Monday, 30 April 2007

Life' s gone a bit mad

Why is it that when one aspect of your life finds calm waters, another always finds a storm?
I have essentially three aspects to my life. There's my home life, which at the moment is just fine thank you very much. My little family unit (me, my wife and our son) have our ups and downs but on the whole, I've got very little to complain about in that department.
Then there's my online life - his one, my blog,
website and, of course, my writing. They say good writers are also good readers, but there is so much to read at the moment that I feel as if I'll never get through it all. I don't seem to have time to take part in the fishtank - I haven't even been able to respond to points in individual reviews of last story there, which I feel awful about. I did a general response, but it's not the same.
Then there's my subscribed blogs at myspace - there seems to have been hundreds of posts this past weekend. If I start at the bottom and work my way up, it'll take all bloody day. Same goes for Soulcast. And as for actually finding time to read other authors offerings - hah, you're having a larff, int ya?
Of course, the main reason for my lack of online time is the third area of my life. Work. April sees the end of our financial year, which is always hectic. Our fee earners always see fit to leave it until the last second to bill the work they have done in a mad attempt to hit their targets and earn their bonuses. These invoices come up to me in accounts for checking, processing and posting to the computer system. Normally, I'd expect 5-10 bills a day to be a lot. Friday I did over fifty - ten times my normal amount. God knows how many I'll get today and tomorrow.
On top of that we have a quarterly interest run on client's monies, bank account to be reconciled and hundreds of reports to produce. That's in addition to the conveyancing side of the business going mad as people rush to buy/sell before the government bring in HIPs later this year. (Home information packs - Don't ask). And, as usual, none of the computers work properly and so I have to rush around trying to show people how to do such difficult things as print and open documents (okay, I'm exaggerating, but I'm allowed - I'm a bloke).
This week I hope to be able to post two extracts from stories I'm working on. One will be from "Six-thirty Sleeper to Paris" and is a brand new scene from the middle of the story. The other will be an extended scene from "The Method" (formally Little Miss Movie Star) which shows a snippet of how I now plan to use the character "Kim".
I would also like to post a couple of recent photos I've taken of my garden (if I get time to upload them to Flickr) including the very fist radish of the season, fresh from the ground! And very tasty it was too.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

I've been working!

Recently, I've actually been doing some writing. Wonders will never cease! At the weekend I read through what I've written so far in my "Little Miss Movie Star" story. I'd reached a point where I didn't know if I needed or indeed wanted to include a particular scene, which is why I stalled. I could have written the scene and then deleted it in the edit, but they may have left me with a hole in the story. Instead I found a way to get across the important information that would have been in the scene, and at the same time include a smooth(ish) transition to the next important part of the story. I'm quite pleased with what I've been able to do there. Now I need to get on with it and drive the story forwards. I know where it's going, and I know how to get there, I just need some keyboard time, that's all.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I've been dissatisfied with the title to this story ever since it was conceived. I've think I've found a solution that not only sounds cool (IMHO) but could also influence me to make minor changes to one of the characters.

I'm toying with the idea of calling the story "The Method" which is a reference to "Method Acting". Most people I've spoken to regard method acting as when an actor 'becomes' the character they are playing, or where actors go and try out what it's like to live as the character. According to Wikipedia, the definition of method acting is slightly different to this, but I think I'll play on people's perceptions or, more importantly, the perceptions of the characters within my story.

What I want to do is to make the 'other woman' in the story, Kim, act as the voice of the reader in expression concerns over Chloe's motivations, in particular the belief that Chloe may be researching a part she is going to play because she is a 'method actor'.

I don't need Kim to ram these opinions down the reader's throat, but if she expresses them at two or three occasions throughout the story, it should be enough to plant a seed of doubt in the reader's mind over Chloe. Obviously, I can't tell you if Kim is right or not – it would spoil the story.

I've also picked up a story I put through the fishtank in October last year. It's been sitting on my hard drive since I amended it based on fishtank comments because I wasn't sure if I wanted to develop it into a much longer story or not. Then Chloe came along and everything else sort of got forgotten about.

I've been through the story and made a few significant changes to the characters and, importantly, to the ending and added a new scene. I now feel the whole thing is much more satisfying. I just need to go through it a couple more times, once to give it a thoroughly good edit and once more to deal with the formatting. Then I can get it subbed and see what Ruthie's make of it.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Mr Spud Head

I couldn't help it. There I was, in Cora (big French hypermarket), stocking up on cheap wine and beer when I saw this and had to buy it for my son. It has seen become his favourite toy. Don't they say the old one's are the best?

Mr. Potato Head!

Monday, 23 April 2007

Rights & Responsibilities

Yesterday I saw an interview with the leader of the opposition, David Cameron, and I have to ask the question – when did he start stealing my ideas?

For many years now, I’ve told anyone who’ll listen (which isn’t very many people, admittedly) that what is wrong with our society is a lack of individual responsibility. People hark on about their “rights” but never talk about the responsibilities that go with those rights. For example, we all have the Right to an education, but we have the responsibility to make the most of it.

Trouble is, for years now successive governments have been giving us reasons to absolve ourselves of our responsibilities. It’s always someone else’s fault. In the above example, the reason little Jonny didn’t do well in his exams is down to the teachers. But it’s not their fault, it’s down to the lack of resources, and that’s not the schools fault, it’s down to lack of funding, and that’s not the local education authorities fault, it’s central government who set funding, but it’s not their fault as they don’t have enough taxes to properly fund schools. In other words, it’s society’s fault. Not once did anyone think to say that the reason Jonny did badly is that he’s a lazy git who never did any work.

And this can be applied to everything and anything you can think of. Ultimately, people no longer take responsibility for their own actions and shortcomings, instead blaming society as a whole.

But now, Mr. Cameron is harking on about just this – he wants us to start taking individual responsibility again. I say it’s about time someone picked up on this – after all, it’s bloody well common sense. But it was still my idea, and I’m livid with him for stealing it – he should take responsibility and apologise to me on his “Web-Cameron” blog. (but I don’t think he will somehow).

Still, just goes to show – Let me run the country and we’d all be a damn sight better off.

Lost & Found - The conculsion

Head over to Ruthie's Club this week and you'll be able to read the dramatic conculsion to "Lost and Found" - again illustrated by Brett Empty.

Last weeks first two parts saw Chris Austins fly across the Atlantic to comfort his cyber-lover Beth Burnett on the eve of her little brother's funeral. This week, see the continuation and dramatic conculsion to this long distance love story. Oh, and there's a fair bit of smoking hot sex in it too.

Also at Ruthie's this week you can read the latest Nightgirl story, by one of Britains best - H.L. Berry. Nightgirl stories are always great fun and this is no exception.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Why, Why, Why...

Why have the worldwide media felt is was a good idea to broadcast that video that Cho Seung-hui sent to NBC? Have they all lost their collective minds? As a TV exec, do you have to remove your brain before you go to work in the morning?

Or is it me? Am I the only one that thinks broadcasting what this person has to say serves no purpose other than to glorify what he has done? How many similarly disturbed young people will see this video and pictures and think “Hey, I’ll get on TV if I do what he did?”

Am I the only one who thinks giving this person his fifteen minutes – even if they are posthumous, is mad? Am I the only one who thinks that it is distasteful and insensitive in the extreme to broadcast this video? How exactly do the families of those left behind feel about this – and no, that’s not a request for the media to seek them out and ask them, please, for the love of god, leave them to their private grief.

I have not seen this video, and I have no wish to. I will not be clicking on the many links on the internet that point to it, and if it is shown on the news this evening, I shall be changing the channel. Would this have been shown five years ago? Ten? Fifteen? Have we really sunk so low? The many TV execs around the world that have made the decision to show this thing ought, today, to be ashamed of themselves.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

I wish I didn't feel I had to write this

I’ve read an awful lot in the past 24 hours or so regarding the ‘debate’ about guns that is supposedly taking place following the shootings in Virginia. I’ve read news articles, blogs and message broads. And there is a common theme – those Americans who are beloved of their “right to bear arms” are shouting loudest, whilst those Americans who aren’t, are keeping quiet apart from expressing shock, horror and condolences.

At the same time, there are voices from Europe, questioning gun control in the US and a backlash against them from the pro-gun lobby essentially telling them to mind their own business.

Now, let me make this clear – I have no opinion on gun control laws in the US. I do not live there, and they do not affect me (or at least they don’t unless I visit the country). I would never presume to tell another country how to run their own affairs.

But that said, I do not, and don’t believe I ever will, understand the so called “American love affair” with firearms. I’ve heard all sorts of arguments for guns, and all sorts of arguments about how control is bad. The most common ones I’ve read are these :

1)If everyone had been armed, the shooter would not have been able to have killed so many people – he’d have been gunned down himself first. Oh, right, well, that’s okay then. But I’m sure when I was growing up that the phrase “doing it just because someone else has doesn’t make it right” or “If he jumped off a cliff, would you do the same just because he has?”

2)Criminals who want guns will still be able to get them, even with effective gun control. Yes, okay, point taken. But as I understand it, the shooter in this case wasn’t a hardened criminal and didn’t have to look very hard to find a gun for sale. He was a depressed and unstable young man who went to the nearest gun store and handed over a few bucks in cash. There are reports that the receipt was still in his rug sack. If I wanted a gun and I lived in the US, I would just walk into a gun shop. I’m sure it’s not quite as easy as that and there are forms to fill in, identities to be proven and so forth, but the point is that living in the UK, I wouldn’t have a clue where to even start looking if I wanted a gun. So even if my wife left me and I wanted to take it out on those around me, I wouldn’t have access to a gun in the first place.

3)You Brits need talk, you’ve had massacres of your own. Yes, two in twenty years that I can remember – Hungerford and Dunblane. Sure, ‘gun crime’ is increasing in some inner-cities and among certain communities, but these are the ‘criminals’ I spoke about above – not “law abiding citizens” and is no different from the situation in other major cities around the world. The last time a madman shot a load of innocent people was over ten years ago and his gun was legal and he was fully licensed to own it. Yet, as I said yesterday, it seems like we get a tragedy like this every six months or more in the US.

4)This would have happened even with strict gun controls and there is no way to stop it from happening again in the future. Let’s ignore the fact that I’d dispute this argument and assume it’s true – even so, just because ‘you can’t stop it’ doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try and make it more difficult for it to happen. I can’t stop my 15 month old son from hurting himself, but I can try and make it harder for him to get into situations where he might hurt himself – a gate on the stairs, locks on the doors and drawers, I’m having a fence built on the wall to stop him falling down the 4ft drop onto the drive next door (I live on a hill) and a gate on the driveway to stop him running into the street and in front of a car. I can teach him about how to behave safely and what things will hurt him (or try to).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I live in a country where it’s not possible to pick up a Glock 9mm from Tesco along with your loaf of bread and pint of milk, and I have no interest in or desire to tell the US how to run their country, it’s none of my business. But I resent being told that I’m wrong simply because I don’t understand why anyone would want to own a gun in the first place. I resent being told I’m not allowed an opinion because I don’t own a gun and am not allowed to even if I wanted to. I resent certain interest groups jumping up and down, shouting loudly and dismissing any view other than their own when what they should be doing is thinking about the relatives of those who have died. Political arguments aside, yesterday, 30+ families were devastated, and their lives will never be the same again. And that, like so many other premature deaths around the world each day, be they from murder, disease or accidents, is a very real, very human, tragedy.

Car Trouble

I need a new car. I currently drive a green Peugeot 306 estate, rather like the one below, with a big, turbo charged diesel engine and want something different. But I need to persuade my wife I need one first. Why do I need a new car? How many reasons do you want?

  1. It’s due a service and MOT which I’m convinced is going to cost me more than the car is worth.

  2. It uses too much petrol.

  3. It costs too much to tax.

  4. It’s ugly by modern standards.

  5. It’s just too damn big now that we’ve got the Picasso. I originally brought it because it was big – I don’t need a big car any more, it’s only for running back and forth to work.

  6. It’s got an annoying oil leak which no-one seems to be able to stop and is making a mess of the road outside my house.

  7. The electric window controls haven’t worked for a couple of years now and I’ve been quoted £300 to fix them. Thankfully, the sunroof still opens.

  8. The ‘door open’ light has started flashing constantly, so I’ve had to turn it of. If I get in the car in the dark, I can’t see anything.

  9. The central locking has started playing up. This morning it took me ages to lock the car. The doors were all unlocked but when I locked the drivers door (the remote locking key needs a new battery) it ONLY locked that door. I opened the two rear doors to lock them manually, but couldn’t lock the front passenger manually while the door was open. So I had to open the drivers door, lock the other from the inside, get out again and lock the drivers door with the key – at which point the other three unlocked again. I wasn’t happy!

  10. I just want a new one, okay?

So, what sort of car do I want? I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it, I need to bring my wife around to the idea of having a new one first, and that may take a while.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Books at Lulu

I’ve finished updating the covers for my projects at Lulu. I plan to work on my website next and then it’ll be back to working on actual new stories. I’ve put writing new stuff on the back burner recently—I think I needed a break, which is certainly what I’ve had. I have two projects awaiting my attention at the moment, and none too patiently.

I now have the following (very) short stories available at Lulu. All of these come as “SaddleStich” books, fastened together with staples, a bit like the old school text books you used to write in. They are all relatively thin books, but do have lovely artwork on the cover (well, okay artwork, well, all right, nice pictures).

Bus-Stop, Claire, Sophie, Phone Calls, Heaven in Leather,

Holodeck, Memorable Holiday,

Ice Palace Ball, Sun Sea & Shagging.

All of these stories and three others are also available in the anthology “Two Ks and No Space”,

available in Hardback, Paperback and Pocket editions.

Also available in Hardback, Paperback and Pocket editions is the novella “Reunion”.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be releasing the following at Lulu : Divine Interview (written with Cassie Exline), Scratched, Ladz Local Lovelies (2 stories), & Measuring Up. None of these have covers you can see yet, and all will be in the same “SaddleStich” format as those above. All five of these stories will also feature in the anthology “Breakfast at Ruthie’s” which will be released at the end of May in Hardback, Paperback and Pocket editions.

Not again?

It seems like we get one every year, but that makes it no less horrific or tragic. Again a once considered safe American community is in shock following a massacre in which too many people have lost their lives.

I could go on about this for some time. I could talk about how I fail to understand how a supposedly advance civilisation can still allow firearms to be so readily available. I could talk about my feelings towards the guy on British radio this morning from the pro-gun lobby who had stayed up until the early hours where he was in order to say that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and claim that had the victims been carrying their own guns they may never have become victims.

I could ask if it’s right that this madman will make the international headlines, but the other 50+ victims of gun crime in the US yesterday will go unreported everywhere but their local community. I could go on and on and on…

But I won’t. It won’t do any good. The same debate takes place after every incident. And the same people spout the same arguments both for and against guns.

Instead, all I will do is offer my heartfelt condolences to those who the victims have left behind. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. They are the ones who will have to live with what has happened long after the cameras have been packed away, the news trucks have left and the rest of the world have shrugged their shoulders and said “Oh, well, what do you expect, it’s America.” My heart goes out to them at the very same time that I hope beyond hope that I never have to experience what they are.

Best wishes and be safe,


Monday, 16 April 2007

You can catch the first two parts of my new story, Lost & Found, at Ruthie's club this week, with illustrations by Brett Empty. The final two parts will appear next week. Here's the blurb for the story :

"I need a hug." That was the last thing that Beth had typed before Chris said goodnight and logged off. But how could he hug her with the Atlantic Ocean between them? Simple, catch an airplane and surprise her.

Also at Ruthie's this week, you'll find stories by Laurence Doyen, Dee Kirk, Carmel Lockyer, A.E. Saachi, Rowan Elizabeth and Carl Hose.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Lulu (the website, not the singer)

I’ve been working on my Lulu storefront today. They have introduced an “upgraded” page which give you more control over the look and feel. It’s far from how I would want it yet – but it’s better than before. The important thing is that the content display is how I want it.

The new store front has my books/stories split into 3 groups – Anthologies, Novellas & longer short stories, and short stories.

I’ve got a few more individual stories to add, most notably the ones included in Breakfast at Ruthie’s, and I’m not really keen on the covers for the individual stories as they are standard Lulu covers (except for Reunion, which I did myself and love), so I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I’ll be happy with it.

If you take a quick look, you’ll see that three of the books – Breakfast at Ruthie’s, Two ‘K’s and no Space, and Reunion – are all available in three formats, Hardback, Paperback and Pocket. I’ve not actually seen the Hardback or Pocket editions yet (they’re on order) but I’m hoping they will be as nice looking as the paperbacks.

You’ll also notice that they are all priced in Stirling, even if you are not in the UK. This is because of how I’ve had to display the stories. Because of the erotic content, the books have to be labelled as “Mature” or Lulu may well kick them off. But as “Mature” books, you have to be logged into the site and have given yourself access to “Mature” books. I’ve got around this by displaying them via my own HTML, which links directly to the book’s page (direct links can be displayed even when your not logged in). However this has meant that I could only quote the Stirling price as the price in other currencies fluctuates with the market. The odd thing here is that if you’re not logged in, when you direct link to the book’s page, the price is in US Dollars, even if you’re in the UK, the Eurozone, or anywhere else on the planet.

I’m rambling now, aren’t I? You should stop me when I do that. I can go on for hour if you let me.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Some Photos

While I was away, I took some serious, scenic photos as well as the usual three hundred of my little boy walking about, eating, kicking a football etc. I've uploaded a few to my Flickr pages. Here's a sample (larger images available at Flickr)

Back to the Real world

I'm back from my brief break, more's the pity. Back to work and the real world. Why is it that when you go away for a nice relaxing break, after a day a work you're more stressed than when you went away?

I've come back with a list of things to do as long as the Nile and a moaning, miserable boss. Hopefully she now appreciates me a bit more having had to do my job for a while. It might only last 'til lunchtime tomorrow, but it's better than nothing.

So, what's the long list then? Most of it is work stuff that my boss didn't get a chance to cover for me – I'm playing catch up and really should be doing it instead of writing this blog. I've also got edits to do for Ruthie's, fishtank replies and reviews to do and website changes to make.

I'm also waiting on the proof of my Ruthie's anthology to come from I don't have a release date yet, but I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek at the covers.


I've got more to say, but I've also got lots of blogs to read and catch up. So much to do, I don't know what to tackle first. And besides, it's lunchtime now and I'm starving.


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