Saturdays


I’ve finally found my thread with ‘A Falling of Angels’ again, but it’s hard to settle down to work when half the house is in boxes, and the other half being sorted for disposal. My dog, Amos is fussing around my feet because all his favourite hiding places are being disrupted. Three more weeks of this to go. I’m packing books, trying to write course assignments and falling behind in just about everything else.

This isn’t me making excuses, I think. But I’m square eyed from all the screen work and need a bit of a break. It’s times like this that make me think I’ve bitten off more than I can comfortably chew. All I can do is bite down harder and let sheer bloody minded determination carry the load.

When I signed up for my courses, I didn’t actually bargain for doing them in the middle of a house move. Oh well. Headphones on for a favourite tune or two.

Posted in General musings | Tagged , , ,

Not drowning quite so much


Still struggling a little. Real life is full of drama and getting in the way of actual creative writing. House move to be organised, packing, studying, college assignments to be written, job hunting, landlord arrested (Two squad cars in the yard, neighbours scandalised). All these things happened over the last couple of days. It’s been very frustrating. Over the last week I’ve been sorely tempted to throw up my hands and shout “Oh, what is it now!” to the unforgiving air at every new interruption.

Fortunately the sun is shining and for a change I got a full nights sleep last night. Our suite is a tip, full of half filled boxes and moving impedimenta. For the next three weeks this is going to set the tenor of our existence.

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Going slightly sideways



I’ve been good. I’ve been working and writing, but what with Google and Facebook deciding they wouldn’t recognise my connection while I was in the UK, bereavement and major illness in the family, suddenly having to find a new home (Don’t ask) and not one but two courses; one with Simon Fraser University, the other with Coursera to regain my Technical Writer status, it’s all gone a bit sideways.

This isn’t to say that life hasn’t had its up moments, Angie has passed her final course with an A, but at present I feel like the guy in a Mack Sennett silent comedy who’s just been hit by contra-rotating ladders. Ergo, there’s a large element of slapstick in my life right now. All my self imposed deadlines have whooshed over me like a Scramjet on full burn. Everything is doing pratfalls with me as the fall guy.

Google and Facebook are now back up until the next time I walk down the street. There’s ten messages I haven’t had a chance to look at, and since I made my Skype details searchable two days ago I’ve had some rather rum coves asking to be added to my contacts. Which I haven’t. I just don’t have time to verify their details, so I hope no-one takes it amiss if I don’t want to talk right this minute.

As I say, my life has gone a little sideways of late and normal service will be resumed in due course. Just as soon as I whip everything back into jumping the hoops in some form of order. This may take a little time.

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Recovery mode


The past two weeks have been somewhat traumatic, and I’ve hardly written a word, what with dashing back and forth across the Atlantic. Too many errands and too much jet lag. Today, for the first time in just over two weeks I feel back in control of my life. I actually only awoke at 5:30 this morning. For the previous three nights I was waking up, despite sleeping tablets, at around two and three thirty in the morning feeling tired but unable to slip into the arms of Morpheus until four or five AM.

Everything over the past two weeks, despite best efforts, has gone sideways. It’s been a harsh emotional lesson about planning for the worst family case scenario. Some unpleasant thoughts have to be faced, but these are best examined when the immediate pressures are off. Conversations must be had with family and arrangements made. Just in case.

On the bright side, I’ve been preparing for the two courses I start in mid and late April by raiding second hand bookstores and downloading public domain material online. Now I am the proud possessor of Diana Hackers ‘A Canadian Writer’s Reference, Strunk and White’s ‘The Elements of Style‘, Prentice Hall’s ‘Handbook for Writers‘, and Harold H Kolb’s ‘A Writer’s Guide‘. Not to mention applying for Student Membership of the Society of Technical Communication. I’ve done Technical Writing for real before, for a couple of multinationals no less, but without a Degree found it nigh on impossible to convince anyone to hire me in that role, especially on this side of the Atlantic. Hopefully I will have redressed this shortfall by October or November this year with a Canadian recognised qualification from Simon Fraser University.

The down side is that I won’t be getting as much writing time in on ‘Darkness’ or ‘A falling of Angels’ as I’d like but at least I’ll have a piece of paper saying that I’m a Canadian qualified Technical Writer.

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , ,

Characters discussing morality


I’ve been playing around with a dark little idea that fills in some backstory detail for the final volume of the Stars Trilogy, which is still far short of its proposed total. The following excerpt is an attempt to throw the light of discourse onto why otherwise cultured and civilised peoples can allow, even rejoice in, terrible things done for their cause. This is a topic which has always fascinated me. See what you think.

“Why did the Gaians insist on using human grown neural cells for their Assault Cyborgs, not artificial neural nets? Why did they have to core out all those millions? Kill all those poor people?”
“Cost. Autonomous neural net manufacturing technology used to be amazingly expensive and glitchy, even as recently as ten years ago. I guess they found it cheaper to just harvest pre grown material for cores. Do the math. A thousand assault units at a hundredth of the cost of a full Biotech AI means you can afford a hundred times as many. Simple. It doesn’t matter that there’s only a twelve percent success rate. To the Gaians that was perfectly acceptable because there were plenty more dissidents where they came from.” Suresh Khan raised a philosophical jet black eyebrow at the newcomer.
“That’s sick. The mere thought makes me want to throw up.”
“Congratulations. That at least proves you’re still human.”
“Considering it was humans that thought it up, that’s not much of a compliment.”
“Not all humans, just a few.”
“That few is too many.”
“You know, it’s amazing how many think that everyone else should think as they do, and given the opportunity would murder millions to make them do so.”
“That’s just cynical rubbish!”
“Look in the mirror and ask yourself the question.”
“Crap!”
“Really? Aren’t you being a little dishonest now?”
“No.”
“The question is this. Given the opportunity to make what you think is the perfect society. Everything exactly what you want it to be, world peace, everyone living in harmony, who would you be willing to kill or have killed?”
“That’s an unfair question! People don’t have to die for a society to become perfect!”
“No it isn’t unfair. It’s actually just about the fairest question there is. There will always be those with a contrary view, and as putative leader, it is your responsibility to manage societies response. Who and how many are you willing to send to your executioners?”
“No-one!”
“Even if they pose a physical threat to your perfect society? Even if they murder and terrorise at will? I’ll ask you again. How will you kill them, and how many are you willing to kill?”
“Well there’s the people who created the Gaian murder machine. Most of them are dead anyway. There’s also the people who gave the orders for Ahmed to be blown out of the sky.”
“And?”
“The people who did the killing and everyone who approved of it.”
“Good answers. Now where would you stop?”
“I don’t know.”
“Now you know why I disapprove of killing.”
“But, but, you’ve killed more Gaian Borg and soldiers than anyone else I know.”
“Did I say I enjoyed it?”
“No, but you’re the one lecturing me on the morality of killing.”
“Have I ever even suggested killing one of our own people?”
“That’s not the same and you know it! What about him? He’s killed more people than anyone in the history of the world.” A quivering finger pointed at Richard, who briefly glanced at the accusing digit before returning to his studying.
“Now you know that this isn’t what this discussion is about. It’s about how many people are you willing to have killed to get what you want?” Suresh sighed and leaned back for a moment, arms folded. “ One death? Ten? A thousand? Ten million?”
“Now you’re being ridiculous.”
“No. It’s a perfectly valid question. How many, and where do you stop?”

Now if only I could find a way to shoehorn it into the current story. Without sounding contrived, that is.

Posted in Stars Trilogy | Tagged , , , ,

Site changes


The appearance and mapping of this site are undergoing a few changes while my head isn’t in story mode. My psyche has taken one too many shocks to the system to concentrate properly on stories of late, so I thought I’d have a tidy up of the blog. Produce some new headers to try and create a more consistent and workmanlike look than previous iterations. I’m also currently joining authors sites like crazy in order to up my commercial visibility and improved marketability; Not just Goodreads or Authors Den, but some of the others as well.

The five new header images which will appear on each page of this site are based on public domain Astronomical pictures, several of which started life as colour separation overlays and maps of Mars. I’ve played around with them to produce low to medium resolution images. There is also a new email contact form on the ‘About the Author’ page, and I hope to add my LinkedIn profile details to the sidebar as I expand my freelancing portfolio. There will also be a more professional ‘parent’ site, which will be more about our technical writing and educational business than my science fiction.

Posted in Site Maintenance | Tagged , , , , ,

Google and Facebook


Is there a better alternative to Google and Facebook? I ask because I travel periodically, and every time I do, I have to reverify my Facebook and Google accounts, which not only shifts my immediate focus away from the task in hand, but is one of those nagging ‘man from Porlock’ irritations. I’m using the same machine through various secure and insecure Wi-Fi network points, the same fairly strong passwords and access protocols, yet still having my email and access to Facebook arbitrarily cut off is less than funny. I know they’re ‘free at point of use’ services, but they do make their advertising revenue from clickthrough traffic and various other means. Yet my Facebook account and two of my Gmail accounts are now ‘locked’. They may remain that way as I can’t be bothered with the fuss of reopening them. Those who need to know will be notified of changes.

We’re currently in a bereavement crisis on the UK front, scooting between relatives and care homes, and these pernickety and unnecessary interventions to both work and essential on the fly problem solving are less than welcome. My LinkedIn account is globally accessible, as is WordPress and several others, no problem, so why not Google or Facebook? We have an alternative paid for domain with available mail aliases and server, and I’m inclined to build a web site there and activate the email accounts. It means the small expense of changing business stationery, but we can handle that.

Over dinner last night, my eldest stepdaughter was talking about building a service similar to LinkedIn for younger professionals. I’m inclined to buy a new domain name and some extra web space for her to play with. Give her the wheel and see what she can do. It’s just a question of time and effort. Facebook and Gmail are all very well, but I’m thinking that they’ve had their day.

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