Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Nothing is as fixed as I thought it was

I thought I was quite flexible when it came to converting my plotted outlines into a WIP. In the process of writing it, the details of the tale unfolded, and I could adjust the story accordingly, ending up with a fairly tight story. It turns out that I'm not as flexible as I thought. I seemed to have been of the mindset that the major points in the story lead on to the next major point in a chain of events, and that they were all unchangeable. The story would fall apart if I tried to tinker with them. The realisation that I can move the final conflict's location, and increase the tension in the process, has caught me completely by surprise. My head is buzzing with excitement at the new and improved ending, and I can't get it written fast enough! I'm now thinking that I need to review the other 'fixed' points and see if they can be tweaked. And that is a very weird feeling. The knowledge that I'm not as close as I originally thought I was in getting my MS out to Crit partners is a little bit disappointing, but the renewed excitement I'm feeling for the story is more than compensating for it. Is it just me who sometimes he's better than he really is?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

My new 'friends' - Paula and Lance

When I received my acceptance letter for this years London Marathon, the first thing I did was run out (no pun intended) ((Well, maybe just a little bit)) and buy a Nike Plus.  It's a little unit that fits in your running shoes and syncs with your iPod.  It records your run, and then when you connect it to your pc, it uploads a record of your run onto your personal space on the Nike Plus site.  This allows you to track your improvement, pace, etc.
The cool thing is that it talks to you while you're jogging along.  It gives regular distance updates, and then counts down the last 400 meters.  The really cool thing is that if you do a personal best, at the end of the run a top sports person tells pops into your ears and congratulates you.  So far, Lance Armstrong has mostly been visiting, and Paula Radcliffe stuck her head round the corner once.
The down side to getting little accolades from Lance and Paula is that when the training isn't going so well, they are very conspicuous by their absence.  It's like they are whispering behind your back, saying "Look at Iain.  What a slowcoach, I don't want to be associated with him."  Fair weather friends - Who needs them?

All this monitoring stuff made me think.  Wouldn't it be great if you could get a Nike Plus for Authors.  You set a target of a thousand words, and it tells you how far you've got, counts down the last twenty words, and allows you to see a graphic representation of what your writing pace was, and when you've done a personal best, J.K. Rowling, or Stephen King pops up and congratulates you for doing so well.
Then again, maybe not.  Let's face it, when I'm writing, it just pours out.  It's more of a case of how much time I have available to write in rather than word count.  And if I'm honest, the Revision Group that sprang up from the RevMo last November are far more motivating than getting platitudes from someone that I've never had any interaction with.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Round Three Revisions update

At the end of last week, I (kind of) finished my 3rd round of edits on Odd Squad.  I say 'kind of', because I'm probably going to change the end slightly.  I think that the arc dip when they realise that that they haven't defeated the bad guys and saved the day, needs to be extended.  I've mapped the new piece out, I just need to start writing it.
The thing that's stopping me from diving in head first, is that I suddenly feel that my writing isn't strong enough.  The story is at the shorter end of the acceptable length that a YA book should be, and I have a problem seeing how I can make it longer (other than putting in stuff that doesn’t drive the plot forwards).  At the same time, thouh, it feels that there is something missing.  Maybe I'm confusing developing the characters and their relationships with unnecessary padding.
Maybe I should just bite the bullet and give the MS to a couple of Crit partners and see if they feel the same.

The really odd thing is, that in typing this, I think I've managed to work out what is wrong, and what I need to do.  Thanks for listening, and pulling the sympathetic faces at the right moments.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

History Lesson?

It's just occurred to me that they probably have sniffer engines connected to Google that look for combinations of keywords, and when they find a match, the searcher ends up on a watch list or something.
In the course of researching my two books, I have looked up some dubious things.  Off the top of my head, I can recall that I have Google mapped Faslane Naval Base (where the UK's nuclear subs are docked), tried to establish where the nuclear missiles are re-conditioned, enquired about killer satellites, and researched satellite earth stations and the surrounding areas.  I'm sure there's more that I've forgotten about that should be added to the list.
Maybe I should start doing my research on public wi-fi from now on.

Interestingly, there are two men in trench coats and dark glasses coming this way.  I wonder what they want...

Friday, 6 January 2012

Awesome Presents

I'm usually quite reserved when it comes to describing thing as amazing, or fantastic, or awesome, as I feel that if I over use the word, it becomes the norm, and loses it’s impact.
With this in mind, I have to say that there are two writing presents that I received at Christmas, that I feel compelled to describe as AWESOME!
The first is a digital pen from my wife.  For those of you who haven't encountered these, they consist of a pen, and a small receiver that you clip to the top of your pad.  Then you write!  When you are done, you connect the receiver to your pc, and upload the file that it's created, and… taadaaa! Your handwriting or drawing is displayed on the screen, ready for you.  Now comes the really cool bit.  You can now convert the handwriting into typed text.  I know!  It blew me away when I first did this.  It will make note taking, or scribbling out new bits for my WIP so much easier now that I don't have to type them up later.  And, at 3:30 in the morning, any notes of inspiration that I make can be uploaded in the morning!

The second item that I'm well chuffed about is a notebook that my daughter got me from

It's just a lined notepad, but the cover is just wicked!

Did you guys get anything that you just have to jump up and down and tell people about?

Thursday, 5 January 2012


I've finally narrowed down my New Years resolutions/Goals.  They're not world shattering, but hopefully they will give me some focus over the first part of the year.

1) Finish current round of revisions of Odd Squad: Now you see me... and review to see if it can be sent to Critters, or whether it needs a new round of revision

2) Once revisions of Odd Squad: NYSM have allowed me to polish it to the best I can get it, start sending out to agents. (Majority of the agents in the UK still want printed copies sent via snail mail, which appears to be different to the process in the States.)

3) Finish drafting Odd Squad: Rain of Fire.
4) Complete the London Marathon in April in less than 4 hours.

5) Take my new notepad with me everywhere I go.

6) Talk to anyone and everyone, and generally be a more open person.

7)  Decide whether I should throw my hat in the ring (at the end of January) when they are looking for volunteers to write the next Pantomime for my Drama Group.

And that's about it.  So, what have you guys set yourselves?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Still positive

This new positive thinking lark is going quite well.
In a conversation today, I mentioned that 'Every cloud has a silver lining.'
On reflection, I then realised that where I live, the sliver lining had probably been stolen and sold as scrap metal.  Then, on further reflection, I realised that this would create job opportunities for silver lining makers, and silver lining fitters.  Thus proving to myself that even negative things can have a positive spin.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Back from the Back of Beyond!

Think of the most remote, distant place you can possibly imagine.  Can you see it? Good.  Now drive a further half a mile down the road, and that is where we stayed for the New Year.
The whole of my wife's side of the family descended on a clump of small cottages in Sticksville (ok, it wasn't really called Sticksville, but it does sum up the isolated nature of the village) for my Brother-In-law's 40th birthday on new years eve.
It was an incredibly manic time, with an excessive amount of laughter, and I have come away from there with a renewed insight on life and the way forward.
If ever I'm asked to describe myself, I usually come up with something along the lines of being an optimistic optimist.  That I believe that everything will always work out right, no matter how bleak things may look.  I also like to think that I'm a lucky, and that always see the positive in things. (no body ever actually asks me this, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared.)
Over the last couple of years, I have to admit, I haven't fitted that description.  There's been dark clouds on the horizon, and I've tended to look towards the negative side of things, and not taken opportunities that have come my way.
Usually at this time of year, my only resolution is not to make one.  This year, however, I did some navel gazing, and realised just how lucky I am, and that the good things in my life far outweigh the not so good.  I've realised that I have an incredible family, and that I'm lucky that my kids who are in their late teens, still choose to hang out with me.  I have learnt a tremendous amount about the art of crafting a piece of work to get it near ( or hopefully up to) a publishable state.  I've also found a whole new bunch of writing friends who rock and offer the most amazing support and inspiration at a level I never dreamt was possible.  Like I said, the pluses greatly swamp the minuses.
With these thoughts in mind, I'm going to break with my tradition of traditionally not making resolutions, and I'm working on a set for this year.  When I've reached a handful that I'm pleased with, I'll let you know.
I hope you all have a prosperous and exciting New Year.