Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tunnel-Vision Generation!

“I dreamt of success, I would be the best. I would make my folks proud… It hasn't happened yet…”William Shatner

For most of this year I’ve not really found time to do the kind of “feature posts” about subjects relating to creative writing that I have enjoyed writing on this blog in past years, so I thought I’d round off 2009 with a pondering sort of ramble on my own creative scribbles as I become that bit more pensive with winter taking hold both in the outside world, and the inner workings of my modular mind

Early next year, I turn 33, and it’s a strange feeling approaching that age (even worse than when I turned 30) and it’s perhaps for this reason that I’ve recently been wondering which “generation” I fit into, and following on from that, in relation to my scribbles, which the audience I’m writing for fits into as well… After some research (mainly through Wiki!) I appear to have been born at the intersection of Generation X and Generation Y.... (I wonder what sort of graph arc my lifeline’d make!), but it’s actually Generation Z that I’m writing for as a “kids” audience of 8-14 year olds who are internet savvy, text at lightening speeds and can solve PC crashes in their sleep (the mystical “iGen” as they’re also known)....

Monday, November 30, 2009

On silent running but with the promise of some fantastic voyages to come!

# "It's the end of the world as we know, abd I feel fine..." # - REM

It was back at the beginning of 2007 that I first got the crazy wild-eyed notion to attempt to write one of those old “Turn to the Page so-and-so” adventure books online, using a blog page, and now almost at the 3rd anniversary of that idea forming, I thought it might be a good time to bring a bit of an update on how the “Moon Crater Adventures” are actually coming along.....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On The Road To Publishville # 4 - "The Waiting Game & Dreaded Rejections"

“Into the maze, enter the medicine handed down, within these veins… Bleeding with apathy till it drowns…” - Guster

OK, I’m gonna keep this short (for a change!) but as I’ve made such a “hoo-hah” about my experience trying to get my “Moon Crater”TM novel published ever since starting this online journal, and particularly this year, since I’ve got on properly with my journey on this “Road to Publishville” of mine, I couldn’t shy away from the dreaded day when that unwanted first rejection came into my Inbox…

To be honest, as I write this, I’ve actually now had two rejections (from my original three literary agent submissions). Both were very nicely-phrased (but also very generalised) replies, letting me know that my manuscript didn’t fit what their agencies were currently searching for. Despite feeling a little like I’d been sent a standardised letter for a job application which just had had my name stuck onto the top of it, I decided to send gracious replies to both and thank them for taking the time to read my work. (I don’t want to be the kind of writer who has sour grapes every time something doesn’t go my way or even to burn bridges with agencies that I truly still am interested in working with in the future...)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

In Search of "Counter-Pain"...

# “But, Sean, don't get callous, I'm sure it'll be fine. I love you, I love you, Oh, brother of mine…” # - Fleet Foxes
“When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.”

“And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills.”

“And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.”

“I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant Land of Counterpane.”
I sometimes end posts here on my blog journal with a quote or poem (or even a video clip – and in that department, this one’s no different – see below!) but for various reasons, I wanted to begin this quite personal post with a childhood poem I used to read that I still hold close in my adult years…

Monday, September 21, 2009

On The Road To Publishville # 3 - "The Literary Agent & Publishing House"

# “But, oh, my God, if I was somebody I’d be doing it all just fine, but I’m a real late starter so I’m making up for lost time…” # - Nerina Pallot

Well, the moment’s arrived for me, at long last (10 years to be exact!) and I’ve come to the oft mythical place I’ve seen in my head where I’d be in a position to send off a sample of the completed manuscript for my first novel to the potential literary powers-at-be out there… So that’s the hard work over with, right? Well, no, actually, because as I’m constantly finding on this long and winding “Road to Publishville”, the easy bit is over with and now the hard work is probably just beginning…

So now the “Road” in front of me really does fork. There’s potentially three different ways I could go now. The first is one called “vanity publishing” (literally to go down the route of publishing the book myself) and it’s perhaps one that would seem obvious since I’m fairly webwise nowadays, using blogspots and web pages to put my short stories on the Net… BUT, and it’s a very big BUT, my aim with my writing has always been to carve out a career as an author, moving on through various rungs of the ladder as I see it today. And although, I DO use web tools a lot to talk about my scribbles, they are a means to an end and are very much just that - “tools” to get me somewhere – and that is to be represented as a published author, where I might one day be able to walk into any bookshop and pick up one of my own novels…

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Zip Code Challenge # 3 finally arrives! (Well, almost...)

# "And you can't talk about it, and isn't that a kind of madness to be living by a code of silence when you've really got a lot to say?" # - Billy Joel

It’s been a little while since I last announced and launched another of The Zip Code challenges connected to my my "Moon Crater"TM novel and it’s sort of been tied up with me having to become more web-wise this year.. As regular readers will know, I’ve been using a mix of blog pages and Google Page builders to create some of the web pages of my Official Writing Website, but soon Google are doing away with their Google Pages so in anticipation of the inevitable disappearance of my Zip Code Challenge page (built with GPages) I’m temporarily suspending the page and will resurrect it later in the year – never fear, though, it will come back bigger and bolder than before…

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Many More Moon Musings...

# “We only stay in orbit for a moment of time, and then you’re everybody’s satellite… I wish that you were mine, I wish that you were mine… # - Counting Crows

Reading my posts on here and looking across at my Official Website you could get the impression that I’m a bit obsessed with the Moon (in more ways than one!) Well, I won’t deny it – ever since I was old enough to go for a stroll with my dad and the dog on their evening walks, I would always gaze up on clear nights to the see the full Moon and wonder what it would be like to walk on it, what it had been like in the past and how we’d shape its future tomorrow…

You’d have to be living in isolation inside some distant impact crater to not be aware that 2009 is the 40th Anniversary of the time man first set foot on the Moon, and I just couldn’t let this year pass without marking it in some way on the blog. So I thought I’d give my own take on the celebrations as well as linking in a small sort of preview of my very own still-developing lunar-linked set of stories called “Moon Crater Adventures”

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

"Y'shoulda seen uz gannin'..."

# "He's going the distance, he's going for speed... He's racing and pacing and plotting the course... He's going the distance..." - Cake

Way back in October 2008 I blogged about how my wife and I were running the Great North Run and I mentioned at the end of that feature post how next I’d like to try that other “great north” running event, The Blaydon Race

Well, I’m saving this post on the actual day and have to admit I’m writing it a wee bit after taking part in the Blaydon Race ’09 because I was frankly too exhausted after the race to even lift a finger near my keyboard! (But you can still see my Tweet from that day!) And compete in this year’s historic run from Newcastle to Blaydon we did, and I’m happy to report it was worth every breathless mile too!

As opposed to the GNR where we had a nice leisurely breakfast and joined the masses in Newcastle city centre at a civilised 10am, the Blaydon Race is held in the evening, and it meant after a day of work for both of us, going home to get changed and then return to the Toon’s Big Market area to soak up the atmosphere in front of Balmbra’s pub where traditionally the race sets off from...

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Story So Far... (A three-reel epic and still counting!)

# "I don't wanna feel so different, but I don't wanna be insignificant, and I don't know how to see the same things different now..." # - Counting Crows

There's a great line in a classic Laurel & Hardy two-reeler short film called The Fixer Uppers that goes "Merry Christmas, Momma... Happy Birthday Ma... Hey-nonny-nonny and a ho-cha-cha!" and sitting down to write this post that line is whirling round and round in my head because I wanted to do something special to mark the 3rd anniversary of both the beginning of this, my writing blog AND my Official Writing website, yet at the same time, it's a bit odd to be patting myself on the back and saying "Happy Blogthday, Chris!"

But to mark this momentus occasion I must do just that, and for anyone new to my book blog and random writing ramblings on the web, this anniversary post will hopefully also serve as a fitting introduction to who I am and what I've done so far with my writing on the web, and show some of the main efforts I've gone to so far, to spread word of my "Moon Crater"TM novel over the past three years...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On The Road To Publishville # 2 - "The Synopsis & Cover Letter"

# “(S)He's writing, (s)he's writing, (s)he's writing a novel. (S)He's writing, (s)he's weaving, conceiving a plot...” # - Cake

So! Your masterpiece is finished and lying in a conveniently unmissable place, either printed out on paper to encourage you and convince you that you really are a writer or instead sits quietly waiting, but nevertheless complete, on your PC hard drive… You’ve read it and read it till you’re (only just) sick of the sight of it and you finally (in my case a decade later) feel ready to allow other eyes to look upon it for the first time…

That's where I presently stand with "Moon Crater": the book what I wrote (still with a "cover name title") which I'd like to turn into my debut published novel... It's perhaps fitting that it's now 3 years to the day of this post, that I began blogging in an effort to kickstart me into finishing the novel I'd had the initial idea for way back in 1999 and then begun to write seriously between 2003 and 2005. At the end of 2005, I found I'd hit a rut or had just run out of steam with that particular story but always knew I'd return to it and the blogging phenomenon caught me at just the right time so that I could harness it's motivational power and use it to get to the final paragraph of my book...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Seven for a secret never to be told..."

# "I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow, casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there counting crows..." - Adam Duritz

This month sees the return to my hometown of “my favourite band, Counting Crows”… - I haven't seen them play live for about six years and it's sure to be a brilliant gig... (reviews of the Newcastle, UK show are likely to appear here by the end of May)

I've always judged whether I'm "into" a band by the fact of me liking every song they put out, and borrowing their first album from a friend back during my undergrad days in the mid-90s, I was hooked from the get-go. Since then I've listened out for all their B-sides, bootleg live versions of songs (which constantly change from show to show) and any of their rarer tracks that they've contributed to TV and film soundtracks over the years...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Conning the Continuity...

# "What if I lost my direction? What if I lost sense of time? ... It feels just like I'm falling for the first time" # - Barenaked Ladies

I’m afraid this post begins with a bit of a “Warning” (perhaps even a ‘red alert’?) because I’ve got a feeling that even before I begin to type it, it’s going to be one full of question marks and exclamation points… (and sometimes both at once!)

It was just over two years ago, right here on this very weblog journal, that I geekily ranted about my love of “timelines” of ongoing fictional book and TV series, and now around 26 months down my own life’s timeline, a few recent ‘events’ in the world of fiction have led to what I’d describe as a “slow-burning annoyance” related to a new strand on the theme of timelines, and it’s one which is especially close to my heart in writing "Moon Crater"…

I’ve talked before about the idea and importance of “Continuity” to my writing, among the various drafts of my novel and my story series, and how I even began to keep a “Continuity notebook” to help ensure that I didn’t overstep my bounds and the established rules of the worlds of my stories…

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"The next stop is Kansai-Gaidai..."

# "I got pictures of what's in my head... They took 'em in Tokyo, and I brought 'em back with me..." # - Ben Folds

"..Kansai Gaidai is the next stop!" If you’ve ever been to Osaka, Japan, and travelled out near Hirakata City, chances are you may have heard this phrase being uttered over a bus Tannoy, in English, among a lot of Japanese that just isn’t decipherable if you don't speak the native language… Strangely, it’s one of my lasting memories from a fantastic holiday to the Far East I took at the end of March and beginning of April this year with my wife…

We took the chance to travel to "Nippon" because we had friends living out there and it meant we could have free accommodation for this once-in-a-lifetime trip… We managed to time it right too for the cherry blossom season which the Japanese people really revere and admire. You’ll see them on street corners, young and old, staring up at the pink and white trees, taking photos and chatting excitedly about the new life that is springing up in the trees all around them… We’ve actually had a white blossom tree in our front garden for the last three years or so and I’ll forever have a new appreciation for it whenever I look out of our living room window in Spring now, because of our experience of going to Japan…

Monday, April 13, 2009

On The Road To Publishville # 1 - "The Writing CV & Portfolio"

# "Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten" # - Natasha Bedingfield

I've just returned from a brilliant fortnight's holiday in country far, far away (more on that in my next post here!) and the break from my life in the UK has really helped to fire me up to do a writing "stock take" in order to re-focus my writing in general as well as my "Moon Crater" novel in particular... (so apologies from the outset of this post for the length of it, but if you read on to the end and are interested in what's new with my writing, you won't be disappointed!)

I already alluded to a new series of feature articles I wanted to write here on the blog back in my 2009 preview and that's just what I'm going to begin here today. I've nicknamed this occasional series "On The Road To Publishville" and, bascially, I want to document properly my final journey towards success (or the unthinkable failure!) of getting Moon Crater published now that I've almost tantalisingly finished the final draft of the manuscript. The idea of starting this online journal back in early 2006 was ALWAYS, and still remains to this day, to document my efforts of getting published and since good old '09 is the year I want to make it all work for me, it seems fitting to provide a focused set of blog posts which 'reveal all' about the trials and tribulations of my experience of entering the publishing world proper (especially since I tend to waffle on about other aspects of writing a lot in my posts here too - just see the tags panel in the sidebar for proof!)...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

History in the Making...

# "We are the Custard Pie Appreciation Consortium, God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded them!" # - Kate Rusby

As I continue my journey into the world of writing, I'm finding that the most inspiring things for my scribbles are ones that I just "happen upon", without actually seeking them out... and when I do come across them, I know for definite that they're worth making note of for future writing adventures...

Monday, March 02, 2009

The 2nd Zip Code Challenge is now live...

# "I must give the impression that I have the answers for everything..." # Ben Folds

I'd hoped over the last few weeks to bring you some news about how my story entry in the Invisible Ink 2 anthology turned out, but as I'm finding increasinly happens in the literary world, the cogs of the industry move frustratingly slow and I haven't heard a whisker about the results yet (I'm hoping no news is good news though!) - so, as well as developing my skills at being a patient person, I've found some spare time in amongst the finishing off of the second draft of Moon Crater to launch:

"Volcanic Venus"!
(click the link in the "2nd Code" words above
to begin taking up the Challenge right now!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Results of the 3rd and final Moon Crater Fiction Decisions Poll (from 2008)

# "This dizzy life of mine keeps hanging me up all the time..." # - Counting Crows

I'm beginning the writing of this post with mixed emotions because I'm excited to bring you the results of 2008's 3rd Moon Crater Fiction Decisions Poll but at the same time it's a melancholy event because this is the last time readers will be able to make an impact on my "Moon Crater" novel since it's the FINAL EVER interactive poll I'll run in conjunction with that story... (But never fear! That's doesn't mean there'll never be another Fiction Decisions Poll run for my writing - there's plenty other planned books waiting to begin, so watch this blog and my my Official Website for more news of this in the future!)

After the more "mainstream" Poll # 1 in which I asked readers to help decide the characteristics of my main heroes of the story, and the equally "logical" Poll # 2 whereby I asked for help in determining the setting of my tale and the place that my heroes called "home", with Poll # 3 I wanted to mix things up a bit (especially since last year was a leap year, and getting 'dizzy' with my writing seemed like a good idea at the time!). So the brief was set to get more "vague" details from potential readers by surveying them about decisions of "the sights, sounds and other senses" of the world of "Moon Crater"... Rather than being a tongue-in-cheek exercise, this was actually quite important to me because as I went into the re-drafting mode of my novel during 2008 I knew one of the key things I needed to work on was my descriptive writing, and so this poll's aim was to help out with this very topic...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Time For The End To Begin - the 2008 review and 2009 preview

# “Let's keep it together… Can we keep it together? We're singing a new song now and everything starts today” # - Guster

It's time for that annual event I like to call my "stepping back to go forward" with a review of the past year and a preview of the upcoming one... (you can check out the previous two "year round-ups" from me by clicking here for 2006/2007 and clicking here for 2007/2008. This past year that was 2008, though, was a great year for me as an amateur writer, and in 2009 with the completion of my finished manuscript for my first kids novel in tantalising sight, "the end" is perhaps where the hard work is just beginning... The question remains, by this time next year, will I have been able to turn my (quite serious, don't you know!) hobby as a scribbler into the start of a new career as a professional author?

Well, I have to wait and see, just as much as anyone reading this, but in the meantime, I definitely think it's worth taking stock of where you stand at this time of the new year, so without further delay, here's my rundown of my creative activities throughout the last year as documented here on my writing blog...