A.J. Walker


NoNaNoWriMo 2017

Briefly yesterday I considered a last minute log on to NaNoWriMo to sign up for a second year of 'writing a novel in a month'. For those who don't know the aim is to write a 50,000 word minimum novel in the month of November (National Novel Writing Month). In previous years November for me has involved growing a moustache for Movember but now I'm mostly bearded anyway I haven't done that for a few years. Last year I did NaNoWriMo for the first time and managed to get to the magic 50k words a day or two before the end of the month.

The story I chose to work on last year was one I'd sketched out previously for a Writing on the Wall competition: 'Dragon's Pen' which I presented in front of such luminaries as A.L. Kennedy at Liverpool's Bluecoat several years earlier. Having the broad idea sketched out made the 50k words achievable as it was like writing ten short stories - having each chapter ostensibly as a set piece. This year, although I have two ideas for novels, I don't have them sketched out anywhere near as much. Perhaps if I did I would go for it again. But I don't.

In any case, at the start of the year I had a Writing Plan and that has been hardly touched. So instead of diverting my attention to NaNoWriMo I will use the month to get on with one or other of the Projects I had in mind at the start of the year. Over the next two days I'll decide which one to get on with and use 'Month NaNoWriMo' to get one of these a lot further down the line.

Anyway this year it's No NaNoWriMo for me. Good luck to anyone doing it this year. It is a great experience and brilliant to know that you can get so many words down on a single project - basically with 'just' 1667 words a day. It doesn't sound that difficult when you say it quickly.


Nice Autumn Day in Llandudno

It was a lovely day today in the north west of England and north Wales. I was over in Llandudno on a route today and managed to spend ten minutes on the beach after delivering the last parcel. It was lovely to sit and watch the waves on the pebble beach and great for my #DailyDeliveryPhoto which I do on Twitter.



I love autumn on a clear day with the low watery sun, the cool crisp days, and the colourful trees and fields. But today I was on the coast and got to enjoy watching the waves and listening to the water rush over the pebbles and hear the pebbles running back down over the beach. Was a lovely ten minutes; unfortunately after the clocks change next week it'll probably be dark by the time I finish the route... so maybe I'll have to take ten minutes in the middle of the route to guarantee a nice view and a few mins of relaxation (and nice photos).








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.


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 photo prompt


A Year of Reading

Been a good year for reading for me (not yet for writing, but there's still time so watch this space). Picked up another couple of books during the week including the Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett, which is one of the nine Discworld's I've yet to read.

This week I surpassed the forty books I'd set as a target for the year on GoodReads.

Somehow forty books in some ways doesn't sound that much to me, but it's a struggle to get the reading time in some weeks with our busy lives and so I've got to be pretty satisfied with getting close to a book a week. And it's mad when you look at the average number of books people read or the number of books the average person reads (which is quite different). Apparently the average number of books is around 10 to 12 or so, but the median number (i.e. the number that most people profess to have read in a year) is only 4; the average number being skewed so much by the heavier readers out there. Damn stats, hey. Data suggests that more intelligent - sorry I should say better educated - people read more books, women read more books than men, and incredibly around a quarter of people don't read any books at all (FFS).


These stats seem quite reasonable when I think about it. I've got mates that read no books at all and a few who read maybe five or so. I've had years in the past when I didn't read as much as I do now and I wish that wasn't true (that said I may have been strumming my guitar more some years and I feel guilty about not doing that as much as I used to now); basically there's only so much time.

Roughly 50% of the books I've read so far this year have been SF/Fantasy (so far so predictable) and 25% non-fiction and there have been a few classics thrown in there (The Tempest, Macbeth, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, Titus Groan). All in all many very satisfying and fascinating reads. Some have made me think about my writing methods and style but mostly they have just given me fabulous escapism and provided me with worlds away from this hopeless dystopia we appear to be in at the moment.

All these hours of escapism are priceless and I wish more people would read more, but you can lead a horse to water etc. It would entertain, inform and de-stress many a bod I know if they would. If we all had a few hours away from the google-box and the news and those bloody adverts it would be a better place (imagine if Donald Trump sat back and read a history book or six, and maybe looked at an atlas rather than SNL, Fox and his Twitter feed. Ho hum.).

Fifth Elephant

Anyway's for my next bit of escapism I am heading back to the Discworld to find out about the Fifth Elephant.

The Discworld on the back of the Great A'Tuin

No Phone & No Photos

My phone crashed yesterday. I had no phone available all day. All bloody day! I ask ya. Got it going again last night, then went out today without the charge cable, so I basically haven't had a sodding phone for almost two days and have consequently been almost incommunicado; so much so a mate who never rings me called me tonight to see if I was still alive. It's like I've gone back to the early 1990s.

Yesterday I also managed to take my camera case out with me, but left the camera at home. Doh! So no photos from my trip to some lovely hostelries in Nottingham.

Highlight today was delivering a parcel to the second hand bookshop in Penmaenmawr. I mean I HAD to go into a bookshop, no excuse. Oh well... twenty minutes later and I came out with five books:

  • William Golding - 'Lord of the Flies'
  • Sherri S.Tepper - 'Janina Footseer'
  • Philip Roth - 'Exit Ghost'
  • Alistair Reynolds - 'Pushing Ice'
  • James Blish - 'A Clash of Cymbals'

Not a bad haul, not bad at all.

Five Books

Tomorrow is looking like it could be a challenging day out there on the roads of north Wales with the coming of Ophelia. Fingers crossed it isn't too bad.

If I get back at a decent time I may put some pen to paper - I have some writing to do folks...

Five Minutes

It's been hard working the last few weeks at work. Some of these routes they are giving out are really taking the Michael especially with delayed start times. Ho hum.

Still, it's nice to get out and see the country and when the weather and light is nice it's even better.

Today I took a whole 5 minutes to walk from a delivery which happened to be up by the obelisk above Llandudno Junction at Bryn Pyrdew. The obelisk is on a limestone grassland classed as a SSSI. I don't know me limestone flowers but there were some nice small flowers about even though it's mid October.



It was a tiny wee five minutes break, but it was lovely and I must do it more often.


Buffer & Six Months of Class Song of the Day


Last night I scheduled the next ten days of my daily #ClassSongOfTheDay tweet out which will take me past the six month mark. So far I've managed to succeed in the aim to have unique artistes for each day, so there have been over 185 bands and singers I've gone through. Expect I'll manage that over the following year, after that though I will no doubt start repeating some of the bands - probably - but never the same song and artist. Assuming I keep track of it properly.
I've had pop, rock, folk, Americana, Motown, blues and many things in between and long may that continue. The next week brings up a mix of Americana, 80s Pop and modern Indie tunes. It was sad last week retweeting an earlier Tom Petty ClassSong after his early departure from us, hoping I don't have to do that too often too soon.


Buffer, the website I use to schedule the daily Tweets, has been easy to use and I can recommend it for anyone wanting to send out a regular message when they are out and about or want to arrange them all in one go in advance. It's easy to use and has never failed to send the Tweet out on time; so basically it does what it says on the tin. You can only schedule TEN tweets (and/or FB Posts) at a time with a free account, but if you wanted it done professionally for a web campaign I could see it being very worthwhile paying for. Not for my little Class Song though - I'll just have to keep on top of it every eight to ten days or so.


If you are interested in using it then try it out at www.buffer.com


And I would walk 170 Miles...

Been wearing my Fitbit Alta for one month now and according to the clever little bugger I've walked some 367,000 steps in that time, equating to 170 miles. There's only been one day I've not worn it.


The days off I walk less than the work days and over the month I exceeded the standard 10k steps aim on 23 days (all the work days). The 10k steps is approximately 5 miles apparently and is 4 x more than an average American walks in a day; lazy bastards.

Meanwhile the sleep monitoring shows it is a little wayward and variable (or all over the place). This I knew anyway, c'est la vie.

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!


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.