Sunday, 17 December 2017

The part I hate most.

I've finally finished the last edit but one of Sod's Law. Now comes the part I hate the mostest: the bit where I get rid of all the typos. I read somewhere a few years ago that the best way to find and destroy typos is to read the book backwards. 

    It works but is the most tedious and boring and method of doing it. I then tried a couple of the most common pieces of software for this, to which I might treat myself as a Christmas present. The only thing is that they don't seem to have been coded by someone who's ever heard of regional accents or dialects. Or in fact anyone who speaks English like an englishman.

  Now even I'll admit that when I'm writing with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek some of the words and phrase I use are fine over here on the wrong side of the Atlantic, but probably won't be recognised by anyone else. The problem is that the software spent so much time pointing out my mistakes but completely missed all the absent full stops, commas and in fact just about everything else.

    Here's a case in point:

‘I am a policeman,’ the man said patiently despite the barely concealed agitation in his eyes. ‘Detective Sergeant...’ but got no further as something appeared at lightening speed from the edge of Arnold’s vision.
    The something was a hand - a very large hand. And it was now encircling the man’s neck. It was not a hand Arnold recognised and his eyes fixed on its long fingers, their length and girth clearly sufficient to crush the man’s spine. Furthermore, those fingers were currently squeezing with wrathful vigour. Arnold looked past the hand with interest and onto the pulsating arm, then slowly at the body to which it belonged. He could not stifle the gasp.

    Never before had he seen such a face. It was a woman, probably. A virago of a woman. High cheekbones almost pierced the skin as jaws laden with yellow teeth ground nauseatingly together. Her eyes, if it really was a she, were black and lifeless while from her throat a low guttural groaning denoted either imminent asphyxiation or a bizarre form of laughter. From the heels of her ten inch Doc Marten boots to the top of her masculine haircut she must have been six feet tall. And every inch of it was muscle as displayed through the skintight jeans and short sleeved t-shirt tautly stretched over a thin bosom-less chest.

    At first I compromised and changed most of it just to satisfy the whining of the software. When I'd finished, the passage bore no similarity to the original so I changed it back and checked it letter by letter.

    I'm looking forward to finishing this; my new one, Snodden, is burning a hole in my brain.


Monday, 11 December 2017

Got through the day alive.

What I should say is that I got through the trip to work and back home alive. Let me tell you that if someone (me) is stupid enough to ride a scooter thirteen miles through six inches of snow unscathed, or undead, then everything else is a bonus.

    Whilst waiting for my arms and legs to thaw out I idly scanned the latest edited version of my new novel. You'd have thought that after five edits I would have spotted the fatal flaw. It's just another example of falling in love with one's own words. I'll begin again at the weekend. Perhaps it's too much editing in too short a time. Nevertheless I will produce something to be proud of. Not by Christmas as was my wish but shortly after - probably.

    I did get time at the weekend to fiddle with my new book's cover. I've often wondered through it's many changes, if I should have put some background behind the central image. And after messing about for hours with GIMP discovering how to insert backgrounds finally settled for none.

    My in-house arbiter of taste (she who must be obeyed) has graciously granted her approval and I will reveal it on the day I publish.

    My only concern-ette is the weather. Most of the snow is gone but tonight it's supposed to drop below -40 C or some abominable temperature. So tomorrow all I have to worry about is white ice, black ice and ever other shade in between whilst riding down the most dangerous road in southern England. Wish me luck.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Help me I'm boring

Whilst taking a break from writing I've been reading. No biggy there, most writers read - it's a prerequisite of being a good writer.

    My problem is that I keep reading the same ten book series again and again and a...etc etc. It's no problem because I love the series. What is a problem is that like Independence Day, The Langoliers, and several other films to which I know every single solitary word of dialogue it's the same with these books. I know what happens in every single chapter - every single page.

    eBookBetty.com is a great place for finding books and kudos to Betty? for doing it. However, I don't read or write romance and crime isn't my bag so-to-speak. I have managed to find half a dozen great books on EBook B but there have to be more books I can read.

    The problem is that the stock of 60's espionage novels (especially if you don't like John le CarrĂ©) is finite. Most of the post apocalypse books are full of zombies and Stephen King is no longer writing what I want to read. I quite like Vampires (especially joleene naylor's series) but I think I've done that to death - or undeath.

    Well what do you want to read?
    
    I don't know!!

    I try not to read too much of the genres in which I write in case I accidentally copy them, which leaves me little else.

    Looks like it's back to Len Deighton.



Tuesday, 5 December 2017

So what am I going to do for the next two weeks?

On the basis that I am never ever going to write more than one novel at the same time ever again, I find myself at a loss. I've just finished the latest reincarnation of Sod's Law so I'll leave alone for a fortnight before the next. The new, new novel is waiting for me to recommence but for that reason it'll have to wait.

    About twenty five years ago I read/listened to a hilarious novel by Tom Sharpe entitled Vintage Stuff. It came as about ten extra long cassettes (if you don't know what that means you'll have to ask your granddad. I was about to embark on a journey from the south of France to a ski resort in far off Switzerland, and clearly I couldn't read.

    I began about eight o'clock that night and plugged in the first cassette straight away. For those of you who've driven in the snow (or in fact anywhere in France) you'll know it's a dangerous pastime and even with four wheel drive the journey was long, dangerous and arduous. And cold since it was January and the heater in the Ranger Rover packed up about fifteen minutes after I left.

    After driving all night, avoiding insane driver who didn't have four wheel drive, or a brain for the most part, I arrived at the ski resort with a vehicle packed with all my boss's gear only to find that I was still one whole cassette from finishing the book.

    Even though I was tired beyond belief and frozen solid I couldn't get out of the car until I'd finished it off.

    About a week ago I bought the book for my Kindle to see if it had stood the test of time. It had and nearly cost me my job because I couldn't stop reading it and almost being sick because it was so funny.

    Anyway, this long drawn out passage is just a way of recommending the book for all of you who want a real slice of English comedy. You won't get better and I guarantee you'll love it if farces are your thing.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Death by bubbles.

Excuse my absence for the last few days. In my rare moments of relaxation I just have mess about with my new book. In fact I'm half way through the 247586794937827th edit.

    My wife has always accused me of being tight (mean). I disagree and repost with all the money I've spend on my (alleged) daughter's horses and the new boiler for which I've just indebted myself for the next four years, or the truly enormous bunch of flowers with which I presented her on our thirty fourth anniversary last week.

    Unfortunately I may have been a teensy bit guilty this week.

    As I may have mentioned I eschew the use of a car (mainly because I don't have one) in preference for a motorbike and latterly a scooter. And although it's getting cold - about zero degrees most morning this week- when I ride to work the cold doesn't bother me much since I wear enough coats to make me look like the Michelin man  

    However that doesn't stop my helmet visor from steaming up, and running under a bus can really mess up one's day. So eschewing with equal contempt the local bike's shops exorbitant price for proper visor demister I opted for the old fashioned approach.

    This entails smearing washing liquid over the inside of the visor. Fairy this month because that's what my wife got. After doing that you run clean water over the plastic and it's done. It lasts for about three days and works well.

    Unfortunately on this occasion it didn't. It was raining on Wednesday morning and just as I hastily swung away from a clearly comatose van driver I suddenly lost all vision. Slamming on the brakes and coming to a juddering halt at the side of the road I lifted said visor to wipe away the million or so bubble that had formed and turned the visor completely opaque.

    Now I know what extra-extra soapy means. I think I'll swallow what's left of my pride and head for the bike shop.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

A week of dithering.

I absolutely had to get to grips with ArtRage since it cost me actual money.

    This is what I came up with. A bit cruddy but a start.


    This week, if I get any time, I'm getting back to the writing.
 Sod's Law hasn't come back from my wonderful, fantastic, lovely beta readers yet so I'm continuing with my new one, Snodden. I've come up with an outline meandering towards the ending which is already written in my head.

    Half way through the second chapter I realised with shock that it was turning into a serious book. Couldn't have that. So it's back to a rewrite of the chapter that isn't even finished yet to make it humorous or just plain silly.

    Here's an excerpt of the non silly first version.
The young man stumbled, immediately ducking behind one of the enormous stone pillars in case someone had seen him. It wasn’t the cold or the howling, never ending wind that disturbed him as much as the enormous piles of waste dropped by the eagle sized herring gulls. Somehow the buggers always managed to find a target here in the school pinned in the wilderness between two dales in North Yorkshire. Whoever had built it must have been a nutter for isolation or absolutely insane. Certainly it must have required an especially uncaring parent to sentence their offspring to a hellhole such as this.
    He lingered behind the chipped granite pillar for several more seconds scraping the vile smelling excrement furiously until it was safe to continue. As if chastising him for its own weakness a spirited howl of wind echoed through the gables of the Victorian buildings. He looked up, cringing, almost expecting a tile to crash down. It had happened before. Unfortunately it had not been onto the headmaster, but happily the young recipient had recovered eventually.
    ‘What the hell are you doing here.’ Stanton was not inquiring of the gargoyle glaring down at him. The question was to himself. And it was a good question. 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The single most important question

We all know, or at least those of us with decent literary tastes, that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42. And the way to understand the question and thus the answer is:


(Thanks to Erwin Schrodinger for his attempt to come up with the correct answer.)

But as important as this might seem there is only one real, fundamental question to be asked; and my wife demanded a simple answer at the supermarket today.


    Imagine expecting me to answer that which has confused the most intelligent for millennia, or at least a long time.


    "Well, which?" she demanded, "Daddies, or HP?"


    As if I could solve something that has baffled the real intelligentsia for time immemorial.


    "Well why can't you just have both?"


   Both!!!  Aghast I stumbled away and after bumping into a terrified shelf stocker settled for  ketchup. 



    Women. They'll just never understand.


 
 I realise that this may just be a particular British phenomenon but the unfathomable answer is no less important.

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