Friday, June 30, 2006

# "I'm gonna surprise them all when they look and I'm gone, gone, gone..." # - Dan Wilson (Semisonic)

I like Lost. It's one of those shows you either like or loathe. For me, though, the writing on the show is fantastic, and I particularly admire the plotting of the series as a whole (apprarently they originally conceived it as a four-season show) and that there's a whole story-arc running through it. I'm the kind of writer who needs to plot and plot and plot my stories before actually putting pen to paper. I admire the brave people who can just sit at their desk and reel off chapter after chapter with pure inspiration as their guide. (But I question whether this really ever happens at all - surely they still need a whiteboard or something to do some good old-fashioned brainstorming sessions onto?!)
I say some loathe Lost because a lot of people I talk to say they can't stand the endless cliffhangers, the red herrings and the unanswered questions. But for me, that's fast turning into the fun of the series. As a children's writer I'm always on the lookout for a "hook" to keep the reader interested at the end of each chapter - the things that create that "page-turning" quality of a rip-roaring good read - and with every episode of Lost, if you accept that the end of the episode will inevitably be yet another cliffhanger, the fun of the ride really is injected back into it. The fact is that they want you to not be able to miss a single episode from week to week, just like I would never want you to skip a chapter if you were reading Moon Crater. As for the red herrings and endless unanswered questions, that too, for me, helps to build up the mystery and intrigue that I so much want to emulate with my writing. Long-lingering questions about the show's characters ARE answered, but only when you least expect it, and those questions in turn throw up other questions that you hadn't even contemplated before... For me, that's the genius of this show...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

# "I've been hangin' around this town on the corner, I've been hangin' around this old town so long..." # - Adam Duritz (Counting Crows)

I visited Dublin last weekend. One of my best friends lives there and he's an usher at my wedding soon - so it was a kind of "pre-stag do thing", cos he can't make it over for my official stag party in a few weeks' time.

I first met Damo at work about five years ago and we hit it off straight away. He's moved back to his home country now but we still keep in touch a lot and travel back and forth across the water to visit one another frequently. I think that's probably the true mark of a friend - making that extra effort not to let things slip, even when there's a lot of distance between the two of you (or even when there's not).

Anyway, apologies to Damo, but this post is really about Ireland as a whole being an influence on me as a writer (of which, my good friend is a part, of course, but my association with the Emerald Isle goes back a little farther than when the two of us first became friends at work.) Historically, I have links with Ireland from the days before my life began. (Incidentally, I find it really difficult to get my head round the fact that history, the years before you even existed and are aware of the passage of time yourself, isn't just something trapped in the whispers of family stories that get passed down or etched permanently in a book, waiting for you to pick up and read about) A branch of my family, although, there's probably a good deal more, came from Ireland originally - namely the Sweeneys on my dad's side. They are meant to have lived in the Waterford area. And on my first backpacking trip to Ireland, that's the area I camped around...

Friday, June 23, 2006

The difference between advertise and publicise...

# "Tell me where is fancy bred? In the heart or in the head?" # - William Shakespeare

I think I may have been getting a little too obsessed with advertising the website for Moon Crater... There's a motto I read online of the filmmaker Ted Turner who says, "Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise" and I think recently I've been living by that motto a bit too closely.

As I said the other day I've been monitoring my site with google analytics and have been posting my web link onto lots of forums and sites just to advertise, advertise, advertise...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

# “It’s the small, small, small talk that makes it all happen...” # - Per Gessle (Roxette)

I find it really difficult to write "precis" most of the time. In my writing I edit a lot and enjoy working through many drafts of stories and chapters - I guess it comes from the journalistic background I've had in writing articles and editing later to fit to space on a magazine or newspaper page... But even when writing features I still found it difficult to keep to the word limit.

Practise on this aspect of writing is good, particularly for me, and right now I'm thinking of entering a "short short story" competition that's being run locally to myself. It calls for a story with only 60 words which still has a beginning, middle and an end.

Yesterday I was walking to work and heard a snatch of a conversation (a great way to get inspiration or starting points for stories!) from a couple at a bus stop, and as I continued walking to my metro for work, I composed this 60-word story which I'm printing here for your enjoyment:

Monday, June 19, 2006

Agent Gone Dark - a foretelling...

# "Someday, I'm gonna stay,... but not today..." # - Adam Duritz (Counting Crows)

Just adding a short post here today to let you all know that the new design for is moving nearer to completion - there's a new teaser holding page up now which I'm hoping will add more intrigue to the site and story - questions a visitor to the site might ask are: "Why a backwards clock?", "Just what is the 'Institute'?" & "What have Laurel & Hardy got to do with the whole thing?!"

Been using google analytics to track the traffic onto the site too and after a slow start it seems to be going through the roof! At the weekend I had 59 visitors on Saturday alone. ("Ooh, big deal!" you might say - but considering I'm not a big organisation with multi-million-pound advertising campaigns, I'm pretty happy with this steady climb...) Anyway, analytics is worth a look if you have your own website - go to: to read more...

Friday, June 16, 2006

# "Adjectives on the typewriter, he moves his words like a prizefighter, The frenzied pace of the mind inside the cell" # - John Mcrea (Cake)

My dad's a fantastic photographer. He's been taking wedding photographs for about 20 years now on and off, as a hobby and professionally, and I admire the talent and keen eye he's been given to create such beautiful compostitions on film.

This comes to mind because this morning I spent about two hours trying to get a photograph taken with my digital camera which will act as the basis for the homepage of my writing website - - two hours for one photograph! Well, it was actually about half a dozen photos just to get the one that I was finally happy with. The idea isn't original, really - I've seen it done on quite a few websites, but I've adapted it to suit my own needs and story content. Basically, without giving too much away, there'll be a scene of a desk with various mysterious objects on it - each will eventually be clickable (one object will be unlocked at a time, perhaps every month or so) and will reveal another piece to the jigsaw of Moon Crater as I draw closer to sending it off to agents, and/or publishers. (I hope they want to publish it after all this work - at any rate, it's all a learning curve, so we'll just have to wait and see...) So the website overall is intended almost to be like a "trailer" (I like film jargon, by the way) to the main feature, which is, of course, the novel.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

# "A hydro-field cuts through my neighbourhood, somehow that always just made me feel good..." # - Barenaked Ladies

I want to tell you about the village where I grew up. This isn't one of those rose-tinted perspectives, years later, looking back and dreamily half-remembering how it was. It's only in the last year that I've moved away from there and it still has its problems of wandering gangs of kids, drugs on street corners and fast cars just looking for the next slow pedestrian to put a foot onto the road. But I lived there for most of my young life, growing up with that sort of thing surrounding me, and I still love the place.

You'll always remember the good AND the bad things of any place you go to, but part of truly appreciating somewhere I think is seeing past the crap that seems determined to ruin the great things in this world. And so that's how I intend to remember Westerhope.

Friday, June 09, 2006

"Fortune and glory, kid,... fortune and glory."

# "The razor perceptions that cut just a little too deep..." # - Adam Duritz (Counting Crows)

I mentioned a little while ago that I'd written and won a prize in an online fan fiction writing competition. (The link to the story is in that previous post if you scroll down through my blog or look in the Archives. Or you can find it in the Fan Fiction section of - I'm was the 3rd prize winner of their 2005 fan fic contest.) Apart from the annoying fact that it's now over a year later and the guys who run the site STILL haven't sent me my prize, the whole experience was very positive for my writing. I'm not in writing to win prizes anyway, it's more about getting my work read and entertaining people as much as I enjoy well-created stories myself.

I'm a huge Indiana Jones fan anyway so conceiving and plotting
Indiana Jones & The Quest of the White Knight was hugely satisfying for myself, and hopefully it shows. My sense of adventure and the air of mystery that I want to put across in my plots and writing is directly inspired by Indy. I love the TV series "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" just as much as the films because I'm drawn to the idea of telling one or more characters' stories at different times and stages in their lives. (That's why I'm so looking forward to seeing Indy IV if it gets made since we'll be seeing what the character was like in the 1950s or 1960s).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ever tried "touch-texting" like a whizz kid?!

# "Got a call from an old friend, we used to be real close..." # - Billy Joel

I've got music and mobiles on my mind at the moment... I write best when I've got music playing the background (as I write this, I'm listening to a Billy Joel song called The Night Is Still Young). It's always been the way from being young and at school - music has helped me get on with whatever work I was doing - my art and design homework from school always seemed to fly by when I had a good tape (remember those?!) playing at the same time. These days, whenever I'm writing a story, I mostly have film soundtracks or scores playing. With being an adventure and mystery writer, this type of music really helps tap into the mood I want to get as a writer (some of the soundtracks I like most are from - Apollo 13, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Last Crusade and the Young Indiana Jones TV series).

Music is important to me - I love specific artists who don't necessarily get very high in the British charts (and most of them tend not to be English singers anyway!) - that said, last night I went to see chart-topper Bryan Adams play at our local football stadium and had a great time. We've seen him before but never in an open-air venue and that really made a difference. Music lyrics inspire and spur me on with my writing, and Mr Adams definitely has a midas touch when scribbling words on a music sheet.

Monday, June 05, 2006

# "Can you tell me the things you remember about me?" # - Adam Duritz (Counting Crows)

Post-It notes and scraps of paper are the bane of my life so far as a writer. I've been an amateur writer for ten years and still haven't been able to find a reliable way to record the random ideas and notions that I get as I walk around from day to day. Ideas and inspirtation I find come from everywhere and anywhere, and most of the time, without warning. Because of this and the paranoia of not wanting to forget or loose that fantastic idea I just had ten seconds ago, I usually force myself to write it down somewhere, anywhere, so that it's recorded and fixed in a more concrete place than the sieve that is my brain.

I used to write key words onto the back of my hand (a "policeman's notebook" a... policeman once informed me) - those keywords would hopefully later spark off the rest of the idea for a story, when I'd have time to write it out more fully, sat in front of my keyboard at home. But the key words and my handwriting scrawled across the back of my stretching skin, more often than not, were illegible once I had the time and space to write them up at a later time of the day. So I began to have a Post-It pad next to me at work or in my pocket, to write down those fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime notions which I just coudn't let go of. This technique served me well for about two years when I realised (especially with Moon Crater) I had about one thousand nine hundred and seventy seven Post-It notes and bits of paper in one box file which were so disorganised and unrelated to one another I didn't know how to begin sorting through them.

Friday, June 02, 2006

As one curtain rises, another descends...

# "I'm off on a rocketship, prepared for something new, I'm off on a rocketship, ecstatic with the view" # - Guster

OK, well, it's done... The unveiling of my website happened yesterday June 1st, 2006. You can find it at - Twig has done a brilliant job of designing a holding page until the main homepage is set up and hopefully it provides a bit of intrigue and anticipation for whoever stumbles onto it in the meantime...

Perhaps I should say a little about Moon Crater - it's an adventure book for 8-14 year-olds, it's sci-fi but it's based in the real world, it's set in a fictional place but I take my inspirtation from my own life and experiences growing up... Cryptic enough for you?