Category Archives: Random

Playstation Warning!

Well, I do like to keep myself busy …

It’s been quite a year, even by my reckoning: I’ve moved house, got engaged, changed jobs, fixed a fence, changed a roof, written a few thousand words, got a PS4, made L40 on Destiny and – to top it all – got married.

What I sadly haven’t done is blog, market, comment on friends sites (though I am still keeping an eye on you all!) or get quite as much of G’host written as I’d have liked.  Hopefully that will change in 2016 as my activities this year have actually simplified an otherwise very complex lifestyle.

G’host is coming along nicely, and the extra thinking time is helping to hone characters, develop plot lines and tune technical connections.  But writing full length novels is a mammoth task and, to stay true to my three main principles for writing, I need to make sure I’m enjoying what I do, when I’m doing it.  There’s no point otherwise.

As I love writing, there’s no doubt that G’host will creep closer to completion next year … the only risk is if the PS4 takes over!

Merry Christmas everyone …

‘Tis The Season…

To be … whatever you want to be!

Merry Christmas

❄❄❄ Merry Christmas! ❄❄❄

And on that basis, here’s a quick update on what’s been happening in my busy world over the last few weeks.

First off, I’ve managed to find a few fragments of time and done some more work on G’host.  Admittedly, not as much as I’d have liked, but some all the same.  I’m pleased about that, but also slightly disappointed that I’m not going to be able to post a scene from it, here, as a tribute for the holidays.

The scene I am working on suits the season very well and my idea to use it as a post is what inspired me to get back to the keyboard.  Unfortunately, inspiration can only get you so far, and tiredness from several months of long work days doesn’t facilitate good prose.  So the scene is coming along but is, sad to say, nowhere near ready enough for a public airing.

It is, however, nice to report that I’ve had some more, very nice, positive feedback from a number of readers over the last month.  This is always a real joy.  Thanks to anyone who’s ever offered encouragement to any writer: dark days haunt more than just winter months…

I could blather on about restarting my ski-fit regime in readiness for heading for the slopes next year, or about finally sorting my kitchen out after six years of putting up with randomly painted duck-egg blue walls but, as you can tell, it’s not exactly rock and roll news, and so I’m not going to waste any more of your precious seconds in the countdown to the big day…!

Rather, I’ll close by saying: to any stranger who happens past, and to all of my kind and wonderful friends, I wish you all a joyful Christmas and prosperous New Year.

See you in 2014…!

The Wild Blue, Yonder…

Time for me to vanish for a while.

For many months I’ve been wrestling with good and bad spirits, and now it’s time for me to put some dedicated effort into ensnaring them; in black and white.

I’m hopeful that a stretch of golden sand, some warm weather, blue skies and crashing surf will provide a suitably undisturbed backdrop for my notepads and meditations.

So wish me luck and see you soon…  :)  AB

RIP Iain Banks

And so, once again, we are reminded that the only certainty in life, is death.  And that death can come with little warning, at any time.  Every breath is precious, every second should be treasured…

This is not a long post.  I cannot claim to be anything other than one of the many hundreds of thousands of people who have been captivated by the words, worlds, and utterly staggering imagination of this seemingly quietly-spoken Scotsman.

Iain, wherever you are, know that your life made a lasting mark on me and I, for one, will sadly miss you.

What’s Up?

Apologies for a distinct lack of posts recently.  I’ve been kept rather busy by the boring and mundane necessities of living a normal life and only being a part-time writer!

Nonetheless, I am cracking on in the background on the storyboard, character biographies and research for my next novel.  Things are progressing nicely although, for the first time, I’ve realised that the scope of the tale is now definitely far beyond a single work.  This is kind of tricky, and new ground for me.  Whilst Firebird and Thunder are both written with open hooks for pre or sequels, the storyline I sat down with for each of them had a contained beginning, middle, and end.  It was clear how much ground they’d cover.  This is not the case with the new one. In fact, I’m scoping and storyboarding across what will likely be several manuscripts.

There is the option to write one, massive, blockbuster – but I’m not sure that the few fans I’ve got – or even I – have got enough patience to wait till I’ve finished it! So, as it is, I’m just marking up thoughts and ideas for later works and concentrating on honing the important components for at least a “Book One”.

It’ll be another sci-fi/fantasy/action and adventure mashup with possibly a tiny dash of UF just for the hell of it…  Crazy?  Maybe, but my objectives have and always will be to try to create stories that are a little bit off the beaten track!

Anyway, I also promised an update on how my pricing programme was progressing.  Well at the moment, my jury is still out.  Firebird does seem to be ticking over slightly more regularly at its price of 99c and Thunder is also selling the odd copy at my old base price.  Recent weeks have seen a very slight upturn, but that might just be a seasonal effect.  I’ll keep you posted as the months roll by.

To be honest, I’m way past thinking my books will ever earn me more than the odd pound or two and I’m genuinely excited and honoured whenever I see that someone has taken a punt to give one of them a go.  And at least with slow sales I’m not under any pressure to pump out the next one!

From Snow to Snow…

I’m back from my trip to Canada.  The long journey was recompensed by lots of nice powder-snow, some bright sunshine, and news that the UK was colder – at times – than British Columbia!  Have to admit: it is blooming chilly here…   Roll on Spring!

I’ve noticed that, whilst I was away, both Firebird and Thunder have picked up some nice reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  I’m always very grateful for any words of support and encouragement, so thank-you to those who have taken time to write them!  I really appreciate your support.

Am still storyboarding my next project which will be a return to a science-fantasy, action and adventure, theme.  More news and updates shortly…

[Now then, where did I pack my woolly jumpers…???]

How Do You Judge Success…?

So you’ve toiled long and hard to pull together your first manuscript – or second – or whatever.  You’ve fought the good fight and, by some miracle, formatted it so it looks at least half-decent on an eReader.  You’ve swallowed back your fears, assembled your ego around you, grimaced, and pressed the publish button…

Then what?

How do you judge success?

It seems to me that this is just as variable a concept as the diverse subject matter of stories themselves…

For me, my views have varied over the last couple of years and I guess I’m now coming to terms with the following phrase: whatever defines success for one of my stories, it will likely take a long time to reveal itself.

I suppose a lucky – very lucky – few will see success immediately.  For some reason their books will spark a wildfire of enthusiasm amongst readers and their stories will fly off the shelves; personally I think this is an extremely remote possibility if you don’t have the weight and power of a publishing house’s promotional machinery behind you.

The rest of us will need to be much more patient.

I started writing with a simple ambition: to test myself at a personal level.  Pretty much just to see if I could do it…  It’s not an easy task, as I’m sure most of you will agree…  In the end, I produced a book and faced a new question: what next?  This was what led me to publish… no dreams of grandeur, or huge reward, or whatever…  Basically, if I’d done nothing, Firebird would have sat rotting on a disk-drive somewhere.  It would have had absolutely zero possibility of being enjoyed by anyone else.

Now Firebird has been out there for almost two years.  It has been downloaded several thousand times but, generally, I feel pleased if it moves even a tiny handful of copies in a month.  Is this the benchmark?  Well – given the amount of books on offer, the amount of books I personally get through in an average year and the very limited exposure my books get – maybe the answer is yes?  For sure, I feel very honoured and humbled that my story is still occasionally being picked up and read by people.

What publishing also did though, was give me new insights.  The simple, brutal, reality of having your writing in general circulation, the often critical nature of feedback, and the occasional positive encouragement have enabled me to step forwards and hone my writing skills.  I am, despite the occasional pains, eternally grateful for this.

It has also helped me to move on and produce a second book.

These things would have been denied me, if I’d not taken the plunge.

Like so much in life, the different facets of success are often hidden in the corners of the obvious, tucked away behind so-called measures of popularity, masked by charts, star-ratings, and sales figures…  In my opinion, being successful is not, on its own, a viable motivation for writing.  Better, surely, to write simply to find out if you can, to stretch your imagination, to see if you can find personal pleasure and enjoyment from the process and, in the end, to discover whether your tales can entertain others?

Perhaps the bottom line becomes:  does it matter; tell your stories anyway?

Because an untold story has no chance at all.

So That Was The Year, That Was…

… Almost permanently wet.

It feels like only yesterday that I sat and drafted last year’s resume and here I am again: doing my annual audit and checking off what’s happened.  It’s kind of scary how quickly this comes around – time flies past us at an alarming pace, doesn’t it?

So anyway, 2012 was a year of quite significant contrasts for me.  Almost a “game of two halves”, if you’ll allow me to disabuse a soccer analogy…

For much of the year I was, effectively, unemployed.  This is never a great place to be but I didn’t give up on finding gainful employment (of the type that pays well enough to cover the bills) and was lucky enough to land a new role this Autumn.  That, on its own, would probably be achievement enough for one year but I have a few more:

  • Garden fences painted (despite the perpetual rain)
  • Garage woodwork stripped and painted (despite the perpetual rain)
  • Loft boarded (because there’s only so much rain you can take…)
  • Bedroom decorated (will it ever stop raining?)
  • Olympic flame watched (in a brief gap in the deluge – lucky me!)
  • Olympics cheered (along with 55 million other damp Brits)…

And, probably most importantly:

  • Thunder written (12 hours a day until May, then left alone for three months, then edited alongside starting my new job – i.e. over a month of far too many hours a day)…

With Thunder, I’d set myself a personal goal to see if I could improve on some of Firebird’s flaws: I think I have.  I’d also set myself a goal to publish in Autumn: I only just made it.  So why push so hard?  Why not just kick back, or give up, or not bother to set stretching goals?

Well, regular visitors will know that my year also included the unexpected and sudden loss of a friend.  A friend from whom I’d drifted apart, but was on the verge of meeting up with.  A meeting that circumstance kept delaying until, one day, he just didn’t come home from his holidays…

It’s shocking when something like this happens.  Especially when death comes prematurely to someone only a handful of years older than me.  But it serves to remind us that life is a short and fleeting gift.  Time travels past us too quickly.  The rain may never stop…

We have a choice as to what we do with the life we’re given: use it, or lose it.  And I’m determined to try my best to grab every second I’m lucky enough to be gifted, and to wring the most I can out of every single one…

Here’s to 2013: another cycle, another raft of seconds, another chance to do crazy things, to laugh, to cry, to make merry, or hay, or just to have fun…

Happy New Year Everyone!

Thunder: A Brief Editorial Update

I know… I know…!

I was a little ambitious with my timeline for Thunder…

This post is a short update to let you know that I’m about halfway through my final edit and I suspect it will be a few more weeks before the book is finally ready for publication.

Why is it taking so long?  Well, firstly, it was really important that I let the book settle for a few months before coming back to it.  Being able to read with a “fresh pair of eyes”, has helped me to see that the front end needed quite a lot of fine tuning to improve flow and consistency.

With hindsight that’s understandable, I suppose.  Even though Thunder was written over a few months, as an almost full time activity, the opening sections didn’t quite fully understand the final richness of the characters when they were written.  Neither, despite working to a comprehensive storyboard, was all of the fine detail of the story fully fleshed out.

Proof readers haven’t complained.  But I noticed that any comments were clustered into this area of the text.

The main delay, however, has been that I’m back to having to write part-time and have to find slots in my day where I’m not too tired, or grumpy, to concentrate as much as is needed for this somewhat onerous – yet at the same time strangely enjoyable – task.

Anyway, I’m past the 50,000 word point and corrections are becoming fewer and farther between – though I’m still finding the occasional apostrophical goof here and there!

Time for me to get back to it…

[NB1: Apostrophical: A British English, Warwickshire County, made up word meaning: the description of an author’s doomsday-like feelings when discovering that a possessive apostrophe has snuck, unbidden, to the wrong side of a pluralising ‘s’]

[NB2: Pluralising: also a made-up word… meaning: not enough time to concentrate properly on a post…]

Going Flat Out, Just To Stand Still…

I’m having a manic time at the moment.  All good, I hasten to add!  But unfortunately, my being busy is not conducive to producing frequent blog posts…

Like so many writers, I don’t really earn very much from my books and, if I’m honest, earning money is not the primary motivation for what literary work I do.  This is a good job, because the financial return per hour of effort is, let’s just say, very small.

The upshot of all of this is that I have to do other things to keep ‘bread on the table’ and that’s what’s been consuming so much of my time over the last couple of weeks…  You know how it is.  Priorities have to be set.  Hobbies and pastimes sometime have to go on the back-burner…

Hmmm… Writing this has made me think about a conundrum about book pricing that I’ve been meaning to raise on here for a little while.

The conundrum is: if I’m not financially motivated, why do I put a price on my books?  Well, I admit, I’ve wrestled with this choice on a regular basis.  However, one strange thing I noticed when making Firebird available for free, as part of some short Amazon promotions, was that it drew an audience which included some readers who then seemed to treat the work as being of less value than if it had carried an, albeit small, price tag.  Worse: readers were picking up the book because it was free, and not because they were attracted to the premise.  Strange but true…, and with some disappointingly narrow-minded consequences.

So, whilst Firebird’s free promo’s have attracted a raft of new readers, many of whom have enjoyed the story, this activity did come at a cost.  Not least, that writing must remain, at least for the time being, firmly prioritised behind my other forms of income.

Value… what a strange, amorphous, and ultimately abstract concept…!

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