Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"What's Past is Prologue..."

# "Turn the clock to zero boss, the river's wide we'll swim across, we're starting up a brand new day..." # - Sting

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven,

A time to be born, and a time to die,
a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted,

A time to kill, and a time to heal,
a time to break down, and a time to build up,

A time to weep, and a time to laugh
a time to mourn, and a time to dance,

A time to cast away stones
and a time to gather stones together,

A time to embrace
and a time to refrain from embracing,

A time to get, and a time to lose
a time to keep, and a time to cast away,

A time to rend, and a time to sew
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak,

A time to love, and a time to hate
a time of war, and a time of peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Using Mood Music as your Muse...

# “Sing, it’s your favourite song, when you’re singing along, nothing is wrong…” Ben Lee

Way back when I started this blog journal and set out on the path of my “life creative”, I posted about the influence of music on my scribbles and I thought it was about time that I expanded on that original tuneful post a little… To this day, just short of a decade after writing that first post, music still plays a huge part in how and what I write.  I like to listen to music to get me into the right mood and frame of mind before embarking on a particular story or novel, and even in my leisure time, when sometimes the last thing I want to think about is scribbling another line on a page, I more often than not opt for film soundtracks, rather than pop music as a way to unwind and turn off my muddled brain…

Friday, October 24, 2014

"How shall we remember them?"

# “Well, I thought about the army, Dad said, ‘Son, you’re (flippin’) high!’”Ben Folds

There's a lot been made in 2014 (and set to be made over the coming four years) of the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, and I thought I'd add in my humble scribbles, a century later, about it all by citing some short extracts of my own family's involvement in the "War to End All Wars" (and indeed the unthinkable follow-up War that followed it a few decades later)

I’ve yet to fully flesh out these real stories behind these family members (something I intend to do over the coming year by chatting to and audio-recording surviving elders of the family who actually knew the people I’ll be mentioning below) but I thought I’d set down what I do know for now and then fill in the gaps in future posts here on the blog by 2018…

Monday, September 29, 2014

"A Summer of Cycling" - the Sequel!!!

# "What if I'd been born fifty years before you, in a house on a street where you lived? Maybe I'd be outside as you passed on your bike... Would I know?" # - Ben Folds

Late last summer I posted here on the blog about one of my favourite past-times that feeds my creative scribble pursuits by giving me time and space to think up new stories.  Progressing my prose with pedal power on a folding bike is something I've continued into 2014 (halfway to work after getting on an overland train) but I've also now added in a full cycle to work on my mountain bike, travelling the full 13 miles to my day job - traversing a wider variety of terrain and hopefully extending my fitness levels a bit...

So for anyone interested, I'm riding a cheapo (Halfords £99 in the sale) Mountain Bike "Shockwave" with 18 Shimano gears but have modified the bike slightly by adding some "semi-slick" tyres to aid my speed on the roads and cycle paths to work (incidentally I can't claim to be cycling this 26 mile total every single day of the working week - I still use the folding bike on my "off days" so to speak - and I have to confess, the car on the days I need to be in faster.

But it's still a speedy journey on the mountain bike to and fro - the 13 miles takes me about 1 hour 13 minutes on the downhill(ish) track on the way to work and then about 1 hour and 30 minutes on the way back home.  But it's satisfying to think I'm getting my exercise out of the way within the working day, rather than having to go back out again once I'm home in the evening (and it's relatively cheap compared to the gym!)

So a lot of this "training" was in aid of a charity bike ride that a colleague at my office set up in late summer to cycle "The Wall" - Hadrian's Cycle Route, in fact - and I thought I'd let the pictures do the talking for the rest of this post on that epic 62-mile journey which took us from sunrise to sun-fall to complete...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Coming full circle" (deconstructing a classic TV series)

# "I'm a rocket ship, on my way to Mars, on a collision course - I'm out of control..." # - Queen

Is the circle complete?
(from novel writing to scriptwriting...)
In 2014, I've found myself and my scribbles drifting closer and closer towards thoughts of scriptwriting... I still consider myself as an adventure-novel writer but I'm also on a bit of a journey this year in exploring other forms of creative writing anyway (with resurrecting old poetry and trying out my pitching skills through my day job at ITV).

For as long as I can remember, I've been a huge fan of stories told through the medium of television and film, having always enjoyed sitting in front of the box at home and also spent a lot of time in my various day jobs over the last few decades working in TV.  And within the longer stories I try to construct in book form, I've become increasingly aware that I 'visualise' scenes and action, more like films and TV portray.  So I've got to thinking about my various favourite stories on-screen over the years (there's many, and the others I will no doubt get to in the next few years here on the blog!) but one TV series in particular that sticks out as a milestone in impressing me with a "continuing story" on screen was the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Smallest Story Ever Told...?

# "It's the small, small, small talk that makes it all happen!" # - Roxette

Just over a year ago, I embarked on my 'next big adventure' of beginning to craft a new novel, after the ten years or so constructing my first attempt at a full-length book.  One thing I knew for sure was that this new story needed to be written a bit more quickly and it was probably going to be aimed at a slightly younger age range than the first, because of the subject matter - gnomes...

So the aim with this gnome tome (which I've actually now began to refer to as "my gnome gnovel" and you can keep bang up to date with by going to my Official Writing Website and clicking or tapping on the gnome object sitting on the desktop) was to enter a writing realm I'd never ventured into before - fantasy...

Monday, June 30, 2014

THE Man from Uncle...

# "If dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts" - Counting Crows

Last year, I became an uncle for the first time, and although I haven't got any children of my own yet, the burden of responsibility that the moniker 'uncle' brings to bear does weigh on my mind at times (I've always been an over-thinker, you understand!).  I think the reason I find this as an important phase of my life is perhaps because I hold one of my own uncles in such great esteem.

It was a couple of years ago that I blogged here about my paternal grandfather, another treasured family member in my memory who I was lucky enough to know for 9 years of my life as a child.  Well, John Allan senior had two sons - Derek and John junior (Derek is my dad, who I'll definitely get round to blogging about sometime soon - for now though you can see some of his beautiful artwork on my short kids story Kyle's Courage at my Official Writing Homepage by clicking on the higher grouping of pebbles... from the riverbank!) but it's John junior who is one of the other important role models I've had growing up, and who's the subject of this particular blog post...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thinking Big on a Small Scale...

# "I've been thinkin' a lot today... Oh, I think I'll write a screenplay... Oh, I think I'll take it to LA... Oh, I think I'll get it done yesterday!" # - Ben Folds

I don’t usually begin my posts with “embedded content” but since I was the one writing the above commentary, talking about my work as a video editor and animator for ITV Signed Stories, I thought it was a good way to introduce this post about another creative aspect of my day job... (you can get a sneak peak at my edited story Sir Charlie Stinky Socks & the Frightful Night at the end of this post!)

I’ve worked for ITV for almost 4 years now and every so often an opportunity for some creative writing within the day job comes up - one such recent chance was the "Big Think", run internally by ITV across the whole company, searching for new programme ideas for the future...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MY Never-Ending Stories...

# "Here I am - same old story in a brand new book..." # - Train

Some eagle-eyed readers (or indeed "listeners") may have found out that I've been going through a bit of a period of "writer's block" recently.  Now, I'm sure different scribblers define this pariah of a 'condition' by different degrees, but for me, it tends to be when I hit a significant amount of time (probably about 2 or 3 months) where although I'm still having ideas for stories and jotting down notes for future books, I'm not actually getting down to a daily routine of the hard graft of writing.

I've no idea why this happens but this particular bout has come at the end of a rather long over-development stage (drafting and redrafting) of "my space saga".  And while this was definitely a milestone, having worked on that first adventure novel for a good decade, perhaps the exhaustion factor had set in a little and I hadn't realised, as I tried to launch myself into my next project of "my gnome gnovel", petrified that I'd just grind to a complete halt after my great magus opus was "completed".  So my present situation with the writing is that I'm regrouping and redoubling my efforts on that book about the tiny-people (which in itself, being more of a fantasy narrative structure, is a departure for me, out of my comfort zone of writing - perhaps this is another contributing factor to the writer's block?), but in the meantime, I'm also keeping creative in other ways with my writing...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Playing the Numbers Game...

# "Casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there counting crows... One for sorrow, two for joy, three for girls and four for boys, five for silver, six for gold... seven for a secret never to be told # " - Counting Crows

I've never been a fan of playing the lottery, running the gambit of hoping that each week my chosen set of numbers might spring me into a new life of fame and riches - I'm much more cynical that surely all those numbers crunched by a machine MUST somehow be fixed in some way (but then again conspiracy theories are much more fun for a fiction writer to imagine!) But having making this opening blow against games of chance, I still get a little obsessed at times with numbers themselves and how they can be used to effect in a narrative to help maximise the reader's enjoyment.

My favourite number, perhaps predictably as a child was the number 7 (isn't it everyone's at one time or another?) but as I grew up, maybe quirkily or perhaps because of an innate feeling of wanting to go against the grain, that favourite changed to the number 13...  The first house that myself and my wife moved into to begin our married life was number 13 and it's become quite a "lucky" number for us, when for others it's a pariah number to be avoided at all costs...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Keep It Simple, Scribbler!" - a 2014 Writing PREVIEW!

# "I've gotta get it right the first time, that's the main thing..." # - Billy Joel 

I traditionally start my blog posts with a song lyric, like the one above but I was really tempted to open this teaser trailer of my coming writing attractions for 2014 with a quote from Albert Einstein that I recently stumbled across that says, "Imagination is everything, it is the preview of life's coming attractions..." because it kind of sums up how I approach my creative scribbles - it all begins with an idea that grows in my mind ages before it appears on a page, brewing away until I feel it's ready to preview to the world...

Monday, January 20, 2014

"Sound as a Pound... or Penny!" (the 2013 Writing REVIEW!)

# "Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound, funny, but it's still rock and roll to me! # Billy Joel

I've titled this post with a kind of sarcastic tone, not to take the mickey out of myself (although all scribblers probably need to do that from time to time to keep a level head!) but more to remind me where I'm at in my writing life... I've been jotting down ideas and scribbling wild-eyed notions for nye-on 15 years now but in writing years that probably translates into me still being a toddler (hence the "penny", rather than the "pound" in the title).  I'm up on my feet as an amateur writer but still need to steady myself now and again on the furniture around me, and 2013, looking back was a brilliant year for helping gain confidence in walking tall as a scribbler (but in 2014 I need to make in roads with an agent for my writing to be able to properly start running around the place!)  So I think it's worth a look back on the old year that was, to reflect on my minor achievements in writing and to help spur me onwards into this new year...