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.


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


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.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday WIP Report

It's finished, done, complete. Now all I have to do is edit it.

The word count is currently 58,629, but that will change as I cut bits out, add other bits in, jazz up the descriptions and make some people even more insane than myself or the Vegetable Assassin. (If you haven't come across her blog before, please go there and catch up on her rants about life which will continue when she's back from holiday)

For those of you who are interested, which should be all of you, the last line of the book is 'get me a bucket of cold water', and with that I'll leave you to guess what's happening.

The wedding scene was a joy to write, as was the moment when...nah, I'll leave you in suspense. I've had some good feedback on the first few chapters which I shall take into account when editing even if I ignore it.

The website for Starfish Publishing Cupboard is coming on and we now have some pages to discuss and argue over, which you can see and comment on at:
All of them are in the development stage and the layout will change a lot before we release the site in November, but I'm always open to ideas and massive amounts of praise. If nothing else, it gives us something to throw out when we get a better idea.

So if you have any ideas for a front page, number of pages, or what you would like to see on a publishing house/cupboard website, let me know in the comments section.

With that, I shall wish you adieu and see you on Wednesday when I shall be more serious and pass on some more helpful advice about writing and language.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Fun

First up: the oddbox. This week the highlight is a jet-powered school bus in America, but there's also the wife-carrying championships in Latvia and a drunken Elk.

Elsewehere on the BBC, a cat who was driven 17 a car engine and news that laughter is the best medicine. In some good news for the environment, the top 16 'green' companies are uncovered.

And now...ta-da-da-daaaaaaaaa...Newsbiscuit.

Top Headlines. In the wake of the (unsurprising) news that new British homes are too small for families, we've had 'cat concussions at all-time high in new housing estates'. Other headlines: 'Debt-riddled clockwork toy maker faces winding up order', 'Man with 20/20 vision sees cricket everywhere' (if you're American that one may pass you by), 'DJOKOVIC impossible to beat claims Scrabble champ' and finally 'Godot arrives'.

The major news stories of the week include the horrific story of Churchill the Dog and Madonna's new film not being what people expected.

In the blogsphere, Freya Morris has given her list of the top ten children's baddies.

On that note, I shall say goodbye to this week and not embarrass my middle son by telling anyone how he got his first hangover or who he groped. I'll save that for the future when I need to blackmail him.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Words Don't Come Easy

First up, kudos if you can name the song the title of this blog came from and who performed it.

Words are the stock in trade of a writer, but that doesn't mean you need an encyclopeadic knowledge of the complete 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary, or even the pocket edition. In the words of Stephen King, 'you have what you need'.

It never hurts, though, to have other words available and other resources that don't cost a fortune. Aside from a decent dictionary and thesaurus, which I hope you have, a book on idioms and phrases would be useful, but not essential. Go into any decent bookshop and you'll find quite a few, whilst secondhand bookshops will have even more. Don't neglect older versions either, especially if you're writing historical fiction as knowing how they used words 'back in the day' will help add to the realism of your book.

The internet is full of useful sites.

Wikipedia is much maligned, but the entries on language and science tend to be accurate as they are less contentious than biographies and history. Not free from contention obviously, but less so.

The Inky Fool is a great blog that has a new word every day, and the author has a book out at the moment, just in time for Christmas. Isn't that strange?

If you feel like paying OED a subscription you can have online access to their 20 volume edition and its supplements. is another useful site allowing you to find definitions of many words. It also has a word of the day, a thesaurus and several other gimmicky things you may or may not like.

Words may not come easy, but there are always methods and resources to improve our vocabulary and knowledge. Have fun exploring and share some of your own sites and books below.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Progress

A Stitch In Time is the current title of the book but will no doubt change before I'm finished with it. If you have any ideas about a title based on what you know about the book, let me know. I'm always happy to pilfer...errr...accept help.

Chapter 11 is now finished and the book is at 55,000 words for the first proper draft, so all that remains is the wedding and the big fight. I've had some good feedback on the first four chapters from my writer's group which will help me with stage 2: the edit.

I've ended the threat from baddy number 2 in a manner which came as a surprise to me, leaving the chapter to end with the following conversation:

Another large section was released into space and Carla asked her cousin, “Are you going to rescue the Dagon?”
“At some point.”

Baddy number 1 has had his backside kicked around the main hall before being whisked away to some unknown place and time by his robot, and the three main characters are now looking forward to a life of familial bliss. As if I'm going to let that happen, this is fiction not reality. Oh yeah, no difference.

I don't think I'll need more than one chapter to wrap this up, but you never know what's lurking in the corners of my mind and you really don't want to find out. Believe me, it's horrible in there.

The ebook publishing cupboard is in the process of being filled with books. We have my one, two others being written and edited and some short stories to add to the pile for a collection. The website is being prepared with its new logos and we are expanding our ideas of where we can market the result as, I'm sure you all know, marketing is harder than writing.

With that, I shall wish you all adieu and promise to see you on Wednesday.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday Things

First up on the tour of the weeks interesting things (interesting to me that is), is BBC's Oddbox. This week's edition contains the ginger festival in Breda, a flashmob doing the Hakka in New Zealand and the dog with the world's longest ears.

Also on the Beeb is a story about a drunken Elk that got caught in a tree, two chatbots (computer programs) having an argument and a set of fascinating photos from Astonomy Picture of the Year.

From the multi-talented writers of Newsbiscuit, the week has seen some absolute gems. A fleeing Gadaffi failing to escape charity collectors, a comedic comment on the files found at the Libyan leader's compound, and a scientific report stating that young women don't fancy middle-aged men.

Among the headlines to make it were, 'Gaddafi rues the appointment of Mark Thatcher as North African route consultant', 'New moon landing site photo reveals wheel clamp', 'Sweet and sour spare ribs with dark soy sauce heads Chinese super-rich list' and my personal favourite, 'High 50p tax rate damages economy, say highest-earning economists'.

In the blogsphere, Inky Fool continues to amaze with some words that I've never heard of before and there is some more publishing success from a fellow writer, whose prose you should check out.

With that, I shall sign off and wish you all a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Who Is Your Muse?

Stephen King, in his book 'On Writing' (yes that one again) describes his muse as a grumpy old bloke with a smoker's cough. My muse is altogether more delicate. Well sort of.

She looks middle aged, but as she is long dead her real age is a mystery, and one of her joys in life is annoying Douglas Adams by making him tea with boiled water instead of boiling water. She has a sly and wicked sense of humour which comes in handy when I'm writing and also when I'm reading.

I never had a muse before I turned my hand to writing comedy, which is probably a good sign that I'm now on the right track. She turned up after I'd started my re-write of my novel, about chapter 5, and has refused to leave me alone, bugging me to write until I do.

Thankfully she is used to keeping odd hours and is quite happy to turn up at 2am if that's when I feel the urge. She sits there in cotton pyjamas and pink bunny slippers reading a book, occasionally looking over my shoulder and correcting a few things. Why pyjamas? She thinks that a nightgown would distract me, though I think she overestimates her pulling power.

During the day she is casually dressed and is always telling me to take a break when I've finished a section or chapter and to think about the next part before I write. Sometimes I listen to her.

A slim brunette (dyed probably), she says the lines around her eyes are laughter lines: her life must have been a riot. Her name is unknown to me, but she is a wonderful person to have round when I'm writing, even when saying nothing.

Thankyou, my muse, for taking me this far.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday W.I.P-ing

I'm nearly at the end of the first proper draft of this book and the wordcount, for those of you interested, is 51,000. To be precise it's 50,967, but what the heck.

Chapter 10 is done and the shooting didn't go as I had planned, but much better. Someone still got shot, but by a different person with a different weapon and instigated by someone not utterly insane.

Chapter 11 will now see the aliens arrive at the planet with a new weapon and...Nah I'm not telling you that. It does look as thought there will be at least two more chapters and maybe three as I have to get a wedding in as well as a fight involving the bride which she wins.

If you've ever seen Firefly/Serenity, imagine River, three times as big (Summer Glau is tiny), three times as old, far more attitude, the same fighting prowess and you'll get an idea of the bride. If you haven't seen Firefly/Serenity, go and watch it, then you'll know. The groom is more like her brother, but softer...much softer.

It's looking good and as I no longer have a word count to aim for I'm just letting the story take me where it will, providing it ends up where I want it to.

The ebook publishing is proceeding and the website design is coming along. Sadly, we have lost one novel due to personal problems, but we may well pick up another in its place.

That's all for now. Have a great couple of days and see you on Wednesday.

Friday, September 02, 2011

It's Firday

OK, so it's really Friday, but whenever I try to type Friday, it usually ends up as Firday. Among other common mistakes are slef instead of self and fro instead of for.

Enough of the self-abasement, time for the humour.

The BBC, as usual has it's share of the odd, the wierd and the funny in the form of the Oddbox. 10 strange videos from the week, including a tomato festival, a cow in a shop and two reporters getting in trouble.

From elsewhere we have 20 suggestions for burying people, hopefully after they are dead, the scientific reason that men go bald and what the government does with the information it collects on you...and why they collect it.

Newsbiscuit time. Events in Libya are still proving fruitful, with the hunt for Gadaffi reaching into Tripoli's nightlife. Elsewhere, a programmer admits to have never seen 'The Matrix'. Headlines include 'Ned Kelly definitely dead say scientists', 'UK's summer 'coolest since 1993', say style gurus', 'Dying man regrets having so many regrets' and 'Librarian furious about noise at Reading festival'.

In the blogshpere, there is an interesting piece about the link between currants and brothels and one about creating a world of fairies.

Enjoy your weekend. I'm going to a party on Saturday night to see people I haven't seen in years.