A Hatful of Brownie Points

A day off. On a Friday. So what can I do? Well, clearly I can't not do a Microcosms, can I?

Microcosms 350

So yip, a quick 300 words later I've gone and done three Microcosms in four weeks. I'm awarding myself a hatful of brownie points. Shame they can't be used as currency anywhere.

For the first time ever I've spun and chosen three different story elements than was originally provided. I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me.

Anyway, still plenty of time for you guys to get your story on.

Comments

November Writing Project

There was the little decision earlier in the week not to drop in and try a second NaNoWriMo. It was a pretty easy call to make without any plan in place and more pertinently a lack of surety of my available time this month. The writing projects I had in mind at the start of the year have stalled and are still in sight of the starting blocks. Rather than invent yet another goal (to complete NaNo) I have decided to get back on to one of the original projects and after a little deliberation I have decided that it will be: Project 1 - A Short Story Collection. Let's face it, it shouldn't have taken too much thought to come up with doing the damn things in the order I came up with them!

Project 1 is a series of 12 short stories, initially aimed at being between 1500-3000 words each, that's a total of 18k-36k. Given I've done two already then that means probably about 1000 words a day if I aim to do them in November - or a short story ever two days or so (compared to a consistent 1667 a day to do NaNo).

In terms of achieving 12 stories that work, are independent of each other and stand up the key thing in such a short space of time will be the number and depth ideas. So this month driving time = ideas time.

Of course whilst this is to some extent to replace NaNo as a driving force to complete a 'work' it's not like I won't have achieved anything if I don't finish them all by the end of the month; I'm not going to issue myself with an internet Badge for completion or reward myself with a T-Shirt. If it goes over by a week or even more then so be it. But the main thing is to drive something forward and to at least attempt to complete one of the goals I set myself at the start of the year.

bridge
Not crossing that bridge, yet.

The ultimate aim will be to get 12 stories together that I am happy with and that I can self publish some time in the new year. It'll probably just be Kindle, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Then again if I have 12 stories I'm happy with then maybe I'll just have a bank of 12 stories I can submit to publications... Anyway, like I say, get over that bridge when I get to it.

Comments

FlashFeeding

A few years ago there were several flash challenge options to write for. I particularly loved Angry Hourglass and Flash Friday Fiction and really enjoyed the Microbookends challenge too. But now all three of these are no more. The only existing one I do quite regularly these days is Microcosms, but unfortunately with it only being live for 24 hours (and that being a Friday too) it is often difficult to fit in writing for it.

FlashDogs

So it was great to see the arrival of FlashFeed last week. Many of the FlashDogs got together through seeing each other on the AH and Flash Friday websites and if it wasn't for these challenges we never would have got to the position of having our stories published in the Flash Dogs books. It's great that it is live for several days giving more chance of people getting something done for it. The prompt is a photo prompt and there have been two striking images so far. The two thousand character (circa 300 word) limit is a decent length, similar to AH; long enough to get a nice story told and short enough not to scare you off. Got an hour? Get it done...

Kudos to the guys and gals who are running FlashFeed and let's see where that goes. Who knows, there maybe newbies out there who develop their writing chops on FlashFeed and I'm no doubt the community will grow and be a comforting blanket for all who come along.

Why not head over to
www.theflashdogs.com and give it a go?

FlashFeed2
FlashFeed2 photo prompt




Comments

Mo Writing on Project X

I did finish the Calendark piece on Saturday and got it sent off - some 5550 words of it. Why I always leave it up to the deadline heaven only knows. Not sure about it and the day I've submitted it for already had a piece written for it, so who know? Anyway whatever, so be it.

The main thing is I got a piece finished. Woo-flippin-hoo!

P1020399
P1020410

Now then, what next? Well, I've still got all those bloody Projects to do... so maybe one of those. I will take a moment (or day) or two to think about that, but one way or another I'll be doing something on one of them this time next week. I'm sure.

#ProjectX



Comments

Words down

After sorting the printer out I wrote 1600 words for Calendark this morning in around 90 minutes. Not bad at all. Now I'm not saying they are good words but they're words I didn't have yesterday. So now I have over 5800 words for the story down on paper (well Hard Drive). Well okay, paper now, as I've printed it out (I did fix the printer after all). Now I have reading to do and some very serious editing.

There's a lot to do.

There will be blood, bread and tears.

And a lot of editing.

#AmWriting
Comments

#AmPrinting

Today's game involved writing, sausage butties and fixing the printer. First up was the sausage. There were no problems there at all. Then came the Printer...

It may save you £20 and a day or two waiting for a fix to read this:

The printer is an Epson WP: 4535 and the error message read 'Maintenance Box is not recognised'. The maintenance box collects the waste ink produced during the cleaning of the printer heads etc and once full the box needs replacing. Looked it up on the net and most the searches came up with how to replace a maintenance box and nothing to do with the message. Saw a couple of references which all were 'solved' by online questioning with the answer 'replace maintenance box'. Cheap boxes (including shipping) are around £20 (and obviously include a wait of a day or two to arrive). Frustrating in view of the writing I want to do today. Got to the point of ordering but thought I'd quickly check out the box a few more times.

WP4535

I turned off the printer and switched it on a few times. Same result. Switched off and took out the box and put it in again. Same results. Not looking good.

Box

Took out box, wiped finger over the chip on the box and put it in... and hey presto! Problem solved. Err, so dust or dirt on the chip? FFS. Anyway, sorted. I can print again. And edit/write.

Now for the writing. Dang, I've got no excuses for attempting Calendark now.

#amprinting
Comments

Calendark: Plan

Off tomorrow and first thing I need to do is see if I can fix the printer. Really hope I can as I find it so hard to edit straight on the computer screen.

Then I need to get on with my Calendark story. Hoping to get toward the end with it tomorrow if I can. To be honest it needs to be, doesn't it? Maybe no Twitter tomorrow (in the morning at least), I will need to be strong, so strong! If I can do it then I will be well chuffed and will celebrate like it's September 26th. Or something like that.

Blood

Basic Plan: first off, a decent sleep tonight. Then sausage butty and printer fixing. Then writing writing writing with coffee coffee coffee.

sausage


If I can do it then I may celebrate with a visit to 3 pubs I haven't been to in Liverpool (yes, they exist) and then there is the Liverpool Champion's League match to consider too. Umm...

Beside writing and the printer issue this week I could consider upgrading my MacBook Pro to the new High Sierra OS. But that is a scary process to undertake and defo needs to wait until Calendark is done and dusted...

HighSierra

#AmWriting (or planning to)
Comments

Calenedark Going Dark

Been a bit of slowed going since last Friday in terms of writing for Calendark when I was already up at 3500 words - with an ultimate aim to get to between 5 and 6000 words for the full story. I've managed another 550 words tonight but I'm conscious time is a ticking and I am worrying a bit about finishing the story even with a whole TEN days till the deadline day. Mad really. I mean it's not many words, but getting the story to work is a worry (in fact currently more scary than the story is).

I did update my Buffer for the songs for the next ten days (some quite old classics coming up and many shy of 3 minutes long to keep with Sal's attention span (Pink Floyd? Tush)) so I don't need to spend any time doing that (or using it to procrastinate with) over this last week.

Let's face it I should get there - I seriously need to. Just need to schedule a few hours over two or three nights then have one serious editing day. Surely while the Sword of Damocles swings above my head I'll focus enough to get there. Surely?

Erm... that said my printer is currently out of action. Procrastination, moi?
Comments

Seasons of Shorts and Check Shirts

It's hard to believe it's September already. Where has this effing year gone? It's almost harder to believe that this time last year it was the hottest part of 2016. Thirty odd degrees centigrade?! This month is bucking the trend for September to be a really nice month; I'm thinking it may be time to upgrade from the shorts and T-shirt and get to trousers and hoodie a month early for work, but for now I'm persevering with the shorts. Can we please have a nice day or two, pretty please?

Drink-ajw2

Forgetting months this week has sped faster than Cassini through Saturn's rings and so far I've not written my next 2000 words for the Calendark story. I said I'd do it by the end of the week so I've still a few days to do it, but with birthday drinks and birthday recovery there are no guarantees. We'll see.

Might write; a quick 500 or so this afternoon.

Might write, right?

But first a pint then maybe another five and a half... season change, but my check shirts don't.

Cheers!!

DSC_0183
Drink-ajw
Drink-AJW3
Drink-AJW4
Drink-AJW5
Drink-AJW6
Comments

Bloody Success

Woo Hoo! I set myself a target to get to 3000 words by Sunday for my attempt to get a piece into Calendark and (drum roll please) in fact I've got to >3500 already - yes, it's Friday (the one before, not after). So big clappy hands all around.

So far it's a few scenes and It'll defo need a lot of editing but I'm happy there's a story here.

The first hard thing before the editing though is to write the real horror bit (the last third of the story). Tension building will be key but how I work out how to do the bloody end is bloody difficult.

Blood

Comments

Am Writing Some

Got delayed coming back from North Wales tonight due to a big crash on the A494 by Queensferry. Unfortunately that made me get back too late to get to the Poised Pen meeting. But when two people die in a car crash such delays, whilst annoying, should be put in perspective. I'm late but not late of this parish, as it were.

Anyway, not making it to the meeting at least gave me some reading and writing time. I'm still getting on with Titus Groan from the Gormenghast trilogy. I'm about a third in and it's a great read so far.

Then there is the writing and like I said on Sunday I want to write at least 1800 words this week to get the total up to around 3000 words by Sunday. I've managed in my free time tonight then to get 800 words into this with (worryingly, just a part of) one of the scenes of my story. I'm worried it may be a bit complex and it is definitely initially going to be over long. But getting the words down for the scenes as I see them now is the main thing and then I can look at culling and sharpening it up in the second half of the month (assuming I finish the first draft by say 17th September).

So far so good.

With the difference in scenes and the spread of time involved the editing process is going to be key (or a total nightmare) but it is a decent challenge. So thank you Shakes for the chance to write something more substantial than a flash. Once I get this out of the way then I'll drop back on to one of my projects for sure. Honest.
Comments

Not Two Thousand, But Not Nothing

A week ago I said I'd start Calendark and aim to get two thousand words done in the week - and that I'd report back.

Well, here's the report: I've only managed just over 1250 words, but hey it's a start. I've got as far as the pub (yep, there has to be a pub in it) and it's a nice pub. The dark stuff is yet to happen (and that is not a Guinness by the way). In fact all the bit I've done so far is all nice and normal. Too normal. Something must be wrong. Very wrong.

Err, well it will be when I get to that. There another 4-5000 words to get the weird shit in. Will keep you posted. Want to have done at least 3000 words by this time next week (i.e. be half finished). Anyway main thing is I am actually writing.

Cheers!
Comments

Calendark - The Beginning

#AMWRITING

I said I'd try and do a couple of thousands words towards a CalendarK piece by Sunday and I can report that I have at least started it. So far just 500 words or so into it, but I could well get to the 2000 word mark by close of play on Sunday me thinks. It's starting off all nice and normal... but I can foresee it heading into Wickerman territory...

Wickerman1

or maybe more Stepford Wives...

Stepford

or perhaps a bit Rosemary's Baby...

Rosemary

Well dang! Let's see where it goes.

It's just the beginning.

Comments

A Different Day Today

CalendarK1


Last week I picked my Day to attempt to write a story for, for Shakes' CalenDark and then came up with a germ of an idea - I even wrote some words (really, I did). Today I've changed my mind and chosen another day. As soon as I picked it an idea formed more completely in my mind and it should be easier to write it with the story arc pretty well defined. Of course now I have 'just ' to write the fucker. A month to go: No problem. Err... anyway the aim is to get a couple of thousand words done over the next week - as a minimum. Will report back by this time next week.

Baltic

Of course this weekend it's a Bank Holiday and that means more time for writing with a three day weekend, right? Wrong. Worked Saturday and working Monday. So only off today. May get a few words down, but main thing was getting this idea sketched out - an achievement in itself. Liverpool being Liverpool there is loads on at the moment. Disappointed to miss the Mad Hatter Brewery Yard Party yesterday, but today I think I'll go and check out the folk festival at the Albert Dock and/or the shanty groups down at the Baltic Fleet for a bit this afternoon.

Salah

Then of course there will be a few choice ales watching the Liverpool v Arsenal match. Come on you mighty reds!


Comments

Plonk

Sara walked through the anonymous Salford street laden with stuffed shopping bags, everything ticked off, the meals for the week ahead sorted and some special coffee to make when she gets back; her treat for a morning’s work well done. She looks tired and haggard, worn down by life’s daily grind. The one brightness the white fluffy clouds printed on her thin faded jeans. She says they make her feel good, like she’s walking in clouds if not up on them. Stephen hates them. But he doesn't matter. She phones him when she’s drunk and wants sex. Her drunken lover without love, his view doesn’t warrant a second thought. She used to feel guilt about these calls but not anymore. A woman has needs and he’s happy to oblige if he’s about. And while he laughs at the cloudy jeans it doesn’t stop him providing the service she wants from him. She checks the top of the Lidl bag for the bottle of white plonk, it wasn't on the list but it’s there. She’d give Stephen a call later.

corkscrew
Comments

Time and That Angry Hourglass

The news came out earlier this week that Angry Hourglass is no more - even if it is one day ripe for resuscitation - and it is a sad week because of it. POTUS tweeted that it was 'the biggest worsest and most scariest news and probably FAKE NEWS' and then confusing in subsequent tweets threatened 'to nuke the servers holding the AH website' And then blamed China. Like that would help.

AH

Whilst I disagree with Trump on the nuke option (and blaming China) I do agree that it is bad news. My two favourite flash fiction challenges over the last few years have been Flash Fiction Friday (who couldn't love all those dragons) and Angry Hourglass. Both quite different but both had a great community of regular writerers producing some fab stories. Indeed it was the community that met through these two challenges that went on to form the bulk of the Flash Dog Kennels. Back in the day Friday's were for Flash Friday and Saturday or Sunday were for AH and now... well there's Microcosms on Friday if it fits with work and stuff. And of course that is the thing; it's even in the byline of AH 'Time is Short. So is our fiction.'

We struggle as individuals to put in an entry ever week or two and if we don't make it we may be disappointed with ourselves but so be it: our time is limited. Then there's the guys and gals that organise these challenges like LadyHazmat (aka Rebecca Allred). They have to spend time putting the things together each and every week: Putting together that challenge photos/phrases and ideas; Writing the blurb; Organising the judges; Uploading the results; Getting a new judge for next week; coming up with a new challenge; etc... And they have their life - and maybe even writing to do too.

Over previous years I set myself writing goals to 'win' Flash Fiction Friday and then Angry Hourglass. I think the first time I won AH was one of the sweetest moments because the quality was always so high and I had begun to think it was an impossible task. I can't remember who the judge was that week (I think once it may have been Sal?) but whoever it was thanks muchly.

I can only take my metaphoric hat off to each and every person who've been involved in producing and maintaining all these challenges over the months and years and I have nothing but happy thoughts and best wishes for all of you.

Many many thanks to all the Rebeccas (and any none Rebeccas). Angry Hourglass will be fondly remembered by many of us.

Cheers!!
Comments

Gathering Pre Brexit Cups in May

Other than the odd Friday Microcosms I haven't written much over the last month. There's no excuses. Well, there are plenty but I can't be arsed using them. Just bloody put some words down fella!

On the day that Liverpool have learned they are to meet the Bundesliga team Hoffenheim in the Champions League Qualifier I'm currently reading 'Here We Go Gathering Cups in May' (edited by Nicky Allt). It is a series of memoir pieces about each of the seven European Cup Finals Liverpool have reached with a different writer for each of the finals:

Cups In May

Contributors:

Nicky Allt,
Tony Barrett,
Jegsy Dodd,
Peter Hooton,
Dave Kirby,
John Maguire and
Kevin Sampson.

It's funny reading the stories of football (and football supporting) past and even more past. Some of it takes me right back whilst it's also an eye opener on how different the events can be for different people in the same place doing the same thing. I'm half way through so haven't got through to the legend that is Istanbul yet, which is the only European Cup Final I've been to (although I also went to Athens for the Final in 2007 but didn't get a ticket or get in (which is not necessarily the same thing)), but it's making me think that I should write my Istanbul experience next as one of my Limited Edition memoir pieces.

Istanbul
Reds (and three Italians) beside the Blue Mosque.

Reading this as the draw for the cup was made makes me want to get on the old Football Special to Hoffenheim, well maybe not. But I've loved going to watch footy matches over in Europe (random matches not Liverpool ones) and met some good people through that; especially through the European Football Weekends crew.
Munich
In the Allianz Arena, Munich for an 1860 match (before getting the train to Salzburg for another match).

I'm off out shortly for a mooch and will be with camera for photos, pounds for ale - and a pad and pen for getting some words down.

Word.

Remember folks, You'll Never Walk Alone

Comments

The Heart of the Matter

Really enjoying my reading at the moment and have just finished Graham Greene's 'The Heart of the Matter' which I really enjoyed; Scobie is a really great slightly messed up character. Will have to keep my eye out for them showing the old Trevor Howard film on the tellybox.

I'm now 27 books in to my aimed 40 for the year. In my last fifteen books I've read three Pratchetts, two Lessings, one Tolkien and one Tolkien piss-take - a bit of a fantasy/SF leaning at the mo (as per). I've only read a couple of non-fiction books; one on beer and one on maps - two fab subjects!

More Reading
GoodReads book list - completed reading

Whilst all this reading can be put down as a little training for a beginner writerer I need to get these writing projects of mine properly kick started. I need to finish at least one of my four projects this year. At least one! A bit on Project 1 or 2 today me thinks... watch this space.






Comments

Reviewing & Editing

Not a bad couple of days for reading and writing. I was asked to 'Beta' review a novel which I've finally done. Was a great read and I can't wait to see it finished. Was nice to be asked to do it and am looking forward to Tweeting about it when it comes out!

Went back today to
'Fergie Time' and through some editing, all the way through to the end of Chapter 2. I'm not sure I'm doing a good enough job on it. Maybe by the third edit I'll be doing it properly - it's my first big job as it were after all.

Anyway
Project 3 edit so far: <15%
Comments

Time Comes Around

It's been a while but I've finally got around to writing something for Miranda's weekly challenge over at 'Finding Clarity'

It was a great photo for
Week 13, why not give it a go? Word Count is up to 700 (with no minimum):

Week13Photo


When the Wheels of Time went Round and Round
A.J. Walker

The giant cogs and wheels kept grinding on slow and steady circling in a audacious dance. Smaller cogs and gearing sent them off at different speeds and in different directions. The noise was constant and not unpleasant. Young Joshua was aghast at the size of the place it was beyond his comprehension. It was mesmerising; and to think his dad worked here!

‘Room after room dad. How many rooms? Perpetual motion. It’s just like perpetual motion. Don’t they ever stop, how do you keep them going?’

‘Not perpetual motion son. When the tides stop the machines will stop too.’

‘But the tides have never stopped, have they? Why would they?’ There was a little tremble in his voice.

‘There are no guarantees.’ His father smiled. ‘But in our lifetimes I can’t see them stopping. Can you?’

‘No. Never.’

And the machines ground on. In one room it was grinding flour and you couldn’t see one wall from across to the other for the yellow fog, in another ropes were lifting laden casks from a boat to the second floor as if they were as light as a feather, in the next lowering crates onto a wagon. His father walked passed an open door making to leave. Joshua peered into the room. The wheels turned here too and in this one great vats of gently bubbling liquid were being mixed by gargantuan spoons. The surface of the dark purple liquid popped and fizzed and an iridescence splashed across the little waves. Even by the door the atmosphere stung his eyes and the odours were like nothing Joshua could approach describing.

‘What’s this dad?’

‘This? This is out of bounds lad. Forget you have seen it.’

‘Forget what?’

‘Good boy.’

In the years that followed when he saw oils on a puddle or even a rainbow in a moody sky he often thought of that place. That indescribable smell and the secret held with his dad. He was sure it must have been something magical, the colours of magic in a purple blackness. It had to be. But maybe it was dangerous too. The colour of many deaths. He’d almost asked any number of people about that room, but in the end he held on to it like a private jewel.

The summer sun was scorching his parched creased face but he was too tired and old to care and the feeling was tempered by the cool water pulsing over his feet. The tides still came like he knew they would. But now the factory was on cliffs ten metres above the sea decaying like a carcass of a long extinct animal. “The tides come but the water has gone,” his father had said, more than once.

Joshua’s grandson pointed up to a tumbledown tower above them, Joshua could just make out a rusted cogwheel behind it. ‘What’s that grandad?’

‘A place of where magic was transformed into bread and beer, where we made everything from gates to windows, to spears and cooking pots.’

‘Oh, was it magic that made those grandad? What makes them now?’

Joshua harrumphed, he hadn’t seen a new thing made in their town for decades.

‘Some other magic I suppose. Some where else.’ Or do we just recycle what we had already, he wondered.

He'd never found out what was made in the room of iridescence. The secret had probably died with his father. Perhaps it was nothing important at all: Possibly it was everything. He noticed the sun hot on his feet, the water no longer lapping over them. The tide must have been turning or he’d absently walked up the beach. Or the water was retreating from this cursed place once more.


____
WC: 617


Comments

Big Little Update

Flip, it's been over a week since my last update. Not been too much writing from me in last week. I wrote a Memoir piece on some musical history: Smithdown; the band. And wrote a few small bits and bobs for nothing in particular. Unfortunately I missed Microcosms, which was a bit of a shame as I liked the theme idea this week (I even picked my book for it). Time defeated me after a very hot Friday at work.

I went back to reading my NaNoWriMo story from last November to see whether it has enough meat on its bones to turn into an actual fully fledged story. And... well I think it does. So yes, I am going to attempt to edit and polish it. It'll probably take a couple of months, but would be great to finish it. So bloody hell, I'm going to bite that bullet.

Heard from a mate who doesn't do that much reading who got around to reading my story in Infernal Clock and really enjoyed; he actually said 'gripped'. That made me happy.

So all in all whilst not much writing it is a big week for me... I'm going to finish writing a bloody novel. And now I've said that out loud, haven't I. So I have to. Watch this space.
Comments

A Globe Trip

London: The Globe Trip

Only had one night there but had a cracking quick trip to London. Had the £10 Virgin tickets to London. The hotel up near Arsenal wasn't up to much but everything else went swimmingly!

The trip started well. A full English in the Shiraz in Liverpool then off to Platform 8 for the Virgin train to London. Ended up sat next to a woman on her way to Zambia for a trip with students from the University of Central Lancashire. Had a nice chin wag about traveling and reading. She was reading Lord of the Rings in paperback.

A guy who got on at Stafford overheard us talking and joined the conversation. Turned out he had some books with him. That he'd written. Cool! And who was he? Leaf Fielding. Okay, I hadn't heard of him either. But that's what Google is for. Flip! Think I'll have to buy that first book now.

I'd booked my ticket for Nell Gwynn at the Globe the previous night and went for the standing option. Glad I did. Standing was fine (no different to going to a gig (including have the issue of tall people in front of you). The play was brilliant laugh out loud fun. It was designed for the Globe originally and it worked fantastically. Didn't know the lead, but she was excellent. A few of the actors I recognised from the telly.

P1000157

Talking of which I sat next to Mark Rylance in the Swan Bar before the show (yep, Wolf Hall and all). Rubbing shoulders!

On Tuesday it was a quick walk around the Emirates stadium, home of Arsenal. A bit antiseptic as a new build stadium, but worth seeing as it was round the corner from the hotel. Then on for an hour walk around the never to be missed British Museum, before heading to a few pubs... including the oldest surviving pub in London the George Inn (near the Globe actually) and then up to Pimilico for Cask, and to Euston for the Bree Louise and the Euston Tap.

P1000276

A great trip.

Uploaded some pics onto
Flickr. First time I've Flickred for ages.


Comments

As Exciting as Shoes

The Reassurance of Shoes

I don't like shopping for shoes, they're just things that sit on the end of me legs keeping my feet warm and dry. And I never like buying them, they're just 'things'. How boring, but how essential? And that's how I feel about buying a back-up Hard Drive. It's one of those things that you have and hopefully never need, but it's as essential as insurance or a battery recharger (or shoes*).

shoes

Let's face it as a writer most of us just use computers to write and store our bits and bobs (or hidden genius epics) on them. It's like our digital photos though; we don't print them out. So if the worst happens and your computer goes down how much of your writing will be lost? 50% 70% 95% it's all too scary to think about, isn't it?

My current portable Hard Drive is supposed to back-up by overwriting the older copies on it using the macOS Time Machine. Some time ago (I dare not think how long ago) my drive stopped backing up as there wasn't enough working space to do the deletion. Eek! So all my unprinted work and unused photographs are at risk until I get that new bigger drive and get Time Machine up and running again.

I've picked out a 1 TB WD drive (plenty big enough) and it's all of £55. It'll be good to get it. I'll get it tomorrow. Lovely to know that all my stuff will be saved. But still, like shoes, I won't be excited by it.
Hard Drive
That said, make sure you make your back-ups; or even print some of your most important bits off. If the worst happens and you haven't it doesn't bare thinking about.


* I realise that those of the female persuasion may be confused by this entire blog.


Comments

Fabulous TV Eats Time

TV Eats Time Until There Really Is No Tomorrow

There has been rather a lot of great TV on for the last month or so. And I've loved watching lots of it, but it has slowed my reading down and, even more, my writing. Whilst work takes up so much time I really can't help that. TV though... I should make harder choices about what to watch or not, but flip there have been some cracking shows on. So rather than feel any guilt about it I'm calling it 'research into writing'. Just in case I end up doing any screenwriting.

Current and recent TV must watch for me:

  • Taboo
  • Line of Duty
  • Homeland
  • Follow the Money
  • Inside No 9
  • University Challenge
  • Only Connect

At least Taboo, No9 and Follow the Money have finished (and UC and OC have only the Finals to go) so I may have more writing and reading time without the need for making difficult telly-box decisions over the coming weeks.

Keep Writing - Stop Watching.
Comments

Twisted!

Twisted Tax Tales

Once upon a time... a tax and accountant company* in Australia ran a writing competition. And one A.J. Walker had an off the counter story which fitted with the theme (basically story needed to include 'an accountant' as a character). I actually had a story I wrote back in my days doing an OU creative writing course called... The Accountant.

So a tiny bit of editing... Attach and... press Send.

Then wait...

Wait..

Wait.

Yep, Short Listed. Whoop!

I had posted the fact that I'd entered on Facebook and one
Mark Davoren spotted it. So he entered too. And yep, another writerer from Liverpool got in there too. Nearly all the rest of the authors were from Australia and New Zealand unsurprisingly. Was cool to see two Liverpool writers getting in there.

Twisted 1
And yesterday the book arrived. Lovely it is too, don't you think?


Just a teeny wee shame about the typo on my blurb about one of my favourite books;
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville has been autocorrected to Period Street Station. Doh!

Perdido

The book with a whopping 35 stories in it is available in Paperback and on Kindle. It's a mahoosive £16.55 in Paperback and I blame the Australians (and perhaps their tax rates) for that. At least the Kindle version is available too.


#KeepWriting

*Success Tax Professionals
Comments

More Thinking Time Than Writing Time.

Time, Time, Time

Writing when you work for a living can be a right problem. Unless you write for a living of course. Then it's a whole other kettle of fish I expect.

Today though was a case in point. Expected to be back home by 5:30 or 6:00pm but got home at around 7:30. That's up to 2 hours of potential writing time out of the equation. And when the other parts of the equation include eating, dishes and winding down it leaves actual time pretty slim. I had hoped to get the bulk of one of my Project 1 stories finished tonight, but I haven't.

Still, whilst driving around north Wales on my deliveries today I did get some good thinking time for two of the stories I am doing so hope to get stuck into them and should finish them by the end of the weekend still. So that'll be fine.

There are other things of course that could help free up a bit more time... denying myself any Social Media time for one. Or having an absolute No TV rule. And maybe that 'Winding Down' time could be after the writing. But then again writing before winding down may lead to some unusually sweary and erratic writing; then again that may help with some stories.

Next time I'm short of time but keen to get something actually FINISHED then maybe I'll pre-wind write. Today I chose to write just a bit and leave it (got about 400 words down on a story). So I've got a foundation (some words). I've got my scaffolding (my ideas). It's now up to me to set aside the right write time over the next few days.

In the meantime at least it was a lovely day down/up/along here. It was stunning all day in Llandudno and Penrhyn, and the first day of the year I spent all day without a jacket on. Shorts are a-coming!

icecream

And I even had myself a (late) post work ice-cream in Rhos-on-Sea. Nice!

Keep Writing!


Comments

Project One: More Storifying.

Project 1: Short Story Writing

I'm behind time a little bit with
Project 1 of my 2017 plan, but I have a (sub)plan to get two short stories completed this week for it. I've started the third one, just to get it rolling. It's an idea I've had for a while and hopefully will come out fairly easily ultimately. That's the theory, anyway. We'll see.

I intend to finish Story 3 this week and then go back to the story with the
1000 word start; as starts go it's not a bad one.

The lack of good telly each night should mean I've no excuse other than
lethargy and sloth. And there the answer may be coffee.

Pretty sure with both
Story 2 & 3 these are relatively low hanging fruit and then I can get back on target for my 'one story a week' aim.

Will report back on here with my progress by next Monday. So fingers crossed.


In the meantime I did start taking a look a my
NaNoWriMo 'novel' at the weekend to see whether it was any good and/or worth looking at doing more work on - perhaps as Project 3. Only read the first two chapters again so far and I'm thinking I need to read the next two to make a more reasoned determination. But it's not a 'no', yet...

Anyway folks, keep writing!
Comments

Come On!

More Reading, Not Enough Writing... Come On!

Just finished reading
Primo Levi's 'If This Is a Man', my thirteenth book this year according to my reliable GoodReads friend. A good and thought provoking read if not exactly a cheerful one. Wouldn't be a pick for everyone. Not sure what my next read will be, but it will probably be more cheerful and thankfully less thought provoking... so many options. Still need to finish The Silmarillion so maybe I'll just drop back into that.

PL If

That said I've got writing to do! Yes, writing! I've just written a daft quick story for Microcosms and put that up on the site. It's my first Microcosms for a few weeks. But really that's a side issue I've got to drop back on to Project 1 (and/or 2) of my 2017 Writing before I fall behind on these.

Okay, decision made... next up will be some thought, if not words on my second story for Project 1. I reckon I can finish that (thought AND writing) by Monday to remain on track.

I have it printed it out. I have pen, I have paper, will travel... and, err, think...


Am Reading...
Am Writing (Promise)
Comments

Project 1: and so it begins...

Project 1: The Short Story Collection

And so it begins... yep, my 2017 writing - other than ubiquitous random Flash - is
now off and running! To be in accordance with my plan I need to write a minimum of one short story a week to get a collection of 12 or so stories together in three months. Certainly doable.

Liver Pen 200

Well, I'm now one story in, yep! To be fair, in full on Blue Peter fashion, it was from a story I'd started earlier. It's spot on length wise, being just over 2500 words (aiming for 1500 - 3000 word stories). I'll give it a proper read through in a week or two to see how well it hangs together. It's a story that hasn't seen the light of day anywhere else yet. I'll probably try out at least a couple of them at the Poised Pen meetings over the coming couple of months. The stories are all going to be stand alone ones - the stories are to be held together by setting not theme.

The Thousand Word Prompt

I've also found another
half written story which could fit right in for Story 2 of Project 1. There's a 'slight' problem with it... It is written in a well detailed way up to the point it stops; but I have no idea where I was going with the story - I've probably a note in a notebook somewhere about it, but it is now effectively a 1000 word prompt!!





Comments

Tragedy on the Lakeside

Lakeside Flash and Sunday Evening Fever

Off today and meeting mate for his birthday pints this afternoon, then a bizarre evening of music with.. er...
Tragedy a Heavy Metal band doing Bee-Gees covers 'and beyond'. I know not what to expect with that!

Tragedy
Tragedy

So reading and writing confined largely to the morning along with boring stuff like washing and ironing. Grrr.

First up was reading a few chapters of
Silmarillion. Another Folio edition, and another that has been sat on the shelves unread for far too long. Really enjoying the amazing world building with this. Short stories really, written as folklore or a biblical text, to set the background to LOTR and the Hobbit.

Then it was writing: it's a Sunday, so I've usually got to try
Angry Hourglass. I don't know why but it took a while to get a story from the picture this week (below). But got something done in the end. So as far as I'm concerned that's a win.

Lake
Photo: Ashwin Rao

Next writing will be something for Project 1. Or maybe 2...
Comments

Writing Plan (Draft)

Writing Plan - February 2017

Writing plan is developing folks, let's call it a first draft. Should be a bit more firmed up over next week.

Project 1 - Short Story Compilation - ebook
Project 2 - Non-Fiction Book - ebook
Project 3 - FT or 2HB - novel
Project 4 - HS1 or TTYA1 - novel or novella

I’m not going to put many details on what these projects actually comprise at the stage other than their general form. As they develop the working titles and contents will come out when appropriate.

Even with ‘just’ four projects I know I’m being over ambitious; at least in terms of finishing all four in the year. But if I work on all of them at different points I expect one or two will take on a life of their own and then the reality of things will become clear. Let's face it if I finish two of them I'll probably be pretty happy and if I finish three I'll be
chuffed to little mint balls!


Projects:

Project 1 - is to be a Short Story Compilation of probably 12-14 stories of between 1500 and 3500 words. I’ll aim for c. 2000 words but let the stories get to their natural length rather than force it.

Project 2 - is a Non-Fiction Book I’ve been thinking of getting done for a while and can drop in and out of as and when.

Projects 3 and 4 - novels or novellas both Projects are currently down as ‘either / or’ and will be firmed up over the coming couple of months. If you followed my NaNoWriMo last year then you’ll guess that Project 3 is either 'Fergie Time' or a.n. other novel idea. I’ll make that call over the next week or so.

The Projects aren't necessarily in the order of commencement or completion (but probably are). That said Project 4 would definitely be started after completion (or calling a halt on) of Project 3.

Fergie Time is the only writing project that has any significant writing actually done at this stage. But the three other potential stories in Projects 3 and 4 are partially developed in my noggin and on scraps of paper.

Timetable:

Ha ha! Bit early to get that sorted but I will need to firm up a plan including schedules for all the Projects or else they will likely slip without me even trying.

Project 1. My feeling is that Project 1 should be completable in three months from start to finish in terms of writing the stories, just on the basis of simply writing a minimum of one story a week.

Project 2. Would be c. 3 months to write as well. The issue is whether I can fit the work required within the same 3 months as Project 1; dropping onto sections of it between the fiction writing. Would be great if I could. Undertaking the two Projects simultaneously is certainly a s t r e t c h goal. But back in the day of my report writing days I would often work on multiple reports, letters and proposals in a day (not to mention reviewing reports) so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

Projects 3 and 4. Maybe it should be Project 3 or 4? Writing and finishing a novel or novella this year is my biggest target if not my first. Fergie Time may have legs, but if not the three other potential ideas have great possibilities too and it may well be a case of starting writing the other three and seeing which flows easiest… Any of these may take 3-6 months each… er at least…

Other Writing:

Of course there’s other stuff to consider in between.

  • I always go in for Writing on the Wall Flash Competition even though they’ve really stepped back from it themselves. It’s just a tradition for me now.
  • NAWG. Poised Pen is a member of NAWG and I should enter a competition or two.
  • Would love to give a screen or radio play a try at some point. Will just see if it happens, but currently don't want it to get in the way of the four projects above.
  • Similarly submitting to a magazine or podcast would be great, but at this stage only if a piece comes naturally and doesn't get in the way of the above projects.
  • And of course random competitions I haven't spotted yet!

So much writing. But I have some scheduling to do...


Keep Writing Folks!

Comments

Reading Over... Time to Write...

With A Notebook in One Pocket

I said I'd have a plan for my writing year by the end of the month and that I'd get on to it after I'd finished the book I was reading. Or more to the point, not read another book until I've got a plan in place. Well here it is... no, not the plan... I finished reading '
The Dispossessed' by Ursula Le Guin last night so when I go out later It'll be with a notebook in one pocket and NO PAPERBACK OR KINDLE in the other one. Scary stuff.


Ursula

I'm ten books in to the reading year, which is well ahead of my target while heading towards forty reads. So no pressure on my reading time from that perspective while spending time on the plan. But I'll miss the daily reading... so basically I best get this writing plan firmed up with both realistic and s t r e t c h goals my friends!

Writing App
Get writing

Get Writing and Keep Reading everyone.






Comments

More Books!

More Reading and More on Writing Plans

Was delivering today in
Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr in north Wales. The last delivery was a reattempt in Penmaenmawr which gave me the opportunity to pop into the excellent Second-Hand Book Shop 'Escape Reality'. It's an excellent shop - two rooms rammed with second hand books and it has a reasonable quantity of SF books, which is always nice.

Payment at the shop is through an Honesty Box (well, a slot in a door).

Ended up buying
six books! A couple of which were picked as much as for the fab old SF covers as for the stories themselves.

The books included tomes from
Beryl Bainbridge, Bernard Cromwell, Brian Stableford, James White, and Roger Zelazny.

Books

Books3

Books2

Currently I'm reading my first Ursula Le Guin - 'The Dispossessed'

I've got lots of books on my shelves and on my current list to finish; and am currently reading a great book too. So I didn't really need any new old books, but I've got them anyway. Second Hand Bookshops. Gotta love 'em.

Thing is now I need to create some space on my shelves.
Or else get some more shelves!

Of course yesterday I pointed out that I'm trying to get my
writing plans sorted and all this reading may get in the way of it, or at least in the way of the immediate plans. So I've decided that once I've finished The Dispossessed I'm not starting another book until I've finished The Plan!



Comments

The Pen of Serious Decision Making

Writing Plans

Right, I'm a month and a half into 2017 and I still haven't confirmed what my
writing plans are (see blog 10.01.17) and it's not good enough. It's time to undertake some serious thinking and make some serious plans.

I'm giving myself
two weeks now, so I'm putting on my Specialest Writing Hat and holding tightly The Pen of Serious Decision Making and I'm going to get a plan together. Oh yeah, baby!

Er, that'll be two months in to the year before "
The Plan" is in place. But it is what it is, and so on 1 March 2017 come rain, come grey nothingness I will have it.

One of the considerations in this two weeks is whether to go forward at this time with
'Fergie Time' from last year's NaNoWriMo or whether to bin it (or at least hold off on it) to concentrate on other projects. We will see... hopefully.

In other matters, following the
Reflex Competition entered on the 7 Feb, I have also entered the Writers & Artists competition (now closed). On 'reflection' I should have given the piece a better title. But typically it was a finish on submission day job. Ho hum. If I get to enter it elsewhere following its failure in this comp at least I can rename it when I revisit it! There's a couple more competitions that I think I will enter over the next month or so. Unless they get in the way of THE PLAN!

Keep Writing, folks!
Comments

A Reflex Action

Reflex Fiction Competition

Wrote a quick flash story for the
Reflex Fiction competition. The competition is theme-less so whatever you want goes - as long as it's between 180 and 360 words; ideal Flash Dogs length!

It's
free to enter, has cash prizes and is open until the end of February. So why not give it a go?



Reflex
Reflex Fiction website
Comments

Reading and Writing Two Weeks In

Reading and Writing and Plans


Reading:

It's only the second half of January but that's like 1/24th of the year right? So I got to get my writing plans sorted soon.

Got some good reading done already this year. First off was '
Galactic Derelict' by Andre Norton. I bought it as much for the cover as it was a gloriously gaudy 1959 paperback. Was well worth the read in any case!

Next up was 'W
eird Ales II' edited by Steve Cotterill (created by Theresa Derwin). I said I'd review it as I was involved in the first volume, writing the introduction. I didn't have any involvement in the this one. A volume of short stories based around bars, pubs and drinks it is a mixed bag of great and not so, but that'll be down to actual personal preference rather than actual quality. Enjoyed the book and posted reviews on both GoodReads and Amazon.

Third up was one of my 'classics' on my aim to read this year list, '
The Tempest' by William Shakespeare. I've not had much experience of reading Shakespeare but enjoyed it and more will be read this year I'm sure. Macbeth next I think.

Last read completed this month so far was Asimov '
Nightfall Two' a selection of short stories which even included a flash fiction piece he'd written live on a TV show. He's a story writer master and every story had great merit and often fab twists. What can you say about the guy. Genius.


Jerusalem


Currently reading '
Jerusalem: a Biography' by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It's a heft hardback which has been on my shelf for a few years now - it was published in 2011 but I'm not sure whether it's been on the shelf that long. I'm about a third of the way through and boy is it packed. Clearly a 2500+ year history crammed into 520 pages means the pace is packed and when it has had such a ridiculously packed and complicated history it feels like a head spinner. Many of the stories of the peoples involved could have been lifted straight off the pages of the Game of Thrones (or the other way around). Any of these sound familiar:

Incest' pouring molten gold onto an enemy to kill them; having a feast for adversaries - then the waiters and kitchen staff clubbing and knifing them into the stew; 'Greek Fire'; matricide; patricide; flip all types of 'cides. In fact other than the lack of dragons I could be reading the GoT. Awe inspiring 'Biography' of the city. Pretty much too much to take it all in!

Only just past the Second Crusade, so let's see how the next 900 years goes.


Writing:

I've listed a few things I want to write this year on previous blog entries - bigger pieces than flash. But so far I have not firmed up what to start with. So far this year - other than a little preparation for one of my projects - I've just done some
flash fiction.

Lucky enough to get runner up in
Angry Hourglass last week, which was a nice surprise. Later last week I did an entry for Thursday Threads for the first time in many months (okay probably over a year) and on Friday I wrote a quick entry for Microcosms and again did a piece for Angry Hourglass on Saturday. So a fair bit of flash there then!

I think I'm
judging Angry Hourglass next weekend. So less flash options next week. Maybe, just maybe I'll be putting together something for one of my projects.


Comments

2017 Writing Plans

Writing in 2017

Okay, I've set some reading goals for the year, so what about my
writing goals?

IMG_4884 2

In the past I've set goals like winning the Flash Fiction Friday or Angry Hourglass challenges, this year I'm going to aim to do a few more substantial things (that is to say of more words). Not that I'll be avoiding Flash! of course. I'll still be doing Angry Hourglass and Microbookends as often as I can.

Nothing concrete planned as yet, but thinking along the lines of;

  • self publishing a book (possibly non-fiction)
  • submitting to a magazine or podcast (maybe EscapePod or Clarkesworld)
  • writing a short screen or radio play (never attempted this before)
  • planning and beginning a novel or novella

Not sure yet about editing the story I did for NaNoWriMo - with all the above I may be a bit too busy.

Will see how the plans go er... after I've firmed up said plans! Watch this space...
Comments

Poised Pen Secret Santa

Not sure I'll be getting too much writing done throughout December but there will be bits of flash I dare say, or micro-micro flash in terms of the FlashDogs daily #VSS365 on Twitter. One thing I will be doing though is for the Poised Pen writing group, where each year we do a Secret Santa. Instead of buying some tat for a fiver made of meat products we write a piece for someone else in the group based on some Christmassy theme or other. I've been given my theme and it's... well I can't say. Not screaming out at me yet, but no doubt some muse or stick of holly will hit me.

Dear Santa

The Secret Santa piece can be in any form (poem, prose, short story, play etc). I'm not sure about mine yet, but it won't be a novel or even a novella, but it will be longer than a FlashDog VSS365. Er, probably.

The only other creative writing I'll be doing this month is job applications and CV updates. I need a proper job. You know where I am, people!

Happy writing folks!

Comments