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.

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.

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'.


Monday, December 12, 2011


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 and they jumped at 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

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

Sunday, December 04, 2011


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.