The week that was: treading water

14 03 2010

Actually on time with this for once.


I’ve been really dreadful at keeping track of the news lately. I see that the UK government continues to show itself as technically illiterate lobby responding halfwits with the hacked about and totally unworkable digital rights bill. Personally I’d quite like the people legislating to actually understand the medium they are passing law on but, you know, I’m funny like that. Election fever continues to grow in the UK even though Brown looks set to leave it to the last minute to set a date and no one seems to realise the parties have no actual policies.It’s enough to keep my head down and away from the press.


It’s been interesting to watch Apple, Google and Microsoft squaring up for what feels like a new phase in their corporate celebrity death match. Bing’s new ads have started rolling out in the UK but haven’t – as far as I can see – had much impact. Meanwhile Google seem to be making in-roads on mobile but Apple have such a lead now – especially on usability – many speculate Android will have difficult moving beyond the tech sphere. What’s certain is mobile internet has now entered that high proliferation phase where browsing habits shift permanently with all the inherent new challenges that presents. It’s going to be  a fun couple of years.


I’ve been reading outside of genre (don’t gasp at the back, I read wide, sometimes). “Foe” by J.M.Coatze (award winning author don’t you know) is a riff on Robinson Crusoe and a fairly trippy, dream like novel, that I cribbed off my sister once. I enjoyed it although I think it had technical problems with the structure that occasionally took me out of the narrative. I suspect it’s best enjoyed – given the length – in one sitting.


During the week I only managed a minimum amount of words on The Scarred God (I’m working the final, final draft). However, this weekend has afforded me some free time that has enabled me to crank through another three thousand words of new material and a bit of polishing on stuff I retained. I am very near the end of the major rewrites and with in a gnat’s hair of the last line edit. I finish on March 31st – whatever. I have too many other stories to work on. The plan is to either a) submit to agents (if I think it’s commercial and good) or b) issue as either an audiobook or e-book (if I think it’s good but not commercial) or c) trunk (if it’s not upto par).

To keep me honest if I trunk it I will burn one hard copy and pass all digital files to G for safe keeping.


I appear to have injured myself. I’m not sure how but I have pulled my trap and so have been walking around like an old man most of the week hence no gym time. On the positive side I did watch my food levels and I dropped some weight. I’m hoping this week goes better.

That’s it for this week. I suspect their will be more next week simply by virtue of the fact I have actual Stuff planned and, of course, Eastercon looms.

The week that was: In which things change and stay the same

25 02 2010

Horribly late with this.


I don’t know what happened. This week (meaning last week) went with a whirlwind because of course the piece of information I alluded to in my last one of these was that I had gotten engaged. Therefore, nearly every night was spent in the process of telling various people so they found out in person rather than via the medium of this blog. Which means most of you already know this. So I’ll shut up. There was some wittering about a nice but rather uninspiring northern lass and her loutish husband but I really couldn’t care less.


Still trying to get to grips with Buzz.

Results announced in the press and to the market; it will be interesting to see what that means over the next few weeks.

Possibly the wrong sort of interesting.


Way behind here. Finished Aliette’s book Servant of the Underworld and have started a thriller set around the time of Dickens death by Matthew Pearl. Slow going on my part due to being wiped out mid week by a migraine. Boo. Hiss.


Didn’t suffer as much as the reading. I am still working on the TSG ending but am in full rewrite mode now. I think if I can clear a weekend that I will be able to finish, line edit and move onto something else by mid March. A bit later than I hoped but still respectable.


Bah. The weekend’s travels before hand, the migraine mid week and general feeling like I’d been hit by a truck meant not much happened here and I put some weight back on. However, going back to basics I have figured out a few areas that I was cutting corners on that won’t have helped. Hoping this week goes better (it is so far).

That’s it folks. Should have more interesting fare this Sunday.

The week that was: City of Light

16 02 2010

It’s that time of the week again. Been an eventful one this week.


To be honest I wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on in the world as the imminent threat of snow focussed all my attention on just what the hell I was going to do if the Eurostar shut down. I vaguely got something about some designer allegedly offing himself (very sad when anyone does it, regardless of fame) and some weird Scottish fella, increasingly few people pay attention to, employing yet another cynical media trick. Oh and Wales won. Just.


Buzz was the name of the game last week as Google demonstrated its ability to casually ignore privacy to an even greater level than most social networks. For those who missed it Google launched Buzz, a twitter/facebook hybrid that sits in your Gmail interface and was – until today – defaulted to on and accidentally made all your highest frequency contacts visible to the world. I was unsurprised that caught people’s attention but shocked and disappointed that the very dodgy terms and conditions around the Buzz i-phone app didn’t attract more attention. Perhaps it was corrected quickly but certainly initially in order to use the app you had to agree to let it use your location. This may have been only for targeted advertising but if the system is used in the way Twitter is then it could have unforeseen consequences.


Word count tailed off a bit last week. This was disappointing but I managed an end of week rally and know where I am going this week – fingers crossed. I am still working to finish off the last draft of TSG.


Mainly reading Aliette de Bodard’s debut novel Servant of the Underworld; an Aztec murder mystery with full blown magic and mayhem; Aliette’s great story telling and artfully woven research – what’s not to love?


Pretty good week here. Managed to up my cardio and finally introduce some resistance work, mainly just using my own weight for now. This is of little interest really other than to draw attention to how ridiculous I look on a cross trainer and how it was an entirely different short tubby Welshman that fell off. Honest.


Constant readers and people who know me in meatspace will know I was planning Something for last weekend. The something was a return to Paris that G was unaware of and the first time we had been back since the infamous Paris Incident that occurred shortly after this blog was started. It was a surprise for G, meant as a distraction from a rough Christmas and a means of sorting something else out that will probably spill out in the next couple of days. But not yet.

The trip was a great success: we managed to see Notre Dame, hang out in the very cool Shakespeare & Company bookshop, wander round parts of the Louvre we missed last time, see the Chinese New Year parade and ate some very good food. Best of all: I escaped pigeon attack.

So it was a pretty full on week. How was yours?

The week that was: Shit happens

8 02 2010

OK. So in an attempt to get some semblance of regular posting I have decided to introduce regular features. One of the problems of with the blog has been steadfast refusal to self filter and spawn other blogs for certain topics hence I subject many of you to numerous random posts that may not be of interest. The week that was will be a round up post noting stuff that happened in the last week to either me, the world (and thus worthy of comment) or just stuff from my notebook.

This is not an original idea.

It exists because it’s a handy way of letting people I know, who aren’t in my general vicinity, keep up to date with what I’ve been up to (one of the original purposes of the blog). It will be posted on Sunday/Monday times. Ish. Reviews will also be making a return soon.

So here goes:


The majority of my contact with the outside world last week was limited to the odd trawl of the news feeds to learn the startling fact that Clare Short doesn’t like Tony Blair much. Who knew. In other political shenanigans it seems Andrew Marr hurt Alastair Campbell’s feelings, the news being that he has them. Who knew.

The rest of what happened in the world really passed me by for reasons that will become clear.


The day job is not really a topic I dwell on here, other than the broader theme of digital. The main news last week was that mergers and acquisitions that had previously been off the table suddenly returned with a certain .com offloading one of its lesser properties for a cut down retail price. On a personal note the hours got a bit long as unrelated deadlines collided with SQL servers that refused to restart and apparently sternly telling them to Sought It Out doesn’t work.


Ah. In spite of the afore mentioned day job creep I did manage to hit more consecutive writing slots than I have done in quite some time. I only missed one slot and that was more a case of if I was capable of writing anything on four hours sleep you wouldn’t want to read it. I’ve mainly been finishing off The Scarred God rewrite, this involves substantial rewrites to Act 3 and is definitely, absolutely, positively, the last draft (not to be confused as another draft but the same draft I was working on last year). Unless someone buys it. Fingers crossed I can keep the rhythm.


I finished The Road in time to start a new book and spent the week’s commute poodling my way through Revolutionary Road. It’s kind of a black comedy about suburbia as far as I can tell but it verges in places on that kind of early 20th century American prose that just feels like it’s trying too hard. Crushingly smart observation mixed with terribly cynical analysis that – on occasion – misses the point. Interesting read though.


Urm. Yes: having one of my periodic I Will Get Fit Or Die Trying programmes. I managed a staggering four sessions at the gym and am starting to feel more relaxed there although I still find the amount of nudity on display in the changing room somewhat off putting. Hey, I’m not a prude but really there’s no need for me to see that. Especially before breakfast.

And by the time the weekend rolled round I had about enough energy to sprawl on the sofa.

Next week: Actual Stuff Happens. I hope.


1 02 2010

I left the house at 6.20 AM and returned at 7.45pm. Tomorrow I will leave at around 6am.

I’m so glad I moved to London where the streets are paved with gold. No really: that’s what gold looks and smells like these days.

Gah. At least I managed to write.


14 12 2009

I’m back, like the proverbial bad penny.

Somewhat frustratingly my Internet connection is not and so I am writing this on my handheld. It’s OK but not good for lengthy posts.

Small mercies 🙂

Anyway, when last seen I was slinking off to lick my wounds but this didn’t really help. What I finally figured out was that I had too much on and so I have spent the last fortnight trying to Lear the decks.

That pretty much means decorating, getting the house from the point where we still needed the majority of the rooms done to where only the hall does. That one we are getting a specialist in to do because it’s so high.

We’re nearly there. In fact I need to get back to it.

Pictures to follow when BT pull their finger out.

Back Monday

9 12 2009

Yes, I shall return.

Occassional tweets still happening if you can’t live without my inane chatter. *coughs* well you might not be able to…

OK, long shot. Anyway, twitter is here:


27 11 2009

Sometimes lessons can be painful.

I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking when I decided to engage in NaNoWriMo under the ballsy criteria I set myself in late October. I suspect that the growing dissatisfaction with how things had gone this year, and my realisation that my current approach has not proven effective on any level, culminated in the desire to do something huge. I didn’t really think about logistics. Project management is for techies not for creatives.

Yeah, right.

What I should have done is calculate my average word speed ( a maximum of 2k per normal working day rising to 3k at the weekend if I have nothing else on) and the average time to edit a thirty minute piece of audio (around four hours). I should then have divided that by the number of days and factored in the already scheduled Other Things I had to do in November. Roll in all the other tasks such as marketing the podcast etc. and it…well:

It was never going to work.

In many ways this is a really hard blog to write because I don’t like admitting failure and without wanting to sound melodramatic this has taken a great deal of reflection. I’m at about 25,000 words of Eleutheria and I really like the story concept and some of what I’ve written and I’m pretty sure its got legs – if done properly. However, the podcasting is extremely time consuming, I have done little to push it and so very few people have listened. In the last week I’ve found myself increasingly padding the story in order to hit word count and more often not enjoying the process. This is not why I write.

In short I am ending the experiment early.

I am very sorry to anyone who has listened to the podcast and is waiting for subsequent parts. If you contact me via the blog I will be happy to share the complete story with you at some point next year, when I finish it. In terms of the charity, I will make up the rest of the target amount as a means of reminding myself in the future about not thinking things through properly and assuaging my guilt.

What now?

I usually wait until year end to reflect but, in truth, I have become increasingly dissatisfied with where I’ve got to and think most of the blame for that rests squarely with yours truly. I’m going to be a bit quiet for a week or so while I work through some of this stuff and come up with a more systematic plan to get where I want to be. If you really want some Neil written prose, please do check out Ballista and my story Crunch. In the meantime, I hope you will bear with me.

Have fun and see you in a couple of weeks.


20 10 2009

Things sound quiet on the writing front because I am working on what I am now affectionately calling the-absolute-final-unless-someone-buys-it draft  of The Scarred God. I’m at the all too familiar middle point sag where motivation dips and self-doubt swings a low blow. I’ve been here before with this manuscript, I recognise the signs and have deployed counter measures.


I want to start something new. I’m about done with Anya’s story, this one at least and I have another, entirely different, story I want to write – one more ambitious than anything I’ve ever tried and I have a ton of reading to do before I can start it. I have a protagonist in my mind, a premise and a loose idea of the world(s). Much to my surprise it’s SF not fantasy.

Anyway, my plan was to be ready to go on Nov 1st and therefore be able to run in NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure I’m going to make that deadline now because I was supposed to finish TSG last weekend and then go into creative rest for two weeks while I read the research material. I’m behind on TSG but still making progress and I really want to finish properly. At this stage I have too much time invested to rush it and fumble the ending, again – the last act being the area that require most work as regards pacing and somewhat left field developments. I still think I’ll finish up before November but whether I’ll have enough time to recharge is anyone’s guess.

In other writing related updatery I finished a new piece of flash that read well with my test reader and so I think I may try and flog that for a change. It’s also SF.

And now: back to TSG.


16 10 2009

I have been away. I am now returned.

Thanks for all the comments on the last post and apologies for the delay in approving comments. I find myself increasingly unwilling to pay the ever inflated internet charges in international hotels and that goes in spades for 02 roaming charges for data (£3 per mb!).

Anyhow, nice to be back. Normal service resumes soon. etc.