Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Work in Progress: 25th Feb 2015

Well here I am again writing a log of another weeks worth of writing and the progress I'm making in completing a publishable novel.  Yesterday i sent to my Alpha reader the first absolutely brand spanking new chapter full of words she has never read before.  There's a bit of a standing joke in the flat that not only is the hero of my novel stuck reliving the same day over-and-over again, but that my Alpha reader is re-reading the same novel over-and-over again.

Oh how the long winter nights just fly by when you're having fun.

Looking at my running total for the week I see I've written a total of 4,361 words, just shy of double the number I wrote last week, and this brings the current running total for the novel to 87,266.  I note that yesterday I wrote 1,038 words to finish the new chapter.  I might well have written more this week if I hadn't felt so ghastly on Monday, having had some problems with my pain management over the weekend.  Still I had a great weekend in Brighton and got to go with my Godson and his sister to Brighton Modelworld.

It doesn't get better than that.

Oh I forgot we also saw The LEGO Movie with the kids.  So yes it does get better than that, even if I thought the movie wasn't quite as good as it thought it was,  and did I mention we also played a game of Star Wars:X-Wing with the kids too?  Therefore we got to spend quality time with them.  So everything is awesome (warning dangerous earworm tune).

Catch you all on the bounce.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

PicoCon 32

We went to PicoCon 32 on Saturday.  I've lost count of how many I've been to over the last 32 years, but I guess about half of them.  PicoCon is a small relaxed convention that the Imperial College Science Fiction & Fantasy Society runs every year.  This year they were running the convention as a two day event, which has happened at least once before.  We only went on the Saturday, because we have other things that must be done at the weekend.  PicoCon is nice, but it's not what you'd call densely programmed convention as it only has one stream of activities, and the huckster room was three traders.

Still the ICSF manage as always to invite an interesting selection of people talking and this year they had Cory Doctorow and Frances Hardinge on Saturday.  Both were excellent speakers, and Cory is extraordinary in his ability to set positive trends in difficult times.

The next picture below is of Ian McDonald, and my friend Kari Sperring, and I was gutted to find that Keri's talk was on Sunday.  We spoke with her briefly on Saturday before she had to go and do stuff, being a guest of honour and all.

I also managed to miss the talk Life on Mars by Steve Cutts that was on Saturday, due to running late with having lunch in the Student Union bar/restaurant.

But here's a Drop Box link, which you can click on to go listen to the talks.  This is courtesy of my friend Chad Dixon who graciously gave me permission to use his pictures too.  Warning big files and you need a Drop Box account.  I hope you all enjoy listening to the talks as much as I did?

To finish off this weeks blog post, I look back over the last week and see I've written 2,648 words.

This is a lot better than the 570 words of the previous week's entry, but still not really good enough.  Trundle out excuses, and I have a few, because it was my birthday on Monday and I got distracted a couple of days before and after the event.  We even had a game of Star Wars: X-Wing, which you can even read about here, which is the gaming equivalent of crack-cocaine that even non-gamers find fun to play.

Still I remind myself that while editing is writing, it's not always about the word count when one is in editorial mode.  So, see you all on the bounce.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


Last week we sat down and rewatched the first season Defiance before getting into the second season of this show that we had ordered.  My reaction to watching the first season of the show had been a bit mixed.  It tells the story of aliens, the Votan Collective, who arrive to colonize Earth only to find us here, which is a plot point that is developed as the series progresses.  The description of Defiance as an SF show where a bunch of space elves (Castithans), goblins (Irathients),  dwarves (Liberata), cyborgs (Indogenes), beastmen (Sensoth), and orcs (Volge) fall to Earth may be a little bit unfair to the show, but I can see why people came to this conclusion. 

I enjoyed re-watching the show far more than I thought I would.  During the re-watch we both noticed a lot of little things that we had missed when watching the first time round.  I still have a problem with the male lead who leaves me cold, as I just don't understand why he has such sex appeal?

But the supporting cast are all excellent, and three women characters really stand out.

The first is Jaime Murray, who people may remember from Warehouse 13 where she played HG and the she was also in first season of Dexter, plays the alien Castithan Stahma Tarr who steals every scene she is in and absolutely acts her little cotton socks off.  The Indogene  Doc Yewll, played by Trenna Keating, also manages to stand out in every scene she's in by delivering deadpan snark with aplomb.  While Stephanie Leonidas who plays the Irathient Irisa Nolan, the adopted daughter of the hero, is very good too as the hard bitten child survivor whose parents tried to kill her.  The only slight disappointment is Julie Benz, who is well known from playing in Buffy, Angel & Dexter, who plays Amanda Rosewater.  Despite her character having an interesting story arc as the former Mayor now whorehouse madam, she is outshone by the other cast members.

In season two we are also introduce to the as yet unseen final member race of the Votan Collective, the Gulanee who are energy beings that are effectively Vorlons in encounter suits, but less angelic, more bubbly, like something out of H P Lovecraft's Cthuhlu mythos.  However, despite the fact that this show steals like crazy from other shows, and could be described as being somewhat of a mash-up between Farscape and Firefly, and despite the other issues I've mentioned, it has been an enjoyable series to have watched.  I recommend you check it out if you haven't seen it so far.

Otherwise what's been happening?

I got my editorial report back.  After the wait I'd like to say the relief was palpable, but that would be a lie.  I did have a very strong affective response to reading the report, which I had to go away and think about.  I came up with six points that have to addressed in the next draft to resolve the issues identified by the editor.  I also sat down and re-read the report and then cut & pasted sections into the notes section that Scrivener provides next to the appropriate chapters.

So this week I've only written 570 words, but I've tweaked the structure of the novel by moving a couple of scenes around and creating new chapters for them to be in, which will require me to write more description of what's happening.  My six point notes figure prominently in this restructuring.  I've also created a whole new chapter which will allow me to show why the main character does what she does when she does it. 

So that's it for another week, see you all on the bounce.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Work in Progress: 4th Feb 2015

I'm currently distracting myself, while waiting for an editorial report, by writing a non-fiction article for Miniature Wargames & Battlegames magazine.  Yesterday I rewrote the article, as in I realized that the structure wasn't working, and it was confusing to read.  In the process of restructuring the article managed to lose a couple of hundred words in the process by making a cut and paste error.  Easily done.

So looking at my diary I see I have written 2,214 words over the last week.  However, I am painting a shed load of models (a bit of an exaggeration), some of which you can see here.

There is actually more painting of miniatures than writing involved in producing this piece of work, because I need to have enough pictures for the article to make it look interesting.  There are even more on my workbench as I type this, and I've  had to order a few extras for photos that I've planned for the article too.  Not that Jon at Ground Zero Games is getting rich on the three packets of spaceships that I ordered, but it's the thought that counts.

Still all this make work has forced me to go through my piles of stuff and sort out things to get rid of, and in the process find things I've forgotten I'd bought, and now looking forward to assembling and painting.

Still it will be a relief to get back to moving the novel forward as quite frankly it's nagging at me.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ancillary Sword

This is the first book of the year that I've finished reading, which is apposite because Ancillary Justice was the first book I read last year.  While writing this I confused myself over the title of the book, which I erroneously recalled as Ancillary Mercy, but that is the title of the third book, yet to come.  As the sequel to Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword suffers by comparison, because the first book was such a breath of fresh air.  However, this is a really nice story, and by nice I mean its themes resonated with me.  I was moved by the outcome of all the machinations of the Radchaai, the AI and their Ancillaries, and the plotting by Anaander Mianaai the transhuman cyborg-clone-hive-mind ruler of the empire who is warring with herself.

So recommended without hesitation as well worth your time reading.

This weeks writing has been hampered, if that's the right way of describing the amount of time it has taken me, by the need to paint miniatures to take pictures of for the article I'm writing.  Looking back over the week I see I've only written 942 words for my article.  Still it's now running at 2,782 words, so I guess about half done.  Most of my writing time has been spent researching spaceship combat games, and "girl" are there a lot of rules on the market.

So I'm slacking off, but I have another excuse too.  My partner is off this week and we're spending some quality time together.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Another Time, Another Place

Which is my way of paraphrasing "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away," and leading into our recent re-watching of all six Star Wars films.  I still remember seeing the original black posters with the words Star Wars on railway billboards and wondering what it was all about?  Then finding out more, and being enthralled by a display in a local record shop that had devoted an entire window to the John Williams Star Wars album with the tantalizing shots from the movie on the inside of the double album sleeve.  Then watching the opening scene for the first time and I was blown away, and I remember going to see the film 21 times.  I was obsessed.

Even back then, when I was a lot younger and certainly far more naive than I am now, I knew there were plot holes in the original movie that one can fly the Death Star through, but they weren't important in the bigger scheme of things, because Star Wars was an epic tale in the traditional story telling style; as discussed in the book The Seven Basic plots by Christopher Booker, which I cunningly reviewed in my last post here.

Lucas has been quoted as saying that the inspiration behind StarWars comes from reading Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces about the existence of a mono-myth that crosses all cultures.  This book treats traditional story telling from the perspective of comparative mythology, but Campbell like Booker uses discredited Freudian & Jungian theories, which I find troubling.  Also Campbell largely disregards the feminine in favour of the masculine narrative.

But enough of discussing that academic pontification, otherwise I'll drain all the fun out of one of my favourite movies.

We sat down and watched a movie a night and I found myself enjoying the prequels as much as the originals, which was slightly surprising given my previously held feeling on them.  However, on reflection I think that back in 1999, when The Phantom Menace came out, the expectation and hype meant that the no matter how good the film was it wasn't going to meet people's expectations.  Now time has passed it no longer feels disappointing to watch.  Yes I agree Jar-Jar sucks, but he's there for much the same reason the Ewoks were in Return of the Jedi, and I'm reminded of what I say to old die-hard Dr Who fans who complain about New Who – it's not for you, it's for the youngsters who have never seen it before.

So I still like The Empire Strikes Back most of all, but without A New Hope we would never have had it, so the first is probably still the best.  Then in order of enjoyment I think Revenge of the Sith, followed by Attack of the Clones, Return of the Jedi and then The Phantom Menace.  However it has to be said that The Phantom Menace is totally lush, and the extended Pod Race and the death of Qui-Gon Jinn at the end of what was the first epic light sabre battle ever means that just because I've listed it last doesn't means it hasn't got its good points.

Now there is another... trilogy.

You bet I'm stoked about the new film coming at Xmas, which is also a long time and very far away as I write this.  For me it's a fulfillment of the original promise made my Lucas that there would be nine films; a trilogy of trilogies.  So excited that not only did we re-watch the movies, but we've been playing a great little games called Star Wars: X-Wing where you get to pilot the fighters around one's dining room table while listening to the music and quoting lines from the movies.
And of course Randall Munroe of XKCD makes a good point.