Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2012

    As much as I don’t mind slating Tory politicians I find myself struggling to understand how Francis Maude can be blamed for the terrible tragedy that befell the woman in York who was pouring PETROL, (GAS for American readers)from a jerry can into a glass jug. 
    According to a report from the Mail Online, Mr Maude, the Cabinet Office minister said: People need to be aware there is a risk to supplies. When it makes sense, a bit of extra fuel in a jerry can in the garage is a sensible precaution to take.’
    Sometimes people do stupid things for a variety of reasons; stress, tiredness, forgetfulness, but it’s stretching it quite a lot to blame a hapless politician for this poor woman’s accident.
    I asked my children aged 9 and 11 what they knew about petrol. They both told me that it was extremely dangerous if handled incorrectly and that it could burn and explode. When I further asked if they thought it a good idea to pour some from a can to a jug in the kitchen next to the gas cooker while I was boiling a pan of water they both looked at me as if I were mad.
      I suspect they occasionally think that of me anyway, but if I did that they’d be right.
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

    When my wife and I were casting round for a way of economising a few days ago and she suggested cutting my hair I thought she was joking, until I saw the look of intent on her face. It was unlikely to save much I protested; after all I only have a hair cut every three months. That’s four times a year, and at £10 a pop it’s not exactly breaking the bank. I didn’t like to suggest we’d save far more if chocolate was never bought again – ever!
    When nothing happened immediately I thought I’d got away with it, but I should have know better. Fast forward to Saturday night; nothing worth watching on the TV – when is there ever – and she said, ‘Come on I’ll cut your hair.’
    I know, I know, I could have said no; feigned some illness, but in truth the TV was really boring, so I agreed.
    I was a little nervous at first, especially when I saw what scissors she was using; they were little blue ones the kids use in craft activities. Still they were sharp, and to be fair they weren’t the ones that cut paper in wavy lines.
    I’ve never known a hair cut last so long though; I swear I fell asleep for a while. It was snip here, snip there, for well over thirty minutes. She kept standing back and assessing, then there’d be another little flurry of snips.
    Still, we had a laugh; although she found it far more amusing than I did, judging by the way she chuckled every time she stepped back for a clearer look.
    ‘What’s the difference between Harrison Ford and Catweazle? She asked at one point. I told her I didn’t know. ‘I can’t see one either.’ Was her enigmatic reply.
    Eventually I was allowed to look in the mirror, and it was, well… unlike any haircut that I’ve ever had before. Well maybe it was a little bit like the one done by the drunken barber thirty years ago who managed to cut both sides of my hair a different length. No, I think it was better than that! 
    All I have to do now is decide what to spend the £40 a year on that I’m going to be saving.

Read Full Post »

    Having been compared by two different reviewers of my debut novel, Coming Home, to Alan Sillitoe, and Evelyn Waugh, surely I could be forgiven for basking in the warm glow of popular acclaim?
    I thought so; at least for a short while anyway. I wouldn’t get too carried away; I wouldn’t immediately dash out and proclaim from the rooftops: ‘Hey, guess what! I’m the new Alan Sillitoe, or, depending on the rooftop, I’m the new Evelyn Waugh.’ I wouldn’t puff up my new found peacock feathers too much; rather I’d just quietly savour the feeling.
    That wasn’t too much to ask, was it? Well, apparently it was.
    A different reviewer, whilst not actually saying my novel was crap, managed to give me that impression in her review. This left me with a major problem. Do I now not read any reviews, or do I start reading and if they look favourable carry on, and if not stop. Or, do I take the more mature approach, and read all reviews, glow or sulk for a while depending on content, and then forget and move on?
  Alternatively, I could read all reviews, focus on any negatives, analysing the points being made, and if I agreed, learn from them. Having decided to approach them this way I took a deep breath and approached the crap review quietly from behind in order to take it unawares. And found that, she’d picked up on exactly the same points about my novel that I was unhappy with myself. Okay, she’d also disliked some of the things about it that I really liked. But hey, we’re being mature here.
    I knew really all the time that my novel wasn’t perfect; that the three five stars out of five bestowed on it by other reviewers were overly generous. I was just miffed that someone I didn’t know on another continent had only given it two out of five when I considered it worthy of three.
    Still, you can always download it, read it, and then give your own opinion, bearing in mind that anything less than three out of five and I’ll sending the boys round.

Read Full Post »

    Not normally being one for new year resolutions I surprised myself on the 1st of January 2011 by resolving to write and publish a novel within a year. I further surprised the thrifty side of my nature by deciding to make it available free of charge. It would be a marketing exercise I decided. If I charged even a nominal sum it might put people off – there’s lots of other things around on which to spend 99 pence after all – but if it was free then the only impediment to downloading would be the cover and the synopsis.
    It was going to be, I decided, a full length novel of 100k plus words, and it would be based on a play that I’d started but never completed ten or more years before. In the event the only thing of the play that remained was the idea; the title, Coming Home; and a few lines of dialogue.
    The premise of the book was simple; two boyhood friends had decided to join the army together, but in the event only one of them did. The other remained at home and did something else with his life. Twenty five years later the one who’d joined the army came home and took up his life again in Slaithstone in South Yorkshire where he’d been born and raised.
    In the intervening years since the unfinished play was put to one side and I decided to write the novel, I became a Christian. This I felt should be reflected in the lives of one or more of the characters in the book. It would also be a source of conflict, among the others in the book.
    So, I had my idea, I had a theme, all I had to do now was knuckle down and write the book. I’d tried writing novels before and had quickly got bogged down in details of chronology, continuity, and various other minor but important details. I needed a system, a writing aid. After looking at various software, some more helpful than others, I settled on yWriter, the latest version of which can be found here. yWriter enabled me to break the novel down into bite sized chunks. If you think of a film, it’s broken down into scenes, and a novel isn’t really any different. The different scenes build into chapters and the chapters become the finished book.
    I was nearly there; nearly ready to start writing, to give life and voice to the different characters buzzing round my head, jostling for space, all wanting to be heard. Next though, were the targets. I wanted this to be a discipline; I didn’t want to just look at it every so often, write a few words here, a few words there, and then mid way through March abandon it.
    For some reason 500 words a day came to mind. It was a nice round figure. I was only going to write during the working week; there would no writing at weekends, bank holidays, or holidays from work. This left me with approximately 230 days to write 100k words, which works out at 435 words a day. I was comfortable with that. Some days I’d do more, some less, but I felt it was do-able.
    I won’t go through the writing process word by word, but because I’d taken a careful disciplined approach it proved easier than I thought it would. It was still difficult but I was spurred on by the thought that only 5% of people of people who begin writing a book go on to finish it. I wanted to be one of the 5%.
    The book, Coming Home, was self published on the 21st December 2011 and is available for free on various internet sites. To date it has been downloaded over a 1000 times. If you’d like to read it you can find it by clicking on the title above. A word of warning though, although it is written by a Christian, and has a Christian theme, it deals with real people with real problems in the real world. There is occasional swearing and some sexual imagery.
    So, what next? I’ve written a novel, and published it. Should I stop there? Maybe I should, but I don’t feel that I can. I’m in the early stages of planning a sequel which will answer some of the questions posed at the end of Coming Home. It will also introduce new characters who live in Slaithstone, who at the moment are just voices in my head waiting to have their story told. And, I might even charge a nominal amount for the next one!

Read Full Post »