Two Projects

It’s been a while since I posted…

Things have been kinda hectic. Again. So this is just a short post, to say that I’m currently working on two projects in parallel:

The first is the Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia sequel that I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. That one’s going a little slower than I’d like, mostly because it’s so long since I wrote the timeline, it’s actually a bit difficult to work out the story.

That sounds weird so let me put it another way. Start with a story – any story. As you tell it, everything fits in place, right? Something happens, and that leads to the next thing that happens, and it all makes sense. There’s a overall Big Picture – a beginning, middle, and end, and the things that happen – the scenes – are the bricks that make up the story as a structure.

Now take that set of scenes and stick it on a shelf for three years, then look at it again. At first, all you see is… a set of scenes. No continuity – it’s as if you can’t see the thread of the original story; it’s hidden away behind the scenes.

That’s kind of where I am with that. It’s as if I’ve forgotten the Big Picture of the original story and I’m having to reconstruct it from the individual bricks of the scenes in the timeline. At this moment I’m reading and re-reading the timeline scenes to get my head around the Big Picture. Once I’ve got that clear in my mind, things should go along much faster.

The second project is a screenplay…


I’ve written a handful of screenplays, but it’s been a long time since I did one (I just checked… the last one I did was in 2006). Something I was reading a couple of weeks back got me thinking about screenplays again, and suddenly I felt the urge to do another one. My old screenwriting software died when I “upgraded” the old laptop to Windows 10 (“All Your Software Is Compatible!“*) so the first thing I had to do was find a new program for that, and I ended up getting Fade In.

At the moment I’m working on the timeline of the story, which is a Science Fiction thing (as you can probably tell from that title: Box Made of Gravity). That’s coming along nicely and I expect to be able to start actually writing a spec script in another couple of weeks.

It occurred to me that I could/should create a new site page with the PDF versions of those old screenplays… they’re WGA registered, after all, but at the moment the only place anyone can find them is on the Zoetrope web site. So I’ll be doing that sometime soon. Watch this space.

snarky reference to the earlier post about Microsoft

Gunn & Bohemia: The Sequel

If all goes to plan I’ll have three – count’em, three – books coming out in 2018. Exciting times!

The Artemis Device* is under contract and currently undergoing copy editing. That’s been slow going, but I’m hoping that the pace will pick up now that the holidays are behind us.

Phantasms & Magicks* has been submitted to my publisher and I’m waiting to hear if they want to take it on. Fingers crossed, but if they decide they’re not interested I’ll almost certainly self-pub. Either way there’s no reason it can’t be out there this year.

Last but far from least, Britannia One* – the sequel to Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia – is at the writing phase; I expect to have a first draft completed around the end of April, which could put publication somewhere around October**.

There’s a little bit of a story behind Britannia One. I actually started work on a sequel in 2014, not long after G&B was published. Then, life happened. We moved house, which threw writing work into a tailspin for a while. On top of that, while I thought the story I’d developed was pretty good, I wasn’t happy with the timeline. So for various reasons I put it to one side.

I decided a couple of weeks ago that I was ready to pick up from where I’d left off. For some reason I was under the impression that I’d stopped somewhere in the middle of developing the timeline.

So I was pretty surprised when, just the other day, I went back and reviewed what I had. The timeline was done; not quite correct – it needs a couple of changes – but complete. I had a line drawing of a map showing the area where most of the story takes place. Not only that, but there were two first-draft chapters already written. What was most surprising was that, until I looked at it, I’d completely forgotten that I’d got that far.

That’s why work on it is already at the writing phase, when I hadn’t mentioned anything about the prep work here; all the groundwork is already done. I just need to tweak the timeline a little bit, and I want to make a couple of changes to the supporting characters. That’ll take a day or so, then I can start pounding keys.

I’m planning to post regular updates here as the work goes along. Watch this space.

* working titles

** total guesswork

Hey, @Microsoft: Where Do I Send The Bill?

Windows 10 finally rendered my laptop unusable, except maybe as a doorstop.

Just switching from Windows 7 to 10 was a big mistake. At the time, Microsoft kept pushing me to switch to Win10 (“All your Hardware and Software is compatible! Go on, do it while it’s free!”) to the point where I basically did it just to stop the incessant messages.

As it turned out after the fact, not all my hardware and software was compatible. The touch pad stopped working, but that was a minor thing because I don’t use it much. And a new driver did come along after a while, and it started working again. The big thing was the DVD drive, which disappeared from the device list and never came back; it’s an older unit and it turned out that Sony has no intention of ever releasing a Win10 driver for it, so that’s that.

On the software front, my video editing software doesn’t run any more; neither does PaintShop Pro. I fiddled with compatibility settings, did a little googling for solutions, but nothing worked. I ended up downloading for image editing, so at least I can do my picture work, but video editing is a lost cause.

Compatible? Really, Microsoft?


The latest (“Creators”) update was the last straw. The machine just couldn’t cope with it any more. Chrome has stopped working; it fires up and opens tabs but after a few seconds it freezes and stops responding to clicks. Reinstalling makes no difference.

Now the machine won’t shut down or restart cleanly – it sits at the spinner and eventually the only thing to do is hold the power button until it switches off. I hate to think what that does to the file system. I left it overnight one time, to see if it ever finished, but it was still sitting at the “Shutting Down” spinner eight hours later.

The thing is, the machine is my workhorse. It’s what I use for most of my writing and all of my editing, because it’s where I have Word installed. I need Chrome because I use Google Drive to back up my files and share work with my editor. Without Chrome, I can’t do much. And since the machine is now so compromised, I can’t trust it not to corrupt my Word documents – so I haven’t done any writing work since the “update”.

In the end I decided I had no other option but to buy a new machine and retire the old one. It took a while to install all the software I use on a regular basis, and several hours to move all my documents and stuff from the old machine, but it’s all done now.

But here’s the point: I wouldn’t have had to spend all the time and money if it hadn’t been for Windows 10, and Microsoft’s “alternative facts” about compatibility.

So, Microsoft, I’m out of pocket and it’s all because of you. Thanks for that. Where do I send the bill?

Back From Vac and Nothing Has Changed

I’ve been bad. It’s been over a month since I posted anything here.

Worse, I’ve done hardly anything at all on the writing front since right after Thanksgiving. Not a damned thing, unless you count a hastily scribbled note with an idea for a short story. I really needed an actual, honest-to-goodness vacation, and I made a point of getting one. That included not doing any writing work beyond the relaxing kind (i.e. thinking about writing). Instead I’ve been watching a lot of TV and playing games (including playing World of Warcraft for the first time since 2014—if you play, and happen to be on Cairne and see a level 64 Paladin in Zangarmarsh, say Hi).

I did do one thing related to writing: I made a decision about my next project. The As-Yet-Untitled SFF Project? Nope. What about that story idea I mentioned in the last post—you know, the one I mentioned that started off as a short story idea but mushroomed into a full length novel? Not that either. I’m not abandoning those; just putting them on the back burner for a while I attack something else that I need to do first. And that’s all I’m saying about it for now. I’ll update when I have something a bit more concrete to say.

But back to the point of this post, as hinted at by the title. What started off as a few days away from social media over Thanksgiving turned into a month or more away from it, spanning Christmas and New Year. And I don’t regret it that much, either. Honestly, Twitter and (especially) Facebook can get more than a little toxic in large doses. Or even small doses, now that I think about it. Being off the things for a few weeks has been cleansing.

But the downside is that I didn’t realise just how much social media has become the first source for daily news. As a result, I really only found out some important things when I started tracking Twitter again. Notably, Trump and the rest of the gang of criminals are still not in prison. Yeah, I know: just getting rid of one turd won’t help when the whole steaming pile needs to be flushed, and that’s going to take time (I imagine the stack of indictments that Mueller and his team are building up must be pretty damned huge by now, and growing daily). But I was kinda hoping for some good news by now. C’est la vie.

The one good piece of news—which isn’t really news to anyone, actually—is that come the midterms anyone who stands with Trump as he sells the country to a foreign power, empowers bigots and sex criminals, condones violence, tears up the constitution he vowed to protect, etc., etc., is going to have a tough time staying in office. Names are being taken; this will all be remembered when the time comes.

Although I don’t know that the country can stand to wait until November to see Trump dragged out of the White House and into the Big House. Every day that passes sees more damage, more erosion, and the longer it goes on the harder it’s going to be to fix. What worries me most is that there might be a point of no return, where the damage is so bad that there’s no fixing it. That’s a horrible thought.

Right, that’s enough of the depressing stuff. Lunch break is over, and I need to get back to work.

Until next time…


Thanksgiving week meant all my time went to family things: cooking and cleaning mostly, but a lot else besides.

I took the week (actually more like ten days) off from pretty much everything else. I was already behind with my self-imposed schedule of posting here at least once a week, so that took another hit, and I deliberately avoided social media – as a result, I have pretty much no idea of what’s been going on in the news. The only thing I’ve used any computer for in the last few days has been playing games (The Talos Principle and Sir, You Are Being Hunted) and watching Netflix (I watched Cloud Atlas and Rogue One yesterday – the first pause all week where I was able to sit down and relax properly for a few hours).

Starting today, I’m getting wound back into the world. I took a few minutes earlier to send an email to my editor-in-chief to ask if there’s any news about the status of copy-editing on The Artemis Device, and whether she’s accepting Phantasms & Magicks for publication, and also to update a couple of pages on this site. I caught up a little bit with Twitter (and learned that Rance Howard died yesterday) and Mastodon (which I just started using a couple of weeks ago).

On the actual writing front, I’m planning on splitting the rest of today between doing some timeline work on the Untitled SF Project, and also writing a few notes for another project idea that I had a few days ago (it started as a short story idea, but as I thought about it it became bigger to the point where I think it’s likely to end up being a full-length novel).

On that note, I need to wrap this up; I have a couple of errands to run (the first time I’ll have left the house in three days) and then I want to get on that writing work.

Until next time…


It’s that time of year again. The month when many writers do their damndest (is that a word?) to slam out fifty thousand words in just thirty days.

I’m not even going to try. Not that I wouldn’t if I could spare the time, but I can’t. Fifty thousand words in thirty days means averaging almost two thousand words a day. That’s perfectly doable – but only if I took a month off the day job. Trying to pull a nine-hour day (that’s my average, Monday to Friday) then follow up with several hours’ writing (for that’s how long it would likely take me to get a couple of thousand words out) would kill me in less than a week, probably.

And there’s the prep work I’d have to do ahead of time. I can’t just spout out a story, you see. I must have a plan. (If you’ve seen my book Finish Your Book you’ll know something of the planning I do before the first words are committed to paper or pixels.) And given that it usually takes me around three months to go from first ideas to a completed scene-by-scene timeline, I’d have to start prepping around the beginning of August to be ready to start the actual writing on November 1. And that would cut into work on other projects, and I can’t afford for that to happen. Those other projects are just too important to put to one side.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that you, dear reader (and writer) shouldn’t have a go. I’d never try to stop a writer from writing, ever.

But I won’t be doing it. Not this year, at least.

Not The Droid I’m Looking For


My Chromebook had an OS upgrade last night, and when it rebooted it tooks pains to tell me that I can now install Android apps on it. In fact, it went ahead and installed a couple for me. Great! I thought, I can run my favourite Android apps. Then I thought again. This morning I thought about it some more. Then I flipped the switch to disable it.

Don’t get me wrong. I really like Android. I have an Android phone and an Android tablet, and they’re terrific.

But the thing is this: all the apps I really need on the Chromebook are already there. And the only Android apps that I could possibly want would only duplicate Chrome apps I already have. For example I don’t need the Google+ Android app because I already have the Chrome app for that. The same goes for the Google productivity apps (Docs, Sheets. etc.), Netflix, Twitter, and so on.

And then there’s the screen-size question. Many Android apps are designed to run on small, portrait-layout screens as found on phones and tablets; I read that many just don’t scale well to a full-size (well, laptop-size, at least) landscape-layout screen.

So I switched it off. I really don’t need another Android platform, at least not right now. If it turns out that there’s an app I really need on the Chromebook, and there’s only an Android version of that app, I’ll take another look. But right now I just don’t have a use for it.