Friday, 30 January 2009

Another deadline, workshop bliss and a blatant facebook plug

Earlier this month I mentioned a gargantuan to-do list for 2009, which I peer at from time to time in the hope that a tick will magically appear beside one or two items.

Number one priority was to get the second draft of The Manx Giant completed, at which point it will go to the publisher for feedback. The aim was January 31, into which we have just slipped, so that's gone. But this week I informed the publisher that it will be with him by February 15, so deadline city here we come. I've booked a week's leave, giving me nine straight days off work prior to the deadline, so I won't have any excuses not to get it polished off.

Before all that, tomorrow offers up the chance to experience that all too rare a beast - a day's solid, uniterrupted writing. The writing group has booked a room in the Erin Arts Centre for a 9am-5pm workshop. Us writers, our laptops, a steady supply of hot brews and only the sound of busy fingers tapping away. Bliss.

Elsewhere on that list, I was hoping to have the website for Nemesis Publishing up and running by now, but that too has been a slow mover. A start has been made, including setting up the blog, but it's a week or two away from being ready.

Another item on the list has changed - the two collaborative script ideas have been shelved for now, and we're working on an idea for a TV serial. Early doors, but we believe the potential is strong in this one...

And so to the final goal on the list - to lose two stone by the time I creak to the age of 40 in April next year. Four weeks gone, and half a stone has been shed. Which feels mighty fine. As an advertising slogan spotted by a work colleague recently suggests, nothing tastes as good as slim feels. And when I'm slim, I'll find out.

Finally, a google alert informed me that, in terms of number of fans/readers, this blog - which falls under the headers of publishing, writing and books - stands at number 22 in the top 50 'publishing' networked blogs through facebook, which came as a pleasant surprise.

Sadly, my total of 26 facebook readers is some way behind the leader, who has 160-0dd, and I don't make the top 5o in either 'books' or 'writing'.

A couple of fellow Litopians are just ahead of me in the publishing list - Emma is 18th and David an impressive 10th. I hate to admit it, but the competitive streak in me is rearing its ugly head. If you've had one of those annoying facebook requests to access networked blogs and join the gang, and haven't bothered, take pity on me. Add the blog. Push me up that list. You'll be rewarded in the next life, I'm sure of it. And I might even buy you a beer if I see you in the pub.

If you've not had a request to join, blame facebook. I can never figure out who has had invites to join and who hasn't.

This week John is reading:

Mort, by Terry Pratchett (again)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Adventures in Podcasting

So, I've been roped in again as a guest panellist on the Litopia After Dark podcast this Friday. And the lovely Eve, the Litopia podcast officer, has talked me into appearing on a (roughly) monthly basis. I say talked, but I didn't have to think twice about the offer.

Litopia supremo and literary agent Peter Cox produces two podcasts - Litopia Daily, a Monday to Friday 15-minute fix of writing and publishing news, and the 45-minute-long, chatshow-style After Dark, which goes out live at 8.00pm (Isle of Man mean time). Peter then removes the hmms and ers, applies a bit of spit and polish, and posts them on Litopia for download.

I felt incredibly out of my depth on my first LAD appearance - the regular panellists, Donna and Dave, made it seem effortless and I just muttered away in the hope that something worthwhile escaped my lips. I can only assume it did, because Eve has asked me back on a few occasions in times of need.

It's a bizarre experience - the podcasting is done via Skype and to be sat at home with a headset on, staring at a screen, watching Peter in London and talking to the other panellists around the world (Donna's a Florida gal, who provides the essential The Write Report) is almost too much for my limted techie skills to comprehend.

If you have any kind of interest in the world of writing. books and publishing and haven't listened in yet, I urge you to give both the daily and LAD a whirl. (Not when I'm on, of course, wait until they've got someone decent...)

LAD is usually funny, often irreverent and occasionally insightful, and more often than not all three. It's humbling to be asked to appear and I'm looking forward to learning more from the masters, D&D, Litopia's answer to Eric and Ernie.

Elsewhere, work continues on edits for The Manx Giant, which is slowly but surely coming together. I've been sorting through some photographs I've taken, which I'm hoping will appear in the book, and might post a few in the coming weeks, along with a more in-depth look at the larger-than-life Arthur Caley.

Right, I'm off to bed to try and not think about the fact that Friday night's podcast will be listened to by 21,000+ people around the world...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Tip, you're it.

Hmm. I've been tagged, it seems. Not once, but four times. At least. At last count, Donna, Emma, Richard and Kate have all tagged me. Should I take that as some kind of compliment? Ah, why not. Cheers folks...

So this is how it works: Display the award. Link back to the person who gave you this award. Nominate at least 7 other blogs. Put those blogs on your blog. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you've nominated. You can only answer in one word.

So here goes:

1. Where is your cell phone? Desk
2. Where is your significant other? Bed
3. Your hair colour? Brown
4. Your mother? Remarkable
5. Your father? Cool
6. Your favourite thing? Children
7. Your dream last night? Nothing
8. Your dream/goal? Published
9. The room you’re in? Study
10. Your hobby? Writing
11. Your fear? Dying
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Alive
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. What you’re not? Tall
15. One of your wish-list items? Castle
16. Where you grew up? Isle of Man
17. The last thing you did? Brew
18. What are you wearing? T-shirt
19. Your TV? Pants
20. Your pet? Cats
21. Your computer? Dell
22. Your mood? Content
23. Missing someone? Yes
24. Your car? Honda
25. Something you’re not wearing? Make-up
26. Favourite store? Book
27. Your summer? Short
28. Love someone? Passionately
29. Your favourite colour? Black
30. When is the last time you laughed? Tonight
31. Last time you cried? August

And I will tag...

The problem is that everyone is tagging the same people. So I'll try and be a bit different, as this is all about generating a bit of traffic...

Ady, Kelly and the entire NAMA, Pippa, Eve and the Vulpes Libris gang, Brian... and that's about all the blogs that I can think of who've not been tagged so far.

Have fun.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

2009 and the Big List From Hell

The beauty about taking a break from writing is that you come back feeling you’re invincible, positively buzzing in the knowledge that the items on the to-do list will be rattled off in machine gun fashion.

The reality, of course, is somewhat different. That list, which was already depressingly long, has only got longer in your absence and you haven’t got the first damn clue where to start.

So, back in the saddle after some fine festive fun in London and Norwich visiting Emma’s folks, it’s time for that list.

The 2009 to-do list*.

The following is most definitely not in the order in which they will be completed, but rather the order of importance, which, by the Quirky rules of procrastination, means anything is likely:

1. Send The Manx Giant to publisher. First draft is completed, work on second draft to start tomorrow, anticipated to be ready by January 31. Publication due for late 2009.

2. Finishing touches to young adult novel, working title Quackenbush, polish submission package and start hitting agents. Submissions to start April/May.

3. Finish text for Nemesis Publishing website, and set up associated blog, which will be a warts-and-all look at getting a small publishing business off the ground from scratch. Website and blog should be up and running by mid-January.

4. Publish first edition of Vertigo short story anthology through Nemesis. Currently working with authors on edits for selected stories, publication due November 2009.

5. Once Quackenbush is out doing the rounds, launch into next novel, the working title for which is Mr Stone. Aim is to have first draft of this completed by end of the year.

6. Complete a batch of short stories and submit to magazines/anthologies/competitions. I’ve never focused on the short story format, but looking forward to the challenge.

7. Develop script ideas – three in the melting pot, including two collaborations. Would like to have first drafts of two of the three finished by the time we’re singing Auld Lang Syne again.

8. Lose two stone in weight. No, I won’t be cutting off a leg. A daunting peek at the scales on Dec 31 told me I was the heaviest I’ve ever been, period. With the big four oh just 15 months away, I want to be down to my fighting weight by April 4, 2010. Hitting 40 is going to be challenging enough for my state of mind without looking like this. Two days in, and two pounds have been shed. So two stone should be a piece of cake, then. Hmm, cake...

There you have it – the magnificent eight. In addition, I've got a raft of freelance articles to write (first one finished yesterday) and front page stories to write over at Litopia.
If I can achieve all these goals during the coming 12 months, I’ll be stunned. But it’s going to be fun trying.

I’m off to lie in bed and wonder what I’ve missed off the list.

Happy New Year folks, and I hope it’s a good one for everyone – particularly those writers among you.


(*I reserve the right to throw my toys out of the pram and alter or delete any of the items on said list.)