Category Archives: Observations

General observations about people, places, life, the Universe and many things

Publishing and distribution headaches #SelfPublishing


I’ve been following a highly contentious thread on LinkedIn for the past few days. One which posed the question; “Is self publishing such an evil?” If you were to read the views on some of the contributors, the answer was a simple no. The alternative views were being expressed in a manner so poisonous and ill informed that I had to stop reading. Broad brushstroke comments condemning all self published works as poorly spelt and formatted for example. Which I thought was unfair. Publishers used to send out lists of ‘errata’ after first editions had been printed, highlighting errors which would be corrected in later editions. Nowadays they get sent to the ‘remaindered’ book store or pulped. So the Nyer ner ne nyer ner type comments to the effect that “You self publish, therefore everything you say and do is crap”. don’t really stand up to close examination. Those are the kind of comments written by people who ‘correct’ library books. Small minded and cheap. We all make mistakes and it should be the story not counts. Not minor spelling and grammatical errors from which mainstream publishers are not immune. Build yourself a bridge and get over it for crying out loud.

Although I’m told that a traditional publishing deal is no longer (and perhaps never was) the easy route. It means you still have to market your own books. The funding mainstream publishing companies used to pay to market an authors work, and the access to the big book distributors is often no longer so readily available to the first timer. From observation I’d go so far as to say the age of the big publishers advance is mostly (Except for a few key instances) history. When all’s said and done this is no surprise; publishers take a financial risk every time they put a book out in the marketplace, and if it all falls over massively they’re history. Their game, their rules. Although I’m moved to observe that since they are not immune from the laws of cockup, slagging off self publishers is not a wonderful business strategy. A lot of writers are avid readers too.

The big self publishing problem is not, as some would contend merely in the spelling or grammar of a particular work, it’s actually in the distribution; getting a book, or more easily an eBook listed. Even then the market is fragmented, and while Smashwords and Lulu.com can get you listed across most distribution platforms, there are some quite large marketplaces, like the growing Kobo eReader which require independents and small scale publishers to go through Kobo’s ‘writinglife’ process. Which, if you’ve already got an edition you’ve spent time getting listed on Amazon, iBookstore and Barnes and Noble, feels like having to do the same job twice. It’s enough to give you migraines. Never mind the promotion, marketing and all the other things a writer has to do to get their work out and noticed in a crowded marketplace.

There is still, at the moment of writing, no single low cost route which will transmit from keyboard to bookshelf over the broadest range of popular platforms. Lulu, Smashwords and Kobo are all good, but none of these provides a single, end to end process for an author to get their work out into the broadest of public domains. Never mind the holy grail of going from those points of publishing entry into the big book distributors lists. This issue is proving a major headache, but one that is not incurable. It’s had me contemplating creating my own on line publishing and distribution company, just to see if I can fix it.

Still scratching along with ‘A falling of Angels’. A sentence here, a word there. Progress is slow, but sure. I’d get a life, but what with the job and publishing issues, on top of looking at boats, new cameras, and the odd bit of extra technology Angie wants installed, trying to squeeze a third one in might prove one too many.

Blog customisation


While editing and proofing the last few days output, I took a break to clear out the blogs Askimet comments spam box, and in among the attempted SEO spamming, Ads for Chinese prostitutes (Go figure), incomprehensible malware links, and one string of obscenities (Why? What was the point of that? Apart from a classic demonstration of the posters sub literacy.) I found one sensible comment about the look of the blog so I approved it. ‘Space it out better’ I think was the request. It’s here, go look for yourself.

Now I’ve looked at changing the blogs appearance before, and quite frankly this is one of those “Could you be a bit more specific” moments. This blog isn’t perfect, because when all’s said and done it is what it is. I could spend thousands of dollars and it would still be imperfect in the eyes of any given beholder. Why? Because we’re all different and hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see.

It’s all part of the human experience. Still wouldn’t get me any more traffic, because while the end result of any given story may well be dramatic, sexy, violent and all that jazz, the process of writing is only exciting to the actual writer. A person with their head down, emptying the contents of their head into a word processor isn’t dramatic to watch, is very unsexy, and about as non-violent a pursuit as it comes. Dull, dullness without anything to relieve the watchers’ tedium. Short of giving away every story development, quirk of character or plot twist. Just dust the cobwebs off me as you pass. The lights are palpably on, someone’s definitely home, but you can bang as hard as you like on the door because we’re not taking visitors today. Ignore the dog barking. Just make an appointment for next week please. I’m having far too much fun writing about refugee camp cannibal gangs, blackmailers and genetic manipulation. Not forgetting the DarkNet (The Internet’s ‘evil’ twin) and similarly linked themes.

Anyway, the blog isn’t a priority. What with various narratives and shift work, it tends to take a back seat. I just don’t have time (or the graphic talent) to fuss with it. For the moment I’m going with the cheap ‘n cheerful free WordPress template I’ve selected. Unless anyone else has a sensible suggestion. Otherwise I’ll be back here on Wednesday evening, maybe even Friday. TTFN.

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? #WritersLife


Picked up poet Mary Oliver‘s question via LinkedIn this morning, and it very much resonates with what’s going on in my life at the moment. Well, not just mine but Angie’s as well. We’ve been pottering around looking at lots to build a house on, and finding that everything eventually devolves to suburbia. The whole work-eat-sleep-mortgage thing, which we’ve already done. So why on earth are we planning to anchor ourselves down to a plot of land for the rest of our useful lives? Nail ourselves to one location? Chain our souls to real estate? Go down the suburban road once more? Do the networking thing? Cultivate contacts to further our ‘careers’? Sell our souls to the machine again? We’re both over fifty and pretty active, I don’t see the point.

Would we do it for Laura and Jo? Not really, they’re all grown up and making their own lives half way around the world. As for me, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, if there were a club especially for people like me, I wouldn’t let me in. I’m not a social animal. The Bear is my totem.

So after drifting around plots and lots with various enchanting views, we ended up in the Genoa Bay Marina Espresso Bar down past Duncan. Down at the end of one floating jetty was a 60′ Gin Palace, registered in Edmonton, Alberta of all places. A gleaming monstrosity of fibreglass and stainless steel. Very palatial. A million bucks worth straight out of the yards. Beautiful lines. It looked fast and graceful, even just moored at the floating dock gathering algae next to all the houseboats.

All of a sudden, Angie gets all upset, which bothered me as it was a gorgeous day and we hadn’t a care, apart from looking at various interminable building sites. She confessed to me that this whole looking for houses process was making her unhappy, and she didn’t want to do it any more. She expressed a wish to live on a boat and cruise the coast and gulf islands for the next ten or twenty years. So as we wound through endless Canadian suburbia, we talked it over. I expressed surprise as Angie tends to suffer from motion sickness, and her on a boat? To be honest I never even thought about it as a life option. She said no, she was willing to give it a try. Life on the water. We joked about her having a ‘mid-life crisis’, well why not? Without crisis and adventure, life is dull, dull, mind strangling routine. The morass of souls, the slough of despond, a round of endless quiet desperation.

I reflected that some of my early years were spent playing around on British canals on cabin cruisers. This brought up memories like being at the wheel of a fishing boat following a gyrocompass bearing back into Looe after a days deep sea fishing out near Eddystone. Force four south westerly freshening to six. Dirty green sea under grey skies, bucking the restless horse of a Lochin 38 Hulled fishing boat at fourteen knots. Five foot swells slamming at the bows. Slewed at twenty degrees from the line of travel in the cross wind.

I have my BC pleasure craft license, know the basics about R/T drills and have a modest understanding of basic seamanship. Angie is a quick learner, and both sides of the family have more than a little salt water in their veins, so why not? We don’t really ‘belong’ anywhere, and would only be stifled by life in one place, regardless of how nice the views or people are.

The sheer chutzpah appeals. The thought of Island hopping, following the weather around the world while working online has a certain appeal. Phoning the kids from Southampton or some other locale. “Hi love, fancy a weekend off?” Hire cars when need arises, not buy them. Move our money around the globe, spread the risk, take a chance. I have more than a couple of ideas about that. Yes, so we’re having a radical rethink about how we live our lives, and today we are going to talk to boat brokers.

Leaving well enough alone. #BlogOff


This morning I was over at Guido Fawkes via Pat Nurse and came across this little campaign for a free and unregulated blogosphere. In the opposing corner, there are a bunch of over-hyped luvvies lobbying for regulation and censorship. So long as it isn’t their views being censored of course. Privacy, and the right of voicing opinion is something only they can have, and not for the hoi polloi. So long as it is an opinion they agree with, by their own slippery and shifting standards. These are the people laying foundations for the dystopias I write about. The “Do as I say – not as I do.” pundits. The people who wear their hypocrisies like a second skin, so much so that perhaps they may not realise what they are doing. Or perhaps they do. I can only guess.

Censorship stifles the voices of the many and puts too much power into the hands of a self-selected few. It disenfranchises and opens the way for gross evils that have dumped their ugly ink splodges on the narrative of history. Indeed, history is all the poorer for this. Like the angry Roman Soldier who murdered Archimedes in Syracuse, a voice stifled because “You can’t say that” is a conversation stillborn. Information lost until another mind dares to walk an untrodden path. Culturally, suppression impoverishes. Spam filters notwithstanding.

Free speech may mean the tinfoil hat brigade are let loose, barging into civilised discourse like an infinite number of hypothetical Bulls in an infinite number of Porcelain emporia, spraying virtual spittle on all and sundry, but for all that, they’re mostly harmless. Pat them on the head, smile politely and move on. Conversation is like mining, you have to shift a lot of overburden to get to the real ore. Process tons of Pitchblende to extract an ounce of Radium. So it is with communication. Stifling it serves no purpose apart from protecting the thin skinned and pompous. The least harm would be done if they left well enough alone. Not that my opinion counts, I’m just another voice in the crowd trying to make sense of it all.

For my own part I’ve been busy of late, breaking all my own rules about creative writing; haven’t penned a word in weeks. Mainly because domesticity has been raising its ever present head and saying things like “What about doing your taxes?”, “What about getting a new job?”, “What about buying a plot of land and building?”, “What about booking our trip to England this year?” and “You’re spending too much time researching – it’s time we went out.” What with a shifting shift pattern and everything else, I’ve dried up completely.

Life, the Universe and being opinionated. #WritersLife


Five am in the morning, and sleep is a stranger. There are thoughts buzzing around in my head, and respite will not come until I let them out. An overnight flight has ghost howled overhead. Amos, my dog, lies softly snoring at my blanket coddled feet. A diffuse reflected phantasm of Vancouvers city lights illuminates the Eastern night sky, giving the water between the islands a pale, glossy feel.

Of course that’s how I feel about it, and you have only my opinion for that. However, that’s what is going round and round in my head at the moment, keeping pleasant repose at arms length. Like a maddening earworm of a silly pop tune, it won’t leave me be. Think of this as an exorcism of sorts.

There’s an ironic old adage which goes “I know the truth – but you’re just opinionated.” Yet isn’t having opinions on subjects what makes us human? There is even mental elbow room to say that opinion underpins everything we are and do. Here’s the bare bones dictionary definition;

o·pin·ion

Noun

1. A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

2. The beliefs or views of a large number or majority of people about a particular thing.

Synonyms
view – judgement – judgment – mind – notion – idea

Back when I was but a callow youth, or as Hamlet put it; ‘in my salad days, When I was green in judgment’ I found myself thinking this particular thought. Because it is subjective, the truth can only ever be a matter of opinion. Which is true. For a given value of ‘truth’ that is. There is no absolute value. Because human knowledge is limited, we don’t have all the definitive answers. As that knowledge expands, as we find out more about the universe and our place in it, we plug the gaping abyss of fact with huge wodges of opinion as a kind of stop gap. Or Quantum or String theory. Whatever. Until the next big proof comes around.

For example, there are those who contend a given ‘holy’ book contains the ‘truth’. It’s their opinion. Others insist that Darwins theory of evolution makes all the religious schtick unnecessary. Again, that is another opinion. Bloody wars have been fought, and terrible slaughter made over opinions like these. Millions slaughtered by repressive regimes all because they hold a differing opinion. Which is, if you give it enough thought, a bloody silly way of getting people to change their minds. The threat of violence only suppresses opinions. It cannot change how people think and feel. By way of illustration I was watching a documentary on YouTube last night about Russian aviation development in the mid 20th century, and heard about all the Technicians arrested and executed during the Stalinist era. ‘What a waste of talent’ was the thought that passed through my mind. However, Stalin was obviously of another opinion.

People used to think that Phlogiston was a thing, rather than what we now understand as the process of combustion. All scientific theory is opinion until a body of fact can be garnered to back it up. Theories. being mere matters of opinion, can be overthrown. Science is never settled. Like a river, it is a continual process rather than an absolute. Prevent or suppress the flow of ideas and the river dries up, as do its benefits.

Judges, when passing sentence or judgement are expressing an opinion based on their interpretation of case and accepted law. Politicians express opinions from which those very laws are formed. They in turn are driven by public opinion (Or some would say increasingly focus groups and special advisors). Dependent of course on whether public opinion is in keeping with their own.

The Internet is the great sounding board of our age allowing all to have their say. Yet what most of it drives home one inescapable conclusion; it’s only opinions. Yet how great a part those opinions play. In my opinion, that is.

More thoughts on constructing Timelines #WritersBlock


Have been working on events timelines as a tool to make sure I don’t lose the thread of a story. This helps when constructing multiple character story lines to knit together at or around the denouement. Coupled with research on carbonaceous chondrite, and a few other associated topics made interesting by recent events, this has ground the writing process to an almost complete halt, or should I say hiatus.

The timelines are helping though. They are the anchors of stories and a ready reference for the Cerberus series, and the final volume of the Stars series, which had somewhat lost its narrative thread in the last nine months. Now with the assistance of formalising my timelines, I have a far clearer idea of where individual story threads have to go in order to reach the desired conclusion.

In addition I’ve been trying to get out a little more, in between work – eat – sleep – write, but the only sci-fi meetups seem to be over in Vancouver, which means two lost working days if I decide to go, ferry timetables and public transport being what they are. Living on Vancouver Island is fine, I love the space, but occasionally find it a little isolating.

My last visit to a Vancouver writers event with neighbour Kenn didn’t go anywhere much, as it was more of a ‘literary’ event. Several people I spoke to weren’t much interested in Science Fiction; indeed I seemed to hear a lot of “I don’t like Star Trek.” or “I don’t like Star Wars.” from what I’ll call the ‘anti’ faction of literati. Which seemed to act for them as a blanket dismissal for the genre. Okay, but that’s rather like saying you don’t like Fantasy, but have never read Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher, or Christopher Stasheff; or because you find the Bronte’s and Jane Austen shirt wettingly dull (“Oh Mr D’Arcy – I am undone”), but never read Defoe, Hardy, or any of the other great 18th & 19th Century novelists. Maybe because someone doesn’t like the idea of ploughing through Plato’s ‘Republic’ they end up ignoring the whole corpus of early Greek literature, never mind entertaining Roman poets / satirists like Juvenal. Which has made me less than enthusiastic about spending time on such events.

On the subject of long distance travel, plans this year are still a little fragmented, but Angie and I are definitely going to visit England and possibly Southern Ireland. There is family to see, discussions to be held, decisions to be made. June looks like the most likely month.

After that, who knows? I have no Timeline for that, although a trip to the Okanagan to pick up some cases of decent wine is definitely in the early planning stages. Canadian wines are definitely worth a look. After much tasting on a trip last year, we found a rather nice non-vintage Pinot Blanc, and found several vineyards producing quite quaffable Gamay and Pinot Noir based reds. This might come as a surprise to the rest of the world, but not all Canada is the ‘Great white north’.

The importance of constructing timelines #WritersBlock


It’s often been said that the difference between fact and fiction, a line that can get increasingly blurred the more you read various accounts of events, is that fiction has to make sense. It has to have structure, logical consistency, whereas reality so often doesn’t. As I’m building up a body of futuristic work, it’s dawning on me that I need more than my usual conical collation of scribbled notes as a reference. I need a formal timeline to refer to, to ensure that logical sequences are adhered to.

To this end, I’ve been building up a series of linked spreadsheets as a reference database. These contain a series of seminal events for each of the Cerberus and Stars series. The premise being if you know where a story is going to, it makes the writing easier. Forming a reference to go back to for each novel in a series. In effect creating my own fictional galaxy. Mainly as a tool for me to refer to, like the compilation of space combat tactics I’ve been putting together, called the ‘Windsor Doctrine’. It’s only a few pages long at present, and I’ve had no time to do any artwork, but there’s potential there as a companion volume.

As I’ve been turning out ‘product’ over the past ten years or so, it occurs to me that the more modern reader needs much more than just a simple narrative. There is a faction that want detail, the more visual element. Not just the book, but the movie, the Manga comic, Anime, and more western animated series, not to mention action figurines. In the fullness of time, my rough timelines may just become that, forming part of a larger, themed body of work. However, for the moment they will remain a tool to circumvent any writers block.

A reply to popping the Kobo question #SelfPublishing #BookMarketing


While I was Hors de combat recently, those nice people at Kobo sent me an answer to my query regarding Kobo eReaders as a distribution platform for the Cerberus eBook series. The best word for their response has to be ‘comprehensive’. I’m still working my way through the ramifications.

Essentially, since I own all the rights to the work, I can create special editions so long as they are marked with a separate ISBN via Kobo, or whoever’s existing publication platform. This seems to indicate I’ll have to go through Kobo’s own self publishing programme, as I can’t afford the prices they’re asking for commercial ePub conversion and Metadata services. Not sure about Amazon and the Kindle, although this may prove to be a similar situation. Last time I checked, I was led to the conclusion that the Kindle agreement required exclusivity to a given title, although at the moment I’m not sure.

This merits further investigation, and since my brain is only slowly returning to full function, I will be taking my time about it.

On the plus side, I’ve found a local proof reader for a reasonable price.

Norovirus; an unpleasant experience #norovirus


Half past ten. Think I’ve contracted a bout of the Norovirus bug that’s going around. Have just spent an intensely unpleasant three hours trying not to trip over the dog during repeated dashes to the bathroom.

Had been feeling mildly nauseous and vaguely out of sorts since about eight. The diarrhea kicked in about half past eight without any fever or noticeable aches and pains. Projectile (First time since I was about seventeen and very, very drunk indeed) vomiting began after the main bout of diarrhea came to a halt; following a mild case of stomach cramps like there was an elastic band around my stomach. Bout of vomiting came to an end with a sudden hot flush which passed within ten or fifteen minutes. Slightly gassy stomach in the aftermath. Pulse is thundering a little, but nothing dangerous, less than 110 and decreasing. Cramps have settled into the sensation of having a tightly knotted rope digging into my midriff.

Outlook is windy with occasional downpours.

Fortunately Angie and I have a bathroom each, which is just as well because mine now stinks despite air freshener, a shower, and a scrub down with disinfectant. Have taken the precaution of leaving a book and my reading glasses in there, because I have the feeling this is going to be a very long night.

Update: Six thirty am. Bad night with little sleep and multiple episodes. Angie has it too, so that’s both of us out of action.

What do you write when you can’t think of anything? #Writing


This is a question every aspiring writer asks, and unfortunately there’s no one good answer that suits everyone. There are all sorts of approaches from the staring at a blank sheet of paper to going out for a long walk, building a log cabin (Worked for Theroux) shopping, cooking, driving, running, jumping, swimming, fishing, bungee jumping, play games, arranging socks or some other displacement activity. Getting slobbering shitfaced drunk also seems to be a perennial favourite.

For myself, first move is to ‘head dump’. That is basically emptying out the garbage can of ideas into note form, and seeing if there’s anything that fits in with one of the projects I’m currently fiddling with. Sometime it works, sometimes there’s simply nothing worth recycling. If that doesn’t work, I’ll do some practical task like cooking which makes my hands and forebrain busy while the clever stuff goes on in my subconscious. There are times when simply overthinking a story builds up a massive logjam of worthless ideas choking the river of narrative. That’s when I get ruthless. I re read what I’ve already written, and junk anything that either doesn’t work, or detracts from the story I want to tell. Sometimes I’ll play games like killing off a character, just to see if that frees up a plot line. Anything to stir the sea of words into a storm to see if anything interesting gets washed up onto the beach from the deep subconscious.

Occasionally I’ll end up going off on a tangent, but mostly it seems to work.

Why I suck at Social Media


When it comes to the social media like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and all that malarkey, generally speaking I suck at it. Big time. Yet all the time we’re told that it’s the one way to circumvent the thorn thicket of Agents, Publishers, Distributors and Book Vendors to get your work out to the reading public.

Why writers like me generally fail at translation from manuscript to media is quite simple; we’re (mostly) the wrong type of personality. I’m not a social animal. I hide away in my little cave, scribbling away until I think I have a decent result; then emerge when I’m done to find everyone else is more interested in hairdressers gossip. This should come as no surprise, because Social Media is like junk food, fast, cheap, quick and cheerful. Like hasty sex, it fills the immediate hunger but rarely sates the true appetite. In this respect, Facebook and Twitter are like advertising, a kind of electronic word of mouth. The browser is invited to prod, poke, contact, comment and react on a purely superficial level, but rarely to go deep. Writers, at least the ones I know, don’t do this kind of superficial. Most are private, introspective individuals who don’t come out to play all that often. Such is my experience. There are notable exceptions, but those exceptions are only seen when they’re not actually in obsessive-compulsive writing mode.

To be honest, the Social Media thing terrifies me. Why? Any number of reasons, but I’ll stick with two. First because I think it’s a distraction. Second because while I can happily deal with being ignored, there is such a thing as unwelcome attention. Especially when you’re trying to concentrate.

Home and Curry


Angie is home, now kitted out with a new hip joint and currently up to the gills with painkillers. She’s tucked up nice and cosy in bed. There’s a roaring fire in the stove, and the house feels like a home once more. Overall I’m feeling a whole lot more relaxed.

To celebrate her return I made one of my home made curries with home baked Naan bread. Being a bit lazy with the curry I simply chopped up a pound of cardboard chicken (Skinless, boneless, flavourless – I don’t like it, but Angie does), used up my last jar of Sharwoods and chucked in half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes, which gave it sufficient heat. Basmati rice was also prepared (1 half cup Basmati rice, one and a quarter cups of cold water, bring to boil until almost all water is gone, then take off heat and stick a cloth over the pan for the rest of the water to evaporate). Mango Chutney, check. The Naan bread took a little experimentation, as my oven only goes up to 500 Fahrenheit, and leaving the yoghurt out of the recipe might have been a mistake as the texture was a little stiff. However, we live and learn. It was close enough for government work, as the saying goes. After her bout with vomiting due to a painkiller reaction, the Curry went and stayed down. For this small mercy I am truly grateful.

With regard to opiates, I remember a compound called Prochlorperazine (Proprietary name Stemetil) which is useful when administering opiates as it reduces the nausea. Working on what would nowadays be called an Oncological ward for a few weeks, palliative patients often had a mixed dose of Stemetil with their Diamorphine to cut down the drug dreams and vomiting whilst reducing cancer pain. When Angie was having her first bout of vomiting I asked the nurse if Stemetil was still in use, and was told it was restricted to palliative care. Or as I recall a senior nursing officer say in the 1980’s; “They’re dying anyway, so it really doesn’t matter if they (The patients) become junkies.” Which is a refreshingly pragmatic view of the world.

What with all associated shenanigans, running errands to drug stores, keeping friends and family informed, and general caring for my wife while she is indisposed, all writing on major projects has ground to a halt. Apart from the blog. This is only a temporary state of affairs, and as soon as Angie is well on the mend and fully self care capable, I will be torturing the English language with my facinorous prose. As usual.

Struggling a little.


It’s raining yet again. Angie is in hospital, and I’m trying not to think about it. South of the border there are elections which will have a spin off effect economically up here in BC. All of this is eclipsed in my mind by the latest development regarding the nature of light. Is a photon a particle or a wave? Or even a wave function that mimics a particle? Or both?

Writing about phenomena that rely on the nature of the underlying universe is a struggle sometimes. No sooner have you penned an elegant piece about how this can be seen to be a function of that, down where the quarks come out to play, than some clever type comes up with a theory that shoots your whole premise down in flames. So back to the drawing board. The good news is that so far my stories have held up against new developments in physics and astronomy. Planets have been found around stars a reasonable educated guess might have surmised. The nature of the universe, and the standard model of physics seems to be holding its ground, so no issues there.

Now I would like it to stop raining, please. Even the ducks are taking cover.

New desk


I’ve inherited a desk. One of those large multilayered steel, glass and dark wood confections with various shelves, presumably meant to be an office in its own right. It’s a corner lurking beast of a thing with a steel board to magnetically pin notes to. Shelves above and below the main surface, and a couple of parts I can’t use because I have no idea what they are for.

We had to assemble it from component parts which arrived in kit form with no instructions, which caused much scratching of heads during assembly, especially as the whole thing felt a little counter intuitive. As far as populating it is concerned, at present I’m going for the minimalist approach. Cordless handset phone on my right. My own books on one of the upper right hand glass shelves. PC speakers on the top centre with a battered old Lava lamp providing a contemplative focus. Laptop stage centre, lonely tea mug on my left in what seems an acre of space. Wallet on top left hand shelf next to some fly tying contraption with a magnifying glass I picked up from somewhere.

Underneath, dog is snoring at my feet in the capacious void below with the dangling wires and a power bar. Even down there are two shelves. I think one is meant for a small footprint printer, and the other for a desktop base unit. They don’t feel right as footrests.

Today I begin work on the second Cerberus novel with a quantum look at Death via a murder scene. Working title; ‘A falling of Angels’.