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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Hello to anyone still reading this….

It’s almost Christmas again and I’ve hardly written anything this year, well I’ve hardly written any fiction. I’ve been too busy with other non-fiction stuff (mostly programming related projects) and have spent a lot of my spare time on my Indie games programming.

Hopefully 2014 is the year I get my OtherWhere stories finished once and for all, maybe then I can try and actually do something with them… or not.

I don’t get book-tokens for Christmas anymore, but the pre-paid Waterstones and Smiths cards are already arriving (so I can buy myself something I’d like for Christmas), isn’t progress wonderful.
Once again I can unwrap the books I’ve bought, from them to me, on the 25th and get a big surprise… well to be fair my family and friends do all know my memory is really bad.
The thing is I’ve no idea what to get this year. There’s the latest DiskWorld book of course, but I will be getting that as part of my presents from my wife… which is why I haven’t bought it already.
I’m changing jobs at the end of January as well, so I’ll probably need some more programming books, but I’m loathed to get these as someone’s present to me –looks of disappointment and confusion generally follow this, as they’ve told me to ‘buy something nice.’

So any ideas on what good Fantasy/SF books are out there?
What is Santa bringing you?

Friday, 25 October 2013

Being creative…

I haven’t written much in this blog for a while, but then I haven’t written much fiction at all for a while. It’s not that I've eventually came to my senses, decided I'm not good enough, will never catch a break, and decided to do something less ethereal with my limited time or anything, err nothing ‘normal’ like that…

But I have been productive. I’ve been spending most of my free-time, which isn’t much, on my other ‘hobby’ recently… Ah, yes, you noticed the quotes did you. I was always under the impression that hobbies were supposed to be something you did to relax. Well my hobby is writing, writing fictional stories, and writing computer games, the type of thing that is referred to as Indie. And the latter has largely taken my attention away from the former over the best part of the past year... Although I have done a bit of writing, honest.

I read a few blogs on why people write recently. It’s always an interesting subject because, although you do get the same old tropes rearing up, every single person has a different take on what makes them write, or be creative. I've also noticed that there seems to be an ever-increasing number of people seriously intent on becoming a fiction Author out there. Not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing by any means.  Perhaps I lucky to have an established career away from fiction writing, or perhaps this is a safety-net that stops me taking it more seriously than a hobby and pipe dream.  Although I honestly don’t think I’m good enough to make a living out of it anyway, which brings me back to my other writing hobby, writing games programs… And it is writing, and it is creative. I program computer applications for a living and am often amazed at how dry people perceive this to be, compared to the similarities I find with fiction writing. You have to design things in your mind and write them out in a format that works for other people, you have to design your output to appeal to people and to be easy to take in and understand, and most of all you need to be creative.
And I think that’s the root of why I like to write, it’s why I like to make Indie computer games, and why I have an avid interest in art; and like to draw and paint, although I’ll never be all that good; it’s because, even though none of it is ever going to make me rich or famous, I am a naturally creative person, and sadly not everyone is. To be honest if the point of someone’s writing, or doing any of the things I mentioned, is solely to make money I think they must be forcing it and surely there must be much better, and easier, ways for most people to make money. But hay, if they have the talent and skill why not. People do jobs they don’t particularly like every day, for most of their lives…

I'm by no means bread-line poor, and would quite like to be comfortably-well-off, but I don’t think I’d like to be famous, and nowadays writers tend to be ‘sold’ as a commodity much more than before. I’d like to eventually finish my OtherWhere stories in one form or another, and would be quite happy if they were moderately successful. I still have some games to finish off, but next year will be the year I get back to fiction writing and finish off those stories, even if nobody else on the planet notices. I do think the ‘hobbyist’ is generally being squeezed out, scoffed at and looked down upon a bit more in general now though, especially in on-line writing sites. I don’t know why because some of the best literature came from people who, at least initially, saw what they were doing as a hobby or pastime. But if you are a serious beginner write, I sincerely wish you the best of luck… And know you are going to need it.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Interactive Literature

 I wasn’t sure whether to put this on my games blog or on here. Obviously I decided to put it here… for reasons that should hopefully become apparent…

People have been talking about fiction becoming interactive since the inception of the ‘text-based adventure game.’ I recently come across an essay written in the 1989, purely by chance,  and soon realised that nothing much has really changed in the general public’s attitudes to this medium from then till now, which is surprising really, as our general attitudes to pretty much every other aspect of computing has changed.
I remember spending many hours of my youth playing these text-based adventure games, and have probably spent more time on this type of program than on any other. I remember eagerly awaiting the release of the next Scott Adams Adventure game for my VIC-20, then later drooling over the hype machines from  the likes of Level 9, Infocom,  and Magnetic Scrolls, to name but a few. And make no mistake, these games releases were major events, with many people more than ready to part with their cash for the next game in a series or for the latest brand new story. The best-selling text-based adventure games were easily amongst the bestselling entertainment software of their day, and it very much was about the story and its, often reoccurring, characters.  This was a recognized gamming genre that only seemed set to stay and grow with time. Then everything changed. As computer gaming become gradually more mainstream the emphasis was firmly placed on graphics and easy to access gameplay. By the time of the Sony Playstation heralded in an era of 3D gameplay for everyone, the traditional text-based adventure game was already commercially dead and largely forgotten by the general games-playing public.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Dan Brown - An Inferno in a Tea-Cup?

 Ok, so I more-or-less knew what the reaction to the latest Blockbuster by Dan Brown was going to be before it was launched earlier this week. People were always going to buy this in their droves, and the ‘literary’ critics were always going to berate it as ‘badly written pulp,’ which they did – and worse. Still the book was already on Waterstones best-seller list even before it was released, due to the quantity of pre-orders… Not that you really needed to pre-order it. One day after launch I walked into Tesco’s to be greeted by a huge pile of the inferno Hardbacks, bundled up right in-front of the doors.  I didn’t pick one up though, even though I have read the other three books in the series and freely admit that I quite liked them. No they won’t win a Pulitzer, but they will make an absolutely ridiculous amount of money for all concerned, and be honest, which one would you really, really like? I didn’t not buy it because of any moral or literary stance though, I didn’t buy it because I still had a couple of Waterston’s gift cards left over from Christmas, and I decided to opt for the e-reader version.
I’m only a little ways into the book at the time of writing this, but it’s already abundantly clear that this is exactly what I thought it would be, more of the same formula. If that sounds a bit dismissive it isn’t meant to be. As I said, I liked the formula. I liked the last books. They were simple adventurous fun ‘fluff,’ but what’s wrong with that? I liked the previous stories and I liked what I’ve read of this one. I will finish it, smile, put it down, and forget about it until the next one comes out… Just like I did with the rest, and there is nothing wrong with that. I suppose this series can be my ‘Hary Potter’ or dare I say it even my ‘Twilight’ (shudder)…
It’s not rocket-science, it’s not high-brow, and it probably won’t ever be seen as ‘literature’ whatever that’s meant to be. But it is a good crowed pleasing story, and yet more proof, if it were ever needed, that precise clinical ‘literary’ writing we are all told to practice isn’t necessarily what the general public (the people I actually seen one critique refer to as ‘the unwashed masses,’ tells you bucket-loads about the reviewer that does) really want, what they want is a good story…
… then in our hearts I think we all know that, so good luck to Mr Brown.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Working Draft Cover Idea…

This is the working draft of my cover Idea for a book comprising of three of my Novella length OtherWhere stories.
I’d appreciate any comments, but would especially like comments on what type of story you think this is illustrating, what demographic you think it may appeal to, and whether or not it looks eye-catching enough. Also, do you think it still looks OK thumb-nailed and in full?

It does what I wrote in my description, but… Does it look ‘professional’ enough or too amateur… I honestly can’t tell with cover art!