Despair' beyond the 'River of Fir'e guarded by the 'Dragons of Eternity'. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.
- I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.

That's not all. Later on in the list are gems such as:

- I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.
- I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.
- My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard operating systems.
- If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I'll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well" and kill her.

One of the best hints is very simple. 'My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.'

You can find these and more at the evil overlord list webpage. Have fun.

Monday, October 31, 2011

WIP

Well, I've finished the edits up to chapter 10, which means I only have two chapters left to edit. Why not the whole lot? Let me explain my weekend and Monday.

Friday: Discover that my email problems are a little deeper than I thought. My website has been taken offline as I didn't renew it. My fault you would think...except I didn't receive any notification that it was due for renewal. The hosting company don't reply to my question via their support site nor do they answer the phone. Well they do reply, but send me a text message that is unreadable, from a number I don't recognise and think is spam (I realise it's from them on Monday morning after they send me a proper message from the same number). I get fed up with this and start looking for a new hosting company to transfer the domain name to, find one and start the process.

Saturday: Still no response from hosting company despite me labelling it urgent on Friday morning. However, I've had a lie in, feel good a looking forward to an afternoon with friends. The plan is to edit that evening, but am too tired. Still there's always a quiet Sunday. The only thing planned is for my youngest to come round at some point as he wants help with his History homework.

Sunday: Clocks go back an hour so I get an extra hour to do things. I start by getting the washing up done whilst my eldest is in bed. Then he gets up and informs me that his friend is coming round...the loud one. They proceed to make a lot of noiseand occupy the front room. Fat chance of getting anything done. Still no response from the hosting company, but as it's a Sunday I'll let them off. I console myself with the fact that on Monday my son will be at college...until he tells me his Asthma has returned and his inhaler has run out.

Monday Morning: 9am, planned removal of rubbish from a friend's house to the local dump and a bit of shopping as she's put her back out. Done by 10am. 10.30am at the doctors, taking my editing with me. I barely get started when we are called in. Home by 11am. In the meantime the hosting company has called me (something they couldn't be bothered to do before). Apparently, I'm at fault for not receiving the emails. When I describe this as bad communication, they won't have it. Their systems are automated and infallible. Then when I make it clear that I'm not renewing, I'm told I have to wait 21 days to get my domain name away from them. Not content with that, I use my technical know-how to find out who the domain registrar is (it's often different from the owner...me), and it's not my hosting company, but somebody else (If you want a full description of how this works, ask me in the comments section).

Monday Afternoon: Thankfully, the company with whom it is registered (Heart Internet) know what customer service means and are willing to help even though will not earn any money from me as I have already set up a hosting account elsewhere. By the end of Monday I know that it should be sorted out by next Monday and that the previous company were talking rubbish about waiting 21 days. In the meantime, I've received a phone call from a customer who wants their pc fixed as it has multiple viruses on it. I finish setting up an account with Heart Internet so I can transfer the domain name into it when 'the other company' release it. Fixing the pc is easy and earns me some money. When I return, Heart have shown how good their customer service is by updating the support ticket with useful information and respond quickly to my next question. They will do what they can, but if they cannot transfer it because of awkwardness, then they will do it next Monday anyway. Then I have some lines to learn for tonight's rehearsal.

Despite this I get up to chapter 10 of the edits, and have spare time tomorrow to finish off chapters 11 & 12...I hope. Which brings me to the book launch.

I still have to contact the local paper, our MP, a councillor and the BBC, as well as Amazon to see who wants to turn up and help us launch, which is best done tomorrow. The problems with 'the other hosting company' also means work on the website has been held up as I have no means of showing others the progress. That, however, is small beer compared the terror I'm feeling now I know my book will be published. No more hiding behind, "I can't get an agent", or "I haven't finished it yet as it's not ready". It will be out there for ALL to see.

Did I mention I have to go to work tomorrow evening?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Fun

Despite a hectic week I'm still here to provide you with some more fun. As usual, I'll start with Oddbox. This week a cute little wombat, 9 sets of twins in one class, a bungee-jumping car and one of the worst raps you will ever hear.

Remeber the 'Joy of Sex' and the hairy man? Want to know who did the illustrations? Want to know who the models were? The BBC reveals all. Not only that, the Beeb has also delved into the archives of the Royal Society and brought us information about the woman who urinated a bullet.

There are now 7 billion people on earth. If you want to know how many people are younger or older than you, the BBC has a useful little page that can show you. Apparantly I am the 76,995,035,236th person to have ever lived. Makes me feel SOOOOO special.

The final BBC video contains disturbing images...people eating insects. Sadly I couldn't find the video where the reporter ate an insect that hadn't been cooked yet.

Newsbiscuit time. Bit quiet this week (in my opinion) with only one good story, ITV working on new Viking detective series: Inspector Norse

From facebook, some little gems:

'A helpline has been set up for devastated Man Utd fans - if you wish to speak to someone about yesterdays result, you can call 0161 61 61 61'

'Alex Ferguson overslept this morning, his wife shook him and said "Alex it's seven" he replied "oh no, they haven't scored again have they?"'

The blogshpere has been interesting too. From the Inky Fool, comes a post about the true meaning of currying favour...and the worst joke of all time. There's also a cautionary tale of what happens when you use the loo as a reading room and siblings need a pee and a recipe for cooking pumpkin seeds.

Today's pictures:



Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What To Look For In Editing

What do you look for when you edit? Spelling mistakes and grammar? Good. But there are other things you should be doing too.

1. 'That'. How many times have you used the word 'that' in your sentences? If you're like me, you'll have used it many times, but it's rarely needed. Try dropping the word from a sentence and if still makes sense, leave it out all together. (I'd like to attribute that to the correct person, but I've forgotten who it was. If it was your blog, please leave a link in the comments section.)

2. '-ing' words. Do you start sentences with words ending in '-ing'? It's a structure that can cause all sorts of problems if you're not careful. "Rubbing her neck, the blinking red light on the answering machine caught Sarah's eye," makes it sound as though the answer machine is rubbing Sarah's neck. You can read the full rundown on this at 'The Blood-Red Pencil' blog.

3. Adverbs. I know this one has been done to death, but have you thought about adding them to your prose. They can be overused, but that doesn't mean we should totally exclude them.

4. Nouns. Have you capitalised the right ones?

5. Verbs. Are they in the correct tense?

6. Description. Is it too long or too short? Have you missed out information that the reader needs to know? Is it clumsy? More importantly, have you given this information before? In my current WIP I gave the same information three times.

7. Cliches. In one sense everything we write is a cliche, and though the advice is to avoid them like the plague(!), sometimes they can be useful. People speak in cliches and some people ARE cliches, expecially management-type individuals and their buzz words. There is also a hangup about a story being a cliche, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as a blog at StrangePegs points out.

8. Jargon. We all have jargon in our lives and while it's useful in certain situations, it can throw people who don't know what it means. If you're going to use Jargon, you have to explain it, remove it or make sure your audience knows it. That also applies to words you have invented, or known words that have a different meaning in your world. For ideas about words and their etymology, The Inky Fool is an excellent blog to follow.

9. Ambulance Chasing. An wonderful phrase that sums up the idea of following trends. Have you done that in your WIP? If so, Electric Spec have a few warnings about the practice.

10. Genre. Is your book REALLY in the genre you're writing for? Just a thought.

11. Are your characters experiencing problems that they have to solve? If not, have you got a story?

There's lots of help out there for us writers, mainly from other writers trying to get published, writers who are published and occasionally agents. In addition to the ones I've linked to above, here are some more.
The Literary Lab
In Medias Res
Adventures In Agentland
Pimp My Novel (Although it's no longer being updated, it's previous postings are a gold mine)

There are many more out there just waiting for you to find them, follow them and tell everyone else about them.

See you on Friday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

WIP

Apologies for being a day late, but as you're a forgiving bunch I know you'll let it pass.

First up, the novel. I've almost finished the re-write of chapter 5 and finished the edits of chapters 6 & 7. I should have the whole lot done by next Monday, at which point I'll be looking for some critiques from my writer's group.

Talking of which, if anyone wants to 'beta-read' the novel, let me know in the comments section below. I promise you nothing but blood, sweat and tears...that's the part when Alan gets an accidental knee in the groin. What do you mean that's not enough? OK, I'll email you a free version of the book when its published as well.

While I'm on the subject of publishing (how's that for a tidy segue), we have a date for our launch: 27th November. We're holding it in a local hotel who are supplying the room free of charge on condition that we get the local press to cover it. If I have my way, we'll have local BBC radio and TV covering it too.

'Why would they do that?' you ask. 'It's never been done before' I reply. Book launches yes, but an ebook launch? How do you have a book signing event when there are no books available? Shall I tell you now, or let you find out next week? How cruel shall I be? OK, I'll tell you. But only if you stop hanging the noose from that tree.

For the first 2-3 days of the launch, all buyers will get a Special Edition of the book. This copy will have a different frontpage with a message and a digitised signature from the author. Afterwards, the normal version will go back on Amazon.

We're also going to have signed copies of the cover artwork for sale and a short reading from each book by the authors. As for who's coming, there'll be family and friends and hopefully the people staying at the hotel. We'll ask a local politician or two to join us and may even get a West End actor to put in an appearance. I'm also going to get in touch with Amazon to see if they would like to take part too.

In short, we've pulled in every contact we have, including some we've forgotten about, and made a few more along the way. I'll tell you more as we get nearer the date.

As I'm on the subject of actors (not such a tidy segue), play rehearsals are proceeding apace and I have learnt some of my words...and there are more than I thought there would be. We have most of the props, but I still need an early 1970s style dress suit.

All in all, it's proving to be a busy November...and I'm loving it.

See you tomorrow

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Fun

The weekends nearly here, so kick off those shoes, sit back and enjoy yourself. At least until the kids get home.

First up, oddbox. This week the Scrabble world championships (with some cheating), an intelligent horse and using mime to control the traffic...you gotta see that one.

In other news we hear that the American Declaration of Independence was illegal and a man in Devon has had himself mummified...after death of course. Finally, why do people changes names? Here's 25 people who did and their reasons.

Newsbiscuit.

First up, the scary story that health scares may be bad for you. If that wasn't bad enough the news that an MBA student has acted a bit C2 may jar.

Some good economic news come from the Homeopathic society who have suggested a great way to get the world back on track.

Headlines include, 'Firm seeking to create the perfect pair of trousers "making great strides"', 'Tragedy as mime artist falls into aquarium at Sea-world’ and 'Destitute herbalist living on borrowed thyme'.

As ever if you want to see the stories that almost made it, have a look at the writer's forum, with the usual warning that the language can get a bit fruity at times.

From the blogsphere comes a great word that you should ALL start using immediately: Esquisse. From the same blog comes information on the link between radishes and radicals.

Joke of the week: "My girlfriend said she wanted me to be more like her ex. So I dumped her."

My favourite comedy video of the week:




My favourite picture:



Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It Takes Time

About twenty years ago I started a course in public speaking. Over the course of two years, making twelve speeches on different subjects, listening to and evaluating hundreds more, I learnt how to speak in public effectively and without fear. Well, not much fear anyway.

For my first speech I was allowed 5 minutes and, like all the new people, I was wondering how on earth I was going to fill that 5 minutes without repeating myself endlessly or stumbling over my words. By the time I got to the end of the course, I was allowed 10 minutes and was wondering how I could keep within the time limit.

'What's this got to do with writing?' I hear you ask. Quite a lot.

When we first start out, we wonder how on earth we are going to write 80,000 words. How can I describe a mountain, a hill, a person? We look to other authors for help, but find that we can't replicate it, or when we do it sucks.

By the time we've been writing for a while, we wonder how we're going to keep the story under 150,000 words without missing out on vital details. It's how things go. We learn by practising our craft and by experimenting.

Today, look back at your early work and see how far you've come as a writer. Treat yourself for growing and learning and remember that in a few years time you'll be even better.

Enjoy the day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Yeeeuurrrrgggghhhhhh!

Ever have one of those weeks when all your plans are ground to dust? I've just had one.

The WIP is still stuck on chapters 4 & 5, but WILL get some work done on it tomorrow, I promise, especially as I have a 7th November deadline for completion.

In other progress, the play rehearsals are coming on nicely and I have managed to create the video advert for it. If you're in Hertfordshire around the 17-19 November, come and watch us, you won't regret it. If you do, there's no refund of the ticket price. (Hehehehehehe)

The publishing cupboard's website is almost there now...well the design is. Content is another matter, but that should be easy for a bunch of writers, shouldn't it? We almost have a logo and the overall feel of the site and layout is just about complete. When we have it ready, I'll post the link so you can have a sneak preview.

The biggest problem we're going to have is the launch. How do you launch a book when everything is electronic? How do you sign an electronic book? I have an idea or two, but I'm not going to tell you what they are...yet.

Watch this space...every Monday.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Fun

First up, what else but Oddbox. This week, a bungie-jumping granny, a zombie proposing marriage, the American Beard Festival and killer Turkeys.

The BBC is awash with oddness this week. First up, a man in the Philippines has had plastic surgery to look like Superman. and the tale of Zombies getting hurt in Canada.

One of the strangest stories, for me anyway, was the announcement of a new literary prize to compete with the Booker Prize. Why? According to these leading literary individuals, the Booker Prize "now prioritises a notion of 'readability' over artistic achievement". Maybe I'm being dense here, but shouldn't ALL books be readable?

Finally, did you know that all bananas are Radioactive?

Newsbiscuit

How to slash unemployment figures? Remove mothers. There is also a new way to reduce overcrowing on trains and increase capacity at the same time. Cuddle a commuter.

In other news David Bowie's Laughing Gnome has died...after a short illness, while in ecological news there are plans afoot to make water 'green'.

Headlines: 'Master baker's secret bread recipes kept on a knead to know basis'; 'Man with date of birth tattooed on his arm, fears he is beginning to show his age'; 'Thames flood barrier inventor dies - tributaries flood in'.

From the blogsphere, DRC has written about how NOT to name your characters using real life examples, and from the inky fool, the real meaning of 'lurch'.

To end the week, how about a couple of pictures.



Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happy?

There are many theories about how to gain and maintain happiness, but only a few of them work. With that in mind, and remembering that trying to write can be a happiness-destroying way of life, here are some scientifically proven methods to help you gain and maintain happiness.

1 - DON'T try and force negativity out of your mind. By focusing on it, you give it more strength. If you doubt me, force yourself to NOT think of a Polar Bear. Do something that will distract you instead.

2 - Create a diary. Not one of these where you record the events of the day and who did what to whom, but an 'expressive diary'. Over a period of five days, write entries according to the following structure:

Day 1 - Thanksgiving. Think of three things in your life for which you can be thankful, no matter how small.
Day 2 - Terrific Times. Write about one of the most wonderful experiences of your life.
Day 3 - Future Fantastic. Don't write about unachievable things, but about your attainable future, one that you COULD achieve if you work hard at it.
Day 4 - Dear.... Think about someone important in your life. Write a letter to them (in the diary) telling them why they are important and how much they mean to you.
Day 5 - Review the situation. Think back over the past seven days and list three things that went well for you, no matter how trivial. It could be a parking space near to the shops, or being offered a new job.

You won't need to do this every week, but only when you feel down.

3 - Buy something. As odd as this sounds it works as long as we keep in mind that the things we remember most are not items but experiences. When buying something, make it an experience such as a back massage or a trip to somewhere you've wanted to go. (It has been shown through research that people who obsess over and buy lots of 'things' lack self-esteem. They rarely lack arrogance, but they do lack self-esteem)

You can find out more from ':59 Seconds' by Professor Richard Wiseman, from which the above have been purloined.

See you on Friday.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Change and Edit - WIP

When reviewing a piece of work, some things only become clear during the edit stage. In my case it's realising that chapter 5 needs to be rewritten.

Well, not so much rewritten as re-placed. Having a character confined to their quarters after kicking seven bells out of seven marines is fine. Having her walk down a corridor thirty minutes later to see her daughter isn't. I will need to have the daughter come to her instead and redo some of the conversations as a result.

On the bright side, I have edited the first four chapters and am currently making notes on chapters 6-8 having now decided that chapter 5 needs reworking. What has become clear is that editing the latter chapters is far easier than the earlier ones as there are fewer mistakes with the plot.

Why? I'm glad you asked.

When you start out on a story, whether you plan it or not, you're still learning about the characters and the story. By the time you've written a third of it, you know what's going on and who's going to do what...at least for the most part. At least, that's my experience.

In other news, Starfish Publishing is getting nearer its goal. Our logo and website banner are almost complete and the layout/design for the site are also nearing completion. We should have it ready for viewing by the end of October, maybe sooner.

We will have two books for the launch, which looks likely to be the end of November, and our decision to go with the Kindle is looking even better now that Amazon have announced a sub £100 Kindle reader. The £100 price point (to coin a phrase) is important as above it there is a perception that an it needs to be saved for or thought about. Under £100 it can be a normal purchase for a significant number of people. (Normal in this sense means similar to a microwave or mobile phone)

We also have the possibility of a link with a well-known west end actor. He will write a small promotion for us and all we have to do is link to his facebook page from ours and the website. The advantage for us will be a foot in the door with a group of people, theatregoers, who are more likely to buy books in general and ebooks in particular.

More on this later.

In six weeks time I shall be on stage as an American in 'In Praise of Love'. Not much time to learn lines and rehearse, but I know we'll do it. Next week, I'll show you the poster I designed for the performance.

What do you mean you want to see it now? Oh, alright then, as you asked nicely.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Friday Fun

An absolute treasure trove this week, so I'll start with Oddbox. This week an enormous lego pupmkin, 12 cute, baby pandas and the worlds longest headed goal.

From the rest of the BBC there are some peaches. Ever got lost in a city, even if you have GPS? Me neither, but here are 6 ways to work out which direction you should go. Did you know that monkeys can control virtual arms with their minds? Neither did I. It comes alongside the sad news that you cannot lose weight by thinking about it. Guess I'll have to forget the doughnuts.

Newsbiscuit time.

The main stories have had a dig at American justice, Greece has discovered the penalty clauses in it's bailout by Germany and how NOT to be a father.

Shorter stories include 'Thinnest material known to man discovered in TV sitcoms' and one for the older generation, 'Milk Tray man finally caught after stalking women and leaving tawdry chocolate'.

Headlines: 'Greece receives Nobel prize for Economics', 'Steve Jobs jokes condemned as Un-PC' and 'Fake Steve Jobs seen in China'.

Do you like poking fun at religion? So do the christians at 'Ship of Fools'. The highlights of their site for lovers of comedy are the church signs and gadgets for god. Under 'general foolishness' you can find the fruitcake zone, full of people who are being serious, but shouldn't be taken that way.

Lastly, Steve Jobs RIP, picture courtesy of newsbiscuit.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

March of the Ebooks

I've written before about ebooks, but now, in the UK, they are about to take another leap forward as Amazon have launched a Kindle that costs less than £100.

For me, this is the watershed. I've believed for some time that once we get a sub £100 Kindle, then ebooks will take off, not because it's a Kindle, but because you can get the reader and the books in the same popular, widely known place. Watch this space.

On the subject of ebooks, one of the criticisms laid at their door is that they can be disposed of more easily and lost for future generations. This is, in the thinking of these people the polar opposite of what has happened to the paper and parchment works of Socrates and the penny dreadfuls...oh...they have disappeared. Works by Donne and other enlightenment authors have also been lost despite being written and printed. And this is just in the western world.

How many great works were destroyed in the fifteenth century when the Chinese turned inwards? What marvels never survived from the ancient empires of Africa, such as Egypt, Ghana and Zimbabwe? Works from Babylonia, the Moghul empire and many others from around the globe have also been lost, their authors not even remembered.

No doubt those who suggested writing things on papyrus and parchment were told that there works would be ephemeral by those who carved their tales into rock and clay. In short, literature has always disappeared and rarely by deliberate destruction.

The people who dismiss ebooks as a bad way to keep literature safe also neglect to mention that the British Library, amongst others, store ebooks, but I think there is another reason: Ego.

Some of those that dismiss ebooks are not worried about literature in general, but their books in particular. They fear that their grand works will be lost to future generations and their names will not even be footnotes in the history yet to be written. They fear mortality.

This is not true of everyone who worries over the future of literature, as they do have the good of the written word at heart. But for a significant number of those who 'worry', it is the future of their own reputations that lie at the heart of their dismissive attitude. They are similar to those politicians who see the teaching of history as a record of great events so that one day their names will be remembered. They fear history as a record of life instead of dates and 'great people'.

Ebooks have their problems, they can be deleted when someone has finished with them and lost, but so can novels when they are remaindered, given away or even put in the bin. It is a technological step forward and may end with more people reading more books in the same way that printing opened up reading to many more people. No one knows where this will lead yet, nor can we tell what the consquences will be.

The digitising of music may have hurt the music industry, but live music has been given a shot in the arm and bands can now sell direct to their fanbase. Will the same happen with literature? Will we see the rise of book readings by authors? The growth of local authors over international ones? Is JK Rowling the last of the international big sellers?

Who knows.

It is worth considering a quote: 'Nothing produced by any human is so important that it has to be kept for all eternity, no matter what we may think of our own greatness.'

Monday, October 03, 2011

The WIP Report

I have started the next phase of the novel, which is getting the plotholes removed and adding/removing description.

It has taken me a day to finish chapter one, so I should finish all of them within two weeks as this is one of the long chapters. I have still to make notes on chapters 5 to 12, but I'll wait until I'm finished with the notes I've made on the first four until I do. That way I won't introduce any errors.

If you're desperate to read some of my work in the meantime, feel free to buy my short story collection, It Can Be Done It Should Be Done, which I've advertised on the right. No comedy in there, but some excellent writing nonetheless (come on you didn't think I was going to trash it did you?). Go on, you know you want to.

KATS have started to rehearse their latest production, In Praise of Love by Terrence Rattigan, and I am playing an American called Marcus. If you have any hints on doing an American accent, let me know as I end up sounding Australian.

We've had a false start already not being able to cast Habeus Corpus, so we're a month behind on rehearsals. As we're performing in 7 weeks time this is going to be tough, but I know I can do it, even if I end up in a dark corner whimpering after the final night.

Still, I'm looking forward to cutting bits out of it as the director has decided it's too long and I have my red pen at the ready. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Fun

First up...who else but Oddbox. This week an orange croc, large vegetables, laughing yoga and a man skydiving through a mountain. Yes I said through.

Elsewhere on the Beeb, we have a flying carpet made of plastic and the Ignobel awards that include a prize for determining that some Australian beetles have sex with beer bottles. Not only that, but scientists have developed a self-healing plastic.

Newsbiscuit has been quiet this week, but the headlines have been occasionally good. 'Saudi insurers won't pay out on whiplash claims', 'Jackson doctor: He was all white when I left him', 'Family of late pacemaker inventor say "his heart will go on"', 'Fencing company announces loss of 3000 posts' and 'Seven injured at Italian sign language conference'.

In the blogsphere, a young lady called (name hidden for privacy reasons) has amazed the world with her awesomeness. In order not to overwhelm people she has hidden her blog from public view so I cannot show you a link. If I did, MI6 would have to kill me. The Inky Fool has given the world some interesting words this week including Bumbershoots (a word we just have to get into common usage), but the most interesting piece was the discovery that Dickens was down with the hoods. Bookends Literary Agency does get some odd emails, but this one as a query was precious, especially when the author states that they are single and available.

That's all for this week, have a great weekend and I shall see you on Monday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How Do You Write?

Good question.

1) Write the story out, ignoring all plotholes, spelling mistakes and repetitions.

2) Remove the repetitions, plotholes and spelling mistakes

3) See what needs expansion and expand it, such as descriptions of places or giving background details of the world/environment/person

4) Prune it...severely.

5) Edit it for mistakes, errors

6) Put it in a drawer and forget about it for a month or so

7) Reread and make any necessary changes

8) Send it off.

Now promise you won't share my secrets with anyone else.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday WIP Progress

After completing the whole of draft 1 last week, I have started the tidying up operation known as draft 2. Five chapters down, seven to go.

After that, I will be doing draft 3, which will consist of printing everything out, making notes, finding plot holes that I've missed, removing/adding description and explanation and making sure that people know why the characters act the way they do.

After some more feedback at tonight's writer's group, I am sure that the story is hanging together well and making sense, but there are some things about the characters which don't add up. Why did one person's mood change so suddenly? Why does someone need to explain something three times? Why don't the marines have names?

The hard work continues.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Fun

First up, it's oddbox. This week, painted Rhinos in Brazil, a sleeping politician and a gig powered by bikes.

From elsewhere on the Beeb, we have the story of 40,000 women and children watching a match because the men had been banned, how the Maldives fell for an internet prank, how Turkey is preparing for people rising from the dead and the curious story that the speed of light may NOT be the fastest we can go. If it is true, then yah-boo to all you killjoys that say Warp drive is impossible.

Newsbiscuit.

Why bother buying an exercise machine you'll never use? One man took his straight to the dump to avoid storing it. In the wake of a UNICEF report stating that kids want time not presents, one child hits back saying that kids DO prefer the gifts.

Headlines include, 'Greeks to increase amount of taxes no one's going to pay', 'Workers in flooded ruler factory saved by raft of measures', 'Interest in 2012 dressage medals fixed', 'Republicans Oppose Obama's Dinner Plans' and 'Pizza chain goes into liquidation, economists fear Dominoes effect'.

In the blogsphere, the Inky Fool has proven that Donkeys and Bureaucrats are the same and some thought-provoking ideas about legendary creatures from DRC.

With that, I wish you a happy weekend wherever you are.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inspiration

I've written about inspiration before and where you can find it, but now I have something else: Books.

OK, that sounds obvious, but what kind of books? you ask. This one, 'B**llocks to Alton Towers'.

The profanity aside, this is a seriously entertaining book about typical British days out, the kind that don't involve being thrown around at 120 miles an hour held on to a piece of metal by some rigid plastic. Nor do they involve waiting in a queue in the rain for half an hour before you can get on said ride.

Most of them are unusual and, sadly, rarely visited, but give an insight into British life that is only glimpsed in passing and not known anywhere else in the world...unless the Brits colonised the place.

There's the lawnmower museum in Southport above a hardware store and a diesel train ride in Scotland that ends up at the Glenfiddich brewery. The diesel trains are 1970s BR stock complete with stickers, but the service is far better. Not that that was a particularly high mark to improve upon.

Then there are the sea battles between toy destroyers and battleships of the 20th century in Scarborough where grown men, in age if not in mind, shoot rockets at each other three times a week.

So what has this got to do with inspiration? Background characters. People that you only see once or twice, or who hold the secret key. With the information here, you can build hobbies and interests into your world that will make it seem more real.

Of course, this isn't the only book available. There are many others that can be found in the travel section of a book shop, often at knock down prices if you buy those that are a few years out of date. What they have are characters that will fill your world and your writing with personality, style and supreme oddness. In short, they'll make it real.

Have a hunt around and get inspired.