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…




As always (and as is happening now!) I began 2009 in January with a round-up of the previous year and my preview for the year to come – 2008 had been the year to begin my “big Write-Up and Type-Up” of my “Moon Crater”TM novel and this continued into 2009 where I forecast that the new year would be “all about the novel”…

To that end, in February of ’09 I rounded off a really successful experiment that I’d begun back in 2006 with the announcement of the 3rd (and final) “Moon Crater”TM Fiction Decisions Poll. (NB - You can still see the set-up and results of all three Polls lower down the sidebar of this journal blog!) To fill in the gap left by the Polls closing on my first novel, in Feb, I also created a new “interactive” creative writing experiment called “Story Starts”. The idea is that I begin writing the beginning of a new story and leave it unfinished so that readers can pick up the task of finishing the tale… “Story Starts” is still going strong and now has a second story added to the page – you can access it by going to my Official Writing Homepage and click on a desk top object that looks like it could be used to mark your homework…

Come March, I thought it was about time that I launched another of “The Zip Code Challenges” that I’d first begun back in July, 2008 – the idea being that this was the main “hunt” for the missing book title and over the course of 10 special challenges accessible through a weirdly wordy object across at my Main Writing Website readers could share in the challenge of collecting clues to track down the REAL title of my “Moon Crater”TM novel. Also this month, I posted about the power of History to inspire writers (something I’ve done a few times before on the blog, and will do again as I move onto working on Novel #2 – my “History Mystery”!) and shared news about a fantastic art film installation that was then showing at the Baltic gallery in my hometown (and is now available online here!)

April rolled around and the real task of the year got going with the creation of a new series of occasional but very special posts entitled “On The Road To Publishville” (which continue into 2010) as I began to gear up towards eventually sending my “Moon Crater”TM manuscript out into the Literary publishing world – I used this first post in the series to talk about how strongly I feel about writers in the 21st century having a “web presence” and establishing a writing portfolio… The other thing that happened in April was that I took a trip of a lifetime with my wife to Japan for a fortnight and made sure I posted about it when I returned – it was such an inspiring country and culture that while I was there I penned a “prelude” to the online gamebook series called “Moon Crater Adventures” that I’m co-creating with artist Rich Windass – the prelude is intended as a sort of Manga-style graphic prologue will be called “At The Time When Time Collapsed”, setting up the main story of Adventure #1: “Simulacrum”… (You can get the lowdown on the crazy wide-eyed notion of these interactive sci-fi tales by going over to my Official Website and clicking on a “suitably spacey” object!)

In May I was in full “rant” mode as I posted about such subjects in creative scribbling as my favourite music to write to (Counting Crows) and the pet hate I have of the modern trend of ”retconning” an old series and messing with the “continuity” of sets of established, well-loved tales… “On The Road To Publishville” #2 also appeared in May where I talked about my experiences formulating the all-important synopsis and cover letter to go out to potential agents and/or publishers…

June arrived with a bang as it marked the first big milestone of me taking my writing onto the web – it was the 3-year anniversary of both this blog journal AND my Official Writing Website and to mark it I charted the potted history of how I’ve made in-roads to advance my online writing since back in ’06, and also launched ALL but a “final five” pages of my Writing Homepage (which has since become the “Secret Six” because I’ve taken one backward timepiece type page down to do some routine maintenance on – normal transmission will resume shortly…). The new pages of my Main Site finished off various genres of my story writing but also added a Twitter page link that I’d begun keeping, as well as a Flickr page tied into the story of my novel… (can you find them across on my Official Website, I wonder?) Also in June I blogged about taking part in the Blaydon Race, an historic 6-mile-or-so run in my home town – it goes back to Victorian times so it’s great to be able to say I took part in this unique event…

July was another anniversary month but not for myself, as I posted on the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landings (well, after all, my novel’s working title and the name of my interactive gamebook I mentioned above both have “Moon” in their names!)

In August I reported on a delay for the 3rd “Zip Code Challenge” but took the opportunity to talk about secret codes and ciphers (which form part of the The Zip Code). This also marked the month that the “Google Pages” I’d used to create a few of the subpages of my main writing website were lost as Google made the switch to Google Sites (it’s all very technical and I’m still not quite clear what happened!) – suffice to say I had to recover a bit from this and “repair” the homepage, but by the year’s end, thankfully, all was sorted (that’ll teach me to try and build a website on the cheap! But then again until I’m actually “paid” as a writer and prove I can make a living from it, I don’t feel I should be putting lots of money into it from this formative end…)

Heading into September I wrote about the choice for new writers of sending a manuscript to either Literary Agents or direct to Publishers in “On The Road To Publishville #3” and asserted that I felt that the best way to forge a real career as an author was to go down the route of a “hunt for the missing agent”…

As I whittled away preparing my initial submissions to a shortlist of agents I was researching, in October I wanted to share a personal post about a “sick summer” I’d experienced after an operation I’d had, and talked a little about the effect my slow recovery was having on my creative scribbles, having suffered a real bout of writer’s block for the first time in my life…

The month of November has traditionally become the time when I give an update on the blog about how the “Moon Crater Adventures” online gamebook is coming along, and so I updated with some new, improved designs that whizz kid artist Rich Windass had come up with, as well as announcing that the gamebook was on “lockdown” until probably November of '10 as I wanted to be able to present the whole book in its entirety online by the end of 2010 (more on this “space odyssey” year for me in the ‘preview’ section below!) Added to that, I also put up “On The Road To Publishville #4”, posting about how to deal with the inevitable rejection letters from agent submissions… (I didn’t want to shy away from sharing the bad news, when I’m so forward in fanfaring my good news on my blog journal too!)

And so we came to the final month of 2009, and with December’s post I wanted to end the year with a post that distanced itself from all of the ramblings I’d done about my first novel previously in the year. I talked about my musings on different “generations” and of a trip I’d had going down the Victoria Tunnel which runs underneath the city I live in and also gave a sneak peak insight into what my 2nd novel would centre around…

So that was the year that was 2009 in the world of my writing… This next part is the section I always enjoy on my January posts, because it’s where I just allow my sometime oddball notions to run riot as I lay out what I hope to achieve in the next 12 months with my scribbles of fiction while I toil away with everyday real life and the day job.…

The first thing is what I hinted at near the beginning of this post, which was the sneaky addition of two new objects onto the title pictures of this blog journal. The Pioneer Patrol emblem now stands to represent my year in 2010 in getting the “Moon Crater Adventures” online gamebook written and the envelope with the seal on it… Well, that sort of represents my “History Mystery” which I also referred to above, and which I’ll also begin writing in 2010…

I painted quite a rosy picture of my writing year in 2009 above but with all the success hype, there were still some failures - I disbanded a couple of writing experiments (the “Moon Crater”TM Facebook and MySpace pages, which I did learn a lot from trying out, but just found I was repeating stuff written here in the blog on those pages, and that was in turn taking up way too much valuable writing time!) and I also failed to find a literary agent to represent my work, (but considering I only really began to send things out at the end of the year, I’m keeping optimistic!). So I’m still “On The Road To Publishville" throughout 2010 and there’ll be more posts of my experiences on that path here very soon…

Last year I also began what I called “Sidebar Stories” which used shorter short stories in the sidebars of my various "Featured Fiction" story pages linked to via my Main Homepage. Not all of the pages I have contain Sidebar Stories yet, so this year too, I’ll get to the task of that, probably beginning with one entitled “Our Man On Mars” – guess which one it’ll appear on, if you can?). I can give you an exclusive that it’ll be linked to the Zip Code Challenge # 4 entitled “Mysterious Mars” but that’s all I’ll say for now… (Why am I so obsessed with the Red Planet and not the Moon all of a sudden? Hmm… That would be telling!)

Talking of brand new stories, I’ll let you see my “slideshow preview” once more here of the short stories I intend to finish and allow readers to see via my Main Writing Homepage during the course of 2010:



Added to this, I’ve got some exciting prospects in the form of a new “Ghost and ‘Rum’ story website” that launching sometime in ’10 and is very interested in displaying some of my short stories – all I can say for now is there’s “murther” afoot! And I’ve been invited to submit a brand new story for an exciting e-book that’s being put together this year as well. I’m also hopeful that my success in getting a short story on hospital radio (and into syndication there) in 2009 will continue into 2010 with them accepting more of my creative tales that they’ll record and read… The only other thing I haven’t managed to achieve yet, which I’m determined to at last start this year is to begin “Podcasting” – both using my existing short stories and also talking about writing in general – so watch this space for news on that soon, and of course my Official Website, where more of the "Secret Six" final objects to be unlocked will become clickable throughout 2010... (including a small gentleman with a rather pointy hat, who'll be helping myself and some friends celebrate the 10th anniversary of a fun and creative film project, made at the turn of the Millennium!)



So all in all I’ve probably filled my plate up too much, like one of those all-you-can-eat restaurant nights… (hopefully I won’t have to leave too much to waste!) Apart from the feeling of history being made in 2010 on my writing (giving me a good setting for my “History Mystery” second novel!), the year’s also started in a suitably sci-fi way for me, working on my main project of the year with the “Moon Crater Adventures”, with a seemingly boring trip to the supermarket a few weeks ago that resulted in my first ever genuine UFO sighting… So I guess my overall writing message is “look to the past” and of course “look to the skies” this year and keep your eagle-eyes peeled… (because the “Nanonauts” are coming! Oops, said too much already!)


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