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, ūüėÄ

 

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.

16th October

It’s been a strange few weeks.

My holiday was great for the weather and swimming in the sea aspects of things. We saw dolphins, seals, and otters. The otters were at arms length, which was so awesome. On a less great side my brother has been subjected to some extremely nasty crap – accusations that are obscene (and proven false). We spent a lot of time drinking, sauna-ing, walking on the beach, and talking. The poor guy dos not deserve it.

We are also moving to the other end of the country – the house currently is in a state of semi-boxification. Most of them at this point are filled with books – sooooo many books.

This has made writing problematic. As has the worry that I just can’t tell a story in a way that sells. Or maybe I need to find a sympathetic editor who likes one of the stories enough to guide it into landing. Or I can just get better. Much better. So much better.

Course, for that, I need to be writing. Am I writing? Nearly. Very, Very, Nearly.

4th September

I’m on holiday. I have my laptop (fail). Good excuse. My good lady wife will be using it to do some editing for her mother (another writer – natch).

So, I’m going to use it. Aim is 1k words a day and a completed novella (30-35k words – is that novella? – I already have the first 18k done) draft by the time I go home.

And I’m gonna do all the other stuff I said – with my red hair (check twitter – @clivetern)

3 September

I’m going on holiday for two weeks, and I’m not taking my laptop.

I am, instead, going to reconnect with pen and paper.

I might post some pics with the phone, I might not.

Meh!

But, I am going to be working on a story with a main character called The Captain. There’s about 20k words already there. Plan is to write another 15-20k and return home with a first draft. 35-40k is light these days, but that’s the aim. Almost four times longer than anything Ive ever written.

Then it’ll be time to do the stuff that makes you a real writer. Re-writing. I’m not sure I can do that bit yet.

31 August

Jen DeLuca nominated me for the 7*7*7*7 challenge (read Jen’s here).

The rules are: Go to the seventh line of the seventh page of a current WIP, then post the next seven lines and tag seven more authors to do the same.

Now, the first bit of that near stumped me. What is my WIP? I have several projects on the go, some of them languishing in a limbo of either ‘I’m not sure I can write this how I want to’ or ‘I’m not sure I care enough about this to write any more’.

So I made a choice and these are from my novelette with a working title of Epecuén:

‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a country boy who sees a hundred city girls a year. I‚Äôm sure you were special last year. Odette, dear‚Ķ‚ÄĚ she left the sentence unfinished, banging the dough and raising a small puff of flour. ‚ÄúLet‚Äôs get this bread proving, and then we should put the chicken in the oven.‚ÄĚ
That was the only time Odette spoke to either of her parents about the matter.

Now to tag seven other writers…

August 30th

What to say when there’s nothing to say?

Three weeks ago seems a long time, and in the interim I have written little. A sonnet which needs polishing, a story which needs a finish and then consigned to a bin and forgotten about – it really is pretty poor, and not near to the submission call which inspired it.

I’m struggling with the writing thing. I still have things to write, but am unsure I can find a market for my style. I have readers who tell me ‘I like what you write, please keep going’ but it’s more difficult to find editors who agree. What to do? What to do?

I could SP. Slap my stuff out and demand an audience. Problem is, I’m not sure it’s the best I can do. If it’s not the best, why do it?

Leave me be for a week or so, I’ll figure something out and then it’ll be a whole new shiny beginning.

Which brings me to the real subject of the post: Rape.

Can you think of an uglier word? There are three things that have lifted this into the post. Firstly is¬†Chris Hynde’s¬†comments on both her rape, and the act in general. The second is¬†a game¬†which led to¬†Exploding Rogue¬†removing it’s main sales platform. The third is¬†China Mi√©ville, specifically his novel¬†Perdido Street Station.

In Perdido Street Station on of the secondary characters has had his wings removed. Late in the book we discover that it was because he ‘took away the choice’ of someone. I have never heard rape expressed better. Taking away the choice. Taking away the right of self expression. Of Self.

Rape is abhorrent, and act of violence, of abuse.

So a game predicated on the act is so far beyond the pale, I can’t imagine how it gets past any type of censor.

Which brings me to Chrissie Hynde. It’s an unusual act to choose responsibility for being raped. Because rape is the responsibility of the aggressor/s. Coming across a naked, nubile, unconscious, female would not induce me to engage in congress. That would be rape. Disgusting, anathema. Would that all men share my view. Does this make Chrissie a rape apologist?

She clearly thinks not. Others think yes. The truth is somewhere between. It should be the case that a person can wander around in whatever state they desire and not be molested or abused. Sadly it isn’t the case. There are degrees of exposure to danger that we place ourselves in, and the higher the degree of exposure, the greater the chance of us experiencing damage. For example, I place my car in the drive, remove the keys, and lock it. I am not surprised it is not stolen in the morning. Should I leave it with unlocked doors and keys in the ignition in the high street I would be less surprised if it was stolen. This is an horrifically crude comparison, but it is essentially the one Chrissie Hynde uses. She likens herself to that second car. Is there any question that a crime was committed, once which should not? NO. But she does admit that she left herself more open to it. ¬†To be clear, I do not think that she deserved to be raped. No one does. Ever.

It’s difficult. I’m a six foot four inch tall straight white male. I’ve never felt sexually threatened (intimidated by many women, but never threatened). I see Facebook and Twitter friends who are harassed and/or threatened purely on the basis of their gender and/or sexuality and it is not something I experience. That doesn’t mean I can’t have views. Or that mine are right or wrong. they’re just mine. They aren’t difficult views to comprehend. No one should be raped. Rapists are responsible for their actions, no one else. There are situations where the likelihood of rape is heightened, not being in those positions is a protection.

I’d quite happily assign castration as the punishment for all rapists.

Taking away another’s choice is pretty much the ultimate cruelty. A foul and vicious attack, especially where the victim is left accused of¬†guilt. That needs to stop. I’ve started with me. I’m working on making sure my son is the next.