Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"A long December" - final thoughts to a unique year...

# "Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road... Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go... # - Green Day

To paraphrase an old sitcom here in the UK, “It’s been a funny old year…” because, looking back, the 12 months that made up 2010, for me, marked a period of my life that I just couldn’t have predicted this time, back in 2009. Of course, I’d like to be able to say that this is because I’d finally found a literary agent for my writing (a process I began late in 2009) – but that particular “Road” rumbles ever onward on my horizon… Still, though, it’s been a bit of a life-changing year, what with being made redundant from my long-standing job of around a decade and (thankfully) finding new employment which I’m very happy to be in, rather than just settling for the first thing that came along… But I can’t indulge in too much reflection here – partly because that’s the job for my first post of the new year in 2011 but also because in general, I tend to be a bit too reflective a person and one of my new year resolutions is definitely to look forward more, rather than back…


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Man in the Moon - a Century Not Out...

# "I'm a rocket ship on my way to Mars... on a collision course!" - Queen


It’s high time I did a round-up post for my “great experiment” of 2010 which I began back in June and rocketed across 100 days of writing to its (semi)completion in November. I say “semi-completion” because standing now at the end of this grand endeavour, I have mixed feelings about how successful its actually been…


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bringing it Back In Time!

# “Tell me doctor, where are we going this time? Is it the 50s or 1999?!” #Huey Lewis & The News

On this precise day, October 26, at 1:21am, in the year 1985, a crazy wide-eyed scientist intended to travel 25 years into the future in a time machine that he himself built. Unfortunately some dastardly Libyans put pay to his plans but as I sit typing this post, I can’t help reflecting upon (in my humble opinion!) one of the greatest adventure stories that’s now being re-released for it’s 25th anniversary at the cinema and on Blu-ray…

Back To The Future is one of my favourite films of all time (pun very much intened!) and it's great to finally see the original film of this epic trilogy back on the big screen this month - especially since I saw the sequels there but only ever got to see the first film of the series on telly VHS back as a kid in the late 80s here in the UK. My first memory of it was on TV when I spotted a quirky-sounding adventure film in the Christmas listings magazine and decided to record and add it to my growing collection of home video film collection, (it became a yearly ritual to buy my festive pack of blank VHS tapes for Christmas TV recordings to continue to educate myself with the great and the good of films past and present, as a kid and teenager)...



Sunday, September 26, 2010

Things they lost in the garden...

# "In the backyard... In the garden... You were always there, digging down where roots would burrow underneath......" # - Guster

We’ve started the grim task of closing up our garden for the autumn in recent weeks, clearing out our summer vegetable plots, cutting the grass for (hopefully!) the last time in the year and collecting in the last of the apples from our fantastic bramley tree which we inherited from the previous owners of the house.

I say it’s a “grim” task because when we finally admit summer is over and we begin to spend less time in our garden, it’s a sad time. We’re lucky to currently have a garden that’s about 26 metres long, so lots of space, and it’s a place we’ve found blossoming enjoyment in over the short five years we’ve grown from Gardener’s World novices to wannabe green-fingered experts, ready to bore any party into The Good Life oblivion with our talk of the best places to planet Nisterchions to the many varieties of cabbage and when is the best time of year to plant each one...


Friday, August 27, 2010

100 Days of Writing Halfway Update! “Houston we may have a problem…”

# “Past the old school on the avenue, I am running, I am running... and now, I'm halfway home…” #Nerina Pallot


It's about time I posted a long overdue update on how my "100 Days of Writing" has been going, since I've recently passed Day 50 of this epic struggle between writer and blank page... What the heck am I going on about? Well, back in June this year, I embarked on a long-held personal promise to attempt to complete work on a long-planned novella called "Moon Crater: Adventures - Simulacrum" and "Tweet" about the whole affair via my Twitter account...

From the beginning and "Day 1", I set up certain rules (and, of course, along the way learned to bend them a bit!), such as not writing at weekends, but treating the writing as I do my day job, working at it 5 days a week, on weekday evenings. And while the first half century of days have been successful in at least getting me to regularly commit a set time each day to looking at, thinking about and regularly scribbling (and typing) away at Simulacrum, it's also had it's less successful elements. As I've mentioned before on the blog, from Day 1 of this 100 Days of writing, I began this routine in the midst of upheaveal in my daily working routine as I was made redundant from my day job of 10 years... Now, thankfully, I've actually got a new job (still in the field of TV, which I continue to enjoy and draw creative energy from), but adjusting to new working hours and a different daily routine has meant that the 100 days have on occasion taken a hit (I also forgot that I'd be on holiday for at least two periods during the 100 Days, thus some slightly obvious gaps inbetween my Tweets!)...


Thursday, August 05, 2010

On The Road To Publishville # 6 - "Course Corrections & New Headings"

# “I’m one of a million pieces fallen on the ground, it’s one of the reasons when we say goodbye, we’ll still come around…” # - Counting Crows


I actually couldn't remember when I last sat down and wrote a new piece in my "On The Road To Publishville" saga, so I thought it was about time I put finger to keyboard and provided an update on my efforts to get my first novel into print, following the route of finding a literary agent. With this latest entry into my occasional series of posts, I want to talk a little about what happens when life outside of writing takes over and "interrupts" your creative pursuits.

As well as rejections from agents, there’s all sorts of stumbling blocks that can get in the way of you sitting down and getting to the practical task of writing. For me, it's been the fact that I was suddenly made redundant from my full-time day job as a TV Subtitler at the end of May and (for around 2 months) suddenly had pressures from all sorts of areas that I just didn't have to worry about before, when I was sailing along, writing regularly in my leisure time. I've already talked here on the blog about how I planned to "fill the silence" with my writing pursuits, but despite my best efforts, and because of the anxiety and need to bring an income in from something other than a non-paying hobby, I found I didn't have as much free time as I thought I might have had going into this strange, other-worldly plane of existence called "redundancy"...


Monday, July 19, 2010

"Veni, vidi, pustuli!"

# "If you believe that there's a bond between our future and our past, try to hold on to what we had, we build them strong, we built to last..." # - Jimmy Nail

In AD 122, so the history books tell us, Emperor Hadrian of the Roman Empire ordered a grand structure to be built to cut through the British Isles from east to west and isolate Scotland... This "Roman Wall" has been on the doorstop of where we've lived all of our lives, so this summer, my wife and I planned (and I'm happy to report completed!) our own Hadrian's Wall walk. We were walking it to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society and I thought I'd write up a report for the blog on our whole adventure, because by this walking week's end I'd come up with a brand new series of stories to begin working on in the near future...

Day 1: "Urban Jungle" - our first day was a leisurely start but would be one of our longest at 15 miles, from our home, to Wallsend, to beginning the walk proper and then on to Heddon-on-the-Wall for our first night's welcome rest. After getting our first official trail "stamp" for our Wall passports at Segedunum in Wallsend, we were off! This first section of the National Trail follows the riverside for the most part and not the true line of the Wall - we think it's probably to avoid the major roads that have cropped up in the 1600 years since the Romans were here but whatever the reason, we'll have to do a "fill-in" walk for ourselves at some point in the future to trod that real route from Wallsend, through Byker and Westgate Road, up and over West Road, down to Denton Burn and then Heddon itself... The path we did follow though was pleasant enough, although quite built up in parts of Wallsend and Scotswood, and was mainly on Tarmac - wearing my newish boots for this was probably not the brightest idea I ever had because by day's end I had developed and popped at least two blisters... But this first day did get us going and was mainly on the flat, except of course once we'd passed the Newburn Country Park and were then faced with a near-vertical climb to Heddon - we saw the collection of houses on the hillside from afar but kept telling ourselves they couldn't be the ones we'd eventually end up at - of course, they were! So when we got to our B&B for the night, it was definitely well-earned...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"I feel the need,... the need to read..."

# "Here we are inside a novel, waiting for an end... We don't know the authors of the book, maybe someone's writing chapters for us while we sleep... from a million miles away" - Guster

Since the longest day passed me by so quickly yesterday and summer is finally officially here, I thought I'd post about one of my favourite pastimes as an adult, which wasn't really something I liked to do growing up...
It might sound strange for a wannabe writer to say he was a "reluctant reader" (and sometimes still is) but for a mixture of reasons - being of the MTV and games console generation, obsessesed with Lego and toy soldiers and associating picking up a book too much with schoolwork - I have been a late developer in appreciating a good read.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE books - and I think you need to, for others to ultimately love the books you want to write, but I've come round to this on/off affair from a more "distant" standpoint, watching them from afar at first and creeping ever closer as I grew older. As a kid, we always had books around the house, and not just on shelves, in a set place - my dad loved gardening books and they were often just littered around the fireplace and armchairs, my mam read Catherine Cookson book after Catherine Cookson book, retelling the story to my brother and myself once she'd read them, and we had fantastic sets of encyclopedia's which were the go-to authority on all our homework needs (Wikipedia and the Net were unimagined entities back in the mid-80s)...


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

“Searching for a use for the Redundant Robot”…

“# Don't wanna see the stars, don't wanna see the moon… I am a spaceman flying high, I am the astronaut in the sky!” - Amy MacDonald


I'm the kind of person who likes to fill awkward silences... I know people who are completely comfortable (and actually thrive) on mute gaps in proceedings but I can jabber on for Queen and country with the best of them, normally talking about everything and nothing at the same time, just to avoid the dreaded lull in conversation... So when I suddenly found in May that I was by the end of the month being made redundant from my day job, I knew I'd have to use my new-found spare time constructively and fill the "space"...

Conveniently, I knew it was also time for a second update in my "2010 - an Odyssey in Space" year as I continue to attempt to create my 'Seal Your Own Fate' online gamebook (you can get the full lowdown on the evolution of this idea, incidentally, by going back to my Official Writing Homepage and clicking on a "suitably spacey object"), so as I also search for another way to pay the bills with a new day job, from the beginning of June, I've also decided to begin a "100 days of writing" to finished the novella-sized "Simulacrum", which is the first of 3 "Moon Crater: Adventures" stories...


Monday, May 17, 2010

The Box of Life...

# "He's cleared all his things and he's put them in boxes, things that remind him: 'Life has been good'... And I'm sorry, Mr. Jones, it's time..." # - Ben Folds


“He’s left this box for you,” my uncle told me.

“What’s in it?” I replied.

“Open it and see…”



That’s how one story from my childhood began, and recently I’ve been reminded of it as I took out that same dusty shoebox from the loft of my grown-up house to take a look once again at its contents...


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

“Oh, me of little voice…" (but I've still reached 100 squeaks!)

#“I was out on the radio, starting to change… Somewhere out in America, it’s starting to rain…” # – Counting Crows

So here it is, a real milestone (or a “signpost”, maybe?) in my online scribbles – this post marks the 100th blog post that I’ve created to date since first establishing this online journal for my writing back in May 2006… I’ve talked about a lot of different writing themes on the blog since first setting it up, from timelines to continuity and “ret-conning”, through writing polls and note-keeping to obsessive obsessions and then the places I like to travel to, as well as places I draw inspiration from, through game books and comic books, and of course, my own books…, (or the ones I’m hoping to get published in the future). But to mark this centenary blog post, I’ve decided use the space here to give a preview of something that I’ve been eager to get off the ground for about two years now and that’s to launch my very own writing podcast, and I’m hoping to record it starting from tomorrow, April 22nd (which, being “EARTH DAY” is a very, very significant day in the world of Moon CraterTM!)...


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On The Road To Publishville # 5 - "Self Doubt & Keeping The Faith"

# “That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion…” # - REM

With this fifth post in my “On The Road To Publishville” special-focus series, it’s unfortunate that I have to expand on my previous post on the subject of “rejections” , since I’ve continued to receive them for my “Moon Crater”TM manuscript… It’s not all “doom and gloom” though, because this really does give me the chance to stop, take stock and reflect on this minor setback, and obviously share this experience with fellow wannabe writers who might find themselves in a similar position…

My initial reaction on receiving each of the now six literary agent rejections I’ve got back for “Moon Crater”TM has been one that’s swung from gentle optimism to utter despair within the space of the day I get the said “Thanks, but no, thanks” messages. Suffice it to say that I’m ever hopeful that Agent Number 7 will be my lucky one but I’m also glad that the ones I’ve targeted so far accept email submissions because to be rejected after what sounds like weeks for snail-mail submission replies would probably feel a whole lot worse and a whole lot more of a waste of time… So once you accept the fact you’ve now received a number of rejections (I always send a polite reply back to say “Thanks for your ‘Thanks, but, not thanks’,”) and settle down to the ‘recovery’ phase, I think it’s probably important to ask yourself if your approach to literary agents might need refining. There’s some great articles for this on Cynthia Liu’s writing site and I’m now in the process of re-editing my cover letter and synopsis (which should be tailored to each individual submission anyway) in an effort to make myself and my book more attractive, whilst also refining the professional approach I’m going for...


Friday, February 26, 2010

"A good year to be over the Moon..."

# “I want to see gamma rays, I want to hear X-rays and I want to smell dark matter…” # – (from BSG: The Plan - “Apocalypse” by Bear McCreary)




I thought I’d begin this very first post in my new “2010 - odyssey in space” Seal Your Own Fate series of posts with a clip of the song I’m quoting lyrics from (above) with the actual audio to the tune as well. I often write with music in the background, and this is just one of the finest sci-fi tunes I’ve heard recently, so thought I’d provide it here (for non-profit!) for readers to perhaps play in the background as they peruse through this post…


Friday, February 19, 2010

"Damn those interchangeable/irreversible numbers?!"

# "Three... is a magic number..." # - Bob Dorough

I turned 33 this month… You probably can’t hear it, but as I read that first sentence back to myself there’s a sort of dramatic horror-type piano chord playing. I’m not usually one to get caught up in the whole “dreading getting older” mindset and I actually look forward to getting wiser with my encroaching years (even turning the big 3-0 didn’t scare me,… that much!) But for some unknown and un-pin-downable reason, 33 seems to be an ominuous number to reach…

I think one of the reasons is that with each "biggish" birthday I've enjoyed the fact that in my own head, I can reverse the digits and feel like I can still act the age of those turnaround numbers (21 became 12, 30 was 03!) but reaching 33 it's the first real time that I've got to an age year and properly realised there's no way to mentally escape my actual age any more... (turn around 33 and I'm still 33!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

"12 months in production..." (the 2009 review and 2010 preview!)

# “It's the perfect time of year, somewhere far away from here, I feel fine enough, I guess… considering everything's a mess…” # - the Barenaked Ladies

Hopefully you had a good Christmas break and rest over the festive period – while it was a great recharge of the batteries for me, the past month or so personally has been quite challenging but now the dawn of the new year has brought new hope for this weary 30-something and I feel ready to take on 2010 with its bucketfuls of potential and the promises of new opportunities to come…

So much so, in fact that the eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that the title picture of this blog journal has had a couple of sneaky additions made to it with the arrival of ’10 – more on these below, but first I have some much needed reminiscing to indulge in (what else is a blog for?!) while I run down how the year of 2009 went for me and my attempts at progressing my aspirations to become a professional author…