July 18

It’s two weeks since I de-twittered. What a strange couple of weeks. I’ve read several articles about social media’s addictiveness, how it molds its users, changing their identity.

Of course, everyone believes it doesn’t happen to them. Same way no-one believes advertising is effective in their case. This, of course, is not true. If advertising was ineffective companies would not pour millions into promoting, or having specialist companies promote, their products. The truth is we are all affected by the things we interact with, whether we realise it, accept it, it or not. And our personality, as well as our level of interaction, determines to what extent we are affected.

For me, social media is not a healthy thing to be around or to become addicted to. Having removed it I feel the urges to respond to news or snippets in the way my brain has become used to, that snippy, hopefully witty, or insightful epithet or rejoinder. What I’ve realised is how limiting that is to the overall thought process. Having flashed a response and communicated it to the world the matter was sidelined, no further thought or consideration. Now I find myself taking longer to think about a story, about its ramifications and potential impact. So that’s all good.

On the writing front I’m part way through revision of a 1k word story written for the Codex Flash – Saviour of the Universe 2018 competition. No details, as we write under pseudonyms during the competition period. However, From a base story of just under one thousand words, I’m up to about 1700. I need to finish it asap – the next round starts on Friday.

Also, I’m still mid-story with my return to the cycle of US state stories. Tennessee is the target of the tale and I have the full story arc sketched out. It should have been written by now, but holidays and the competition above have got in the way. Still, it’s good to have things bubbling away.

My ME is playing havoc with my sleep patterns at the moment. A few hours here, some overnight, a couple in the afternoon. I’m not sure if it’s been amplified by the muggy evenings, but it’s frustrating.

With regard to the weather, how great is this heat? So delicious!

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24th January

Award Elligibility Post

Fishing Lake Tanganyika

The Black Birds of White Oaks

Both these stories were published by Mugwump Press in their Afromyth collection.

November 29

Aaaaaaaannnnd I’m back. Today.

I think the blog this year has reflected where I’m at. It’s unfocused, with some recurring themes, but a lack of any purpose or clarity.

I’m happy to put that down to the unexpected move earlier in the year, and that the house we moved into was smaller than our previous one. The one aspect we have in our favor here is a more certain tenancy, but allied to that is the need to do more to make the house our home.

For most people that wouldn’t be a huge issue, but as I’m the family carer (Wife: Ehler’s-Danloss & Fybromylagia; Son: Epilepsy & Aspergers; Daughter: ADHD & Joint Hypermobility; Daughter: Autism) & I was diagnosed last year with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, then it becomes a bit difficult.

When we moved into our last house did extensive work in the living room, and the landing. Each took me a 7-10 days. The bookcases my son and I have made took nearly three months – 90 days – for some bookcases! Now, to be fair, they are handmade from reclaimed timber and designed for the space they are in, still 3 months?

That being said, it’s lovely to have some books out.

I mean, really lovely, to have some books out.

I’ve even been re-reading some I’d nearly forgotten I owned. Oh, I love some of my books. I hope the rest will be in the boxes as yet to be unpacked, as opposed to having been lost in the moves.

 

On twitter there is a ‘Round up of the year’ thing going on. In truth, it hasn’t been a good year for me. Nothing published so far, which I put down to the upheaval of the previous move (550 miles), and the diagnoses of ME. I do have 3 upcoming credits but, until I have publication dates, I’m holding off on further details – though I’ve sent back final edits, and received confirmation on them.

The paucity of return has made me ponder somewhat on my activity. I have finished stories this year, and even submitted them. But not all. Some of them aren’t ready yet – eg, my mid-year novelette set in a near-ish future with genderless pronouns – others are just not good enough.

And ‘not good enough’ appears to be the theme of the year. I’ve had several ‘Close, but no cigar’ rejections this year – or, to put it another way, personal or tier 2 rejections.

Having realised that I tried to figure out what to do. The first thing was to step back from First Reading duties with Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine. That was a blow. I’ve really enjoyed this, and Charlie offered good feedback on the stories I was able to submit as a First Reader. Secondly I’ve signed up with Gareth Powell for one of his mentored Patreon positions. I’ve recently had my first lot of (very helpful) feedback, and look forward to discussing it together.

Maybe, if I work hard, and write nicely, then I’ll approach the foothills of the mountains scaled by my virtual buddy, and recent WORLD FANTASY AWARD WINNER, G.V.Anderson. Did you note that she WON the award! How freaking awesome is that? She is da’ bomb. Well done buddy!

So, in short, for the next year, I’m gonna do better. Better.

If you’ve had a bad year, and are freaking out about the next, then aim for ‘better’.

 

5th August

And now it’s August!

I really want to do a nice long post. I want to tell you about my friends wonderful story that’s up for an award, about my novel, my novella, my attempt o be writing , and fear that I can’t, that the words written mean nothing. I want to tell you about my buddy’s wonderful ‘break the twitter’ post that’s flooded my feed with positivity for the last couple of days.

And instead my arms ache, my throat aches, my groin aches. All the physical signs of my ME being bad. And my head is full of cobwebs, fog, marshmallow, cotton wool, and lethargy, and ennui.

So, sorry.

That’s it for now.

July 16

How swiftly do six weeks pass?

They are an exhalation, the space between breaths, the dream forgotten in the moment of wakening. And other such excuses for to having written a post in that time.

Why? Rinse, wash, repeat various reasons from other posts since the start of the blog, and choose your favorites. But I’m here now, dammit!

And with such news and tales and the like as will make your eyes sparkle, your ears tingle, and that funny bit of skin on the inside of your arm itch like you have hives.

First news. SIGNED CONTRACTS!

I submitted three stories to calls by Afrocentric for their forthcoming anthologies. Two have been accepted, two!  Now the anthologies are being collated by Jem McBride, who I don’t personally know, but have been reliantly informed is opinionated and not scared of sharing such. I’m really proud that my writing has stepped are enough out of my limited experience to be considered for inclusion in the anthologies. I really look forward to reading the other works chosen.

Secondly: EDGE-Lit 6

I was at this event yesterday. My first such venture. What an incredible day! First off I got to meet IRL a couple of people I’ve only known visually (Matt Dovey & Dion Winton-Polak). Both were as charming IRL as online – which meant I had to pretend to be the same.

Then I got to meet new people. I was going to create a list, but FB algorithms have decided I don’t need to see the most helpful post from over the weekend (The Friday night meet-up one). So, I’m going for a blanket thank you to the people who made a newbie feel so welcome and included.

One thing that really impressed me was the panels. Not all middle aged white males. Not all run my white guys. Not dominated by men when the discussion was ongoing.

 

I was going to write more. But I’m tired, and trying to find people I met on Twitter and FB.

But no writing tonight. Not even rubbishy first drafts with plot holes the size of spaceships (which I totally can write now – in theory).

June 1

Moving head speed towards halfway through the year.

The weather is wet, but deliciously warm, and I’m enjoying that. I wish the ME wasn’t wiping me out so comprehensively at the moment.

In writing news my novella is no longer the least loved in the group, and I’ve had my best ever finish in Q1 of The Writers of the Future – I got to the finals. Annoyingly, I think I may have a revision of the story that would have taken me all the way. Never mind, heh.

With regard to the novellas, I’ve been reading the other entries. Two of them stand out for me so far. One is just a nicely constructed story, to the extent that I completely ignored how little I enjoy the non-human characters and world element. The other is absolutely exquisite and I’m pretty sure I know who the author is (all stories are subbed and read anonymously). If I’m correct, then this person already has one beautiful story published, and a new one is upcoming in F&SF magazine

We’ll see if I’m correct later in the month.

Right now, apart from reading novella entries, I’m trying to hammer an alt-history steampunk story into shape. It’s set on the world’s first trans-continental railway, the Dakar-Djibouti. The opening of this service is a proud moment for the Ethiopian Empire. Unfortunately, the French ambassador is killed within hours of the journey starting. Will head of security, Yakob Nefolou, be able to solve the case, prevent a war, and keep his job?

Currently, I don’t know. I’m stuck, 😀

 

May 19

Wrote a novella draft.

Longest single story I have ever written.

Man, it’s bad. Soooo many typos. A main character who changes sex, a secondary character who changes sex and name. An ending that is like ex-lovers handing over small boxes of possessions in a pub carpark.

But, over 18k on a completed story.

Never done that.

I really like the story. It has some good lines in it. What I need to do is go back and relook at it with dispassionate eyes, in 3 or 4 months.

 

The other thing that’s happened is a huge step away from social media. More a divorce than stepping away. No FB, no Twitter. Have you seen those posts of lovely locations with a tag line of ‘3 months here with no internet – tag if you like’. Well, I live in the beautiful location. I have work to do in the new house, I have family to care for, things I want to write, and lots I need to revise.

So, no social media.

That’s all for the moment.

20th October

I’ve been here before.

That’s the title of today’s post, and a chunk of it will be about cycling. First, a primer of the situation at present. Team Sky are a professional cycling team. Formed a few years ago they were sold as the antithesis to the US Postal team which proven cheat Lance Armstrong cycled for. They would take the excellence of incremental enhancements which saw Team GB’s cycling team sweep all before them at an Olympic level, and add to it an avoidance of improprietous drug usage.

WOW! They were effective. Choosing riders for races, sacrificing well known names for the overall progress of the team. And they won the Tour de France. More than once. Awesome.

Then, because of the ban on a majority of Russian athletes being allowed to compete at the Rio Olympic games, a group of hackers set about looking for drug impropriety in other nations. To be fair, most of the releases have been nothing outstanding. But they did find details of the use of TUE’s by Team Sky riders, including Sir (now) Bradly Wiggins in 2001, 20012 (his Tour de France & Olympic time trial winning year) and, 2013. And today there is a story about a Team GB cycling flying an unidentified medical package from Britain to France. Begging the question of what medicine could not be obtained in France?

What’s a TUE? A Therapeutic Usage Exemption. It allows for a specified us of otherwise embargoed medication. And I want to be very clear here, we are talking about medication. this is not the days of Tommy Simpson where amphetamines, or la bomba, were in common usage. TUE’s are designed to allow an athlete to compete on a level playing field that would otherwise be impossible due to an underlying medical condition. Sir Bradley’s condition? Asthma. I have asthma (because I’m a fat chuffer), many people have asthma. Not many of us are Olympic gold, tour de France winning knights of the realm.

And that’s why today’s post is called ‘I’ve been here before’. Because I have. I was here when Lance Armstrong was accused of being dirty, and he stood and called out his accusers, sued his accusers, and was vindicated in court. Then he admitted to being the cheat he was accused of. Suddenly all those people who had been reviled by him and his defenders, who had been driven to the brink of ruin by him, who had been defrauded by him, were proven to be right, truthful, and honorable. I remember the evening Lance tweeted a picture of himself with his framed even Tour de France maillot jaune and a tag of ‘Just chilling’. The was after the USDA had produced their report detailing his cheating. I’d read the report, I was already convinced of his guilt (I didn’t need to see him admit it to Oprah) and was sickened by his blatantcy.

Now I’m seeing similar denials and prevarications. I’m parsing the words of other cyclists and hearing ‘yeh, I thought it was dodgy as hell’. It’s horrible.

If it’s true he should be stripped of all his awards and prizes. Team Sky are already shedding senior staff, they should be disbanded (which is gutting).

Going forward, all cyclist need to have an open blood passport (as should all professional athletes) and any TUE should be open. The current system requires, I believe, three separate doctors to sign off on its usage. That is robust, the only thing missing is transparency. Any request should be linked with the blood passport and extra blood testing for those using a TUE must be part of the process.

It’s the only way cycling (actually, road racing) can be revived and given credibility.

And that’s the end of part one, the cycling bit.

Next, I write you know!

And I’ve been here before. Or there, that is. Earlier this month I wrote about looking at my stock of written and part-written work, and then making a decision on how to move forward. I did this. I was surprised by what came forward.

Most of what I write is SF, to some extent. But I also have another passion project. Writing a story unique to each US state, along with a few stories about other areas unique to the US. I’ve spoken about getting the first volume out before, and not done it. But now it’s moving forward. My first 11 stories, about 37,000 words, are nearly ready. What do I mean by ready? Each story is as I want it to be. now I’m combing through for irritating typos, formatting for publication, ensuring that curly quotes are used throughout (instead of a mix of straight and curly quotes as was there at the start). I’ve got a couple of people signed on for beta reading, but would love some more.

Let me know.

Lastly on the theme of ‘I’ve been here before’ there was a problem blew up in the SF community last weekend. A well known writer was revealed as a manipulating, creepy, bastard. It keeps happening, not just in SF, but more than I want to see in a field I love and am involved in.

Can I ask a favor? Could men is SF stop being creepy bastards? It really isn’t all, or even a majority, but it’s enough to make things horrible. I really don’t care if you have strict views on what a person may or may not do, just don’t try to impose them on someone else. I don’t care if your writing is mono-colored, just stop demanding non-white people have no place in our non-real fiction writing field. I don’t care if you are a creep who believes women are beneath you, and that people are only useful if they can advance your career, just ,please, sod off and stop being a bastard round here.

I don’t want to be here again.

 

 

 

 

 

21st December

Can’s see me posting anything more this year.

So this is December’s post.

This year I wrote less than I wanted, accomplished less than I wanted,  and achieved less than I wanted in the field of writing.

That being said I did garner the following publications:

The Maker

A Story’s Genesis

Shell County Vodou

Whaur Kelpies Gallop

Unwanted Progress

The Shadow of Coming Events

And my story ‘Salt on the Sand Sea’ received an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future fourth quarter contest, for which I got:

HONORABLE MENTION

This funky jpeg.

 

Thank you to Zetetic, Pidgeonholes, Chris Kelso, SF Comet, and The Quarterday Review for choosing my writing to grace your pages.

Onwards to 2016

23rd October

I’m on a double countdown.

Nine days until NaNoWrimo starts

Seventeen days until we move to the other end of the country.

Nothing really happening then…

Well, I have some stories out for consideration – one of them is about to hit the 120 day mark, so I’ll query that next week. The house is looking a like a combined storehouse/refuse tip. Amazingly, I still haven’t boxed all of our books – There is discussion of opening a bookshop… (I typoed that as bookship – I like that idea).

I’ve been trying to write, and edit, and plot, and well, everything. Without much success. The plan is to hit NaNoWrimo. Ignore everything else, edit some stories for my US States series for self-pub, then restart again in January.