Sunday 9th October, 2011

It’s been an interesting week. Not quite as interesting as the ancient curse but we’re getting there, if only because the technician who works on my sites has handed in his notice and I’m currently staring down a doubled workload. To counter balance this, I’ve had to fit fourteen unspent holidays into the last quarter of 2011, so I’ll be working four day weeks for the next couple of months or so. I still have two days left over that I haven’t worked out what to do with.

Of course, my weekend started fantastically well because Wales made it through to the semi-finals of the rugby (union) World Cup. Not only that but the game against Ireland was actually worth getting up at six o’clock in the morning for. They will be playing France at the much more reasonable time (for me) of nine am. We’ll ignore the fact that this means the slightly less reasonable time of nine pm for the actual players…

Right, so back to website round-ups. As mentioned last week, I’ve got around to sorting out the swords and wasters I haven’t yet put on site, so that’s:

I’m considering putting a post together with the basic fencing kit (i.e. clothes) that I use, so that you have an idea of what we consider the minimum for the SSSSheffield [External Link]. However, the thought also makes me feel guilty as there’s more kit I need to buy, such as if I ever want to free-play with longsword wasters (aside from the wasters).

I also mentioned some ideas I was working on, didn’t I? Well, I’ve done the first draft of one and I’m looking at another two. I expected them all to be flash ideas and thus suitable for the site but the first one’s gone on a bit longer than expected (by about 2500 words). And, yes, I’m still basically killing time with some small projects while I wait for notes on 25 Ways. I have another long project wanting to be worked on and The Three Guineveres demanding to be let out, but I can’t afford to take them on if those notes are going to turn up soon. Bah!

Sunday 21st August, 2011

Time for a change of pace. Changes to genealogy, swords and writing.

So. Genealogy. Been a while. Which is kind of the point of this week’s diary. It’s highly unlikely I’m going to get back into my family history any time soon, so I’m taking down the family pages next week. This is just advance warning to anyone who may come this way and an excuse to extend my thank-yous to the genealogy community. And, guys, you have been great. You have been endlessly helpful, endlessly communicative with someone who has struggled to keep up with you, endlessly patient with my mistakes.

While I know that the people we research do not go anywhere, and don’t resent being abandoned, I figured the best thing to do was to take down the section because the way the data is put together does change. For those who have never done any family history research, it’s hard to explain the thrill of putting together what is effectively a four dimensional jigsaw puzzle – that probably doesn’t have a “right” way of being put together based on the amount of information available. There’s definitely no picture on the box. Even the first hand data you think you know, like your own parents and siblings, can be sadly mistaken in the wrong circumstances (just watch a Jeremy Kyle show for about 5 seconds). Basically, as I’m not reviewing the information I display on this site or doing further research, it’s being left behind, an outdated snapshot. I’ve been told I have been spreading misinformation a couple of times over the decade or so, and warned to watch out for it, but I’m not putting in the time. Which means what is held on this site could effectively be a lie and I wouldn’t know it.

So, again, thank you to everyone who has helped me in the questing years, provided me with transcriptions, advice, leads, maps. I apologise for those times when my own help hasn’t been of the same calibre and “bless you” to those for whom it has. If anyone would like copies of my data, please GET IN TOUCH and we’ll work it out from there.

In the swords section, I’ve started putting up events. Some of these I’ll be attending, some I can’t go to for whatever reason. I’m simply putting them up here so that you can see what’s going on and get them a bit more publicity. Speaking of publicity, don’t forget to visit the shared SSS website [External Link]. If you’re interested in historical fencing and near either, please drop us a line. Correct contact details for the SSS Sheffield club are avaiable through the official website.

And my main time sink (outside of work and Finn): writing. I have four sections to go until the end of Arthur on the Wall, or Part I of The Three Guineveres, assuming no extra bits and pieces needed by characters. I know I need to go back and rewrite at least a couple of them, though. That said, I expect to be finishing off draft one by the end of the month. Then I need to farm it out to check it’s worth carrying on with the other two parts. (Any victims willing volunteers?) Then it’s back to 25 Ways to Kill a Werewolf and redrafting.

Sunday 7th August, 2011

Same old same old.

Let’s start with the reminder about the new shared SSS website [External Link]. The information for the Durham and Sheffield chapters are up and running. If you’re interested in historical fencing and near either, please drop us a line.

Yes, these means I haven’t really done much this week. Just the usual work, write and walk the dog. The main writing project is still Part I of The Three Guineveres – with no interruptions from short stories, this week! Battle ten has gone and the action is working its wa up to battle eleven. The Shhh! project didn’t pass through to the next stage of the competition and I’m not sure what to do with it from now. But that goes with all of the “secret” projects because they’re all in areas totally outside of my usual speculative fiction area. If it can be called “usual” when I’m barely published!

Right, off to go read through The Bull of Essylt. See you next week.

Sunday 31st July, 2011

The three week silence is broken.

Not that I wasn’t around. I’ve even been talking to people on Facebook [External Link], Google+ [External Link] and Twitter [External Link]. As well as in real life. Well, I think I’ve been talking to people. I have vague memories of working during the week.

About a fortnight ago was my dad’s birthday and my present was tickets for “Twelfth Night” as performed by Illyria [External Link] at Nostell Priory [External Link], yesterday. This was the third time we’ve been to watch an Illyria production (Three Musketeers in 2009, Pride and Prejudice in 2010) and we enjoyed it again but they didn’t half rattle through Shakespeare! Not one to do unless you’re already familiar with the language, we decided.

The new shared SSS website: [External Link], has the SSSSheffield information up, so – if you’re interested and in the area – let us know!

The suggestion of my own site redesign is still sitting in the back of my head. I’m reluctant to take on any major work for a while but I might slot it in between big writing projects. I’m still tapping away at Part I of The Three Guineveres, my current big project. I’ve got through battle nine of the sequence of twelve and there are some other story arc bits to throw in and / or correct. Once I have Part I drafted out, I think I’ll ask for some beta readers for it and work on redrafting of 25 Ways to Kill A Werewolf – pending a bit more feedback.

As for short works and minor projects: I haven’t heard back from the Shhh! project and I would have heard Friday if I was invited to the next stage, so that hasn’t worked! Beaumains, the kind of noir thing, went out under its working title – and no news yet. And I’ve been putting together a piece currently titled The Bull of Essylt. Again, anyone who knows their Arthuriana probably knows the inspiration. I’m running into a lot of bits and pieces while doing the background work on The Three Guineveres that doesn’t fit into that version but gives me intriguing ideas.

Sunday 27th February, 2011

What was I doing again?

It’s one of those times when work seems to be a bit manic. Basically my work has several annual reporting periods – to the Environment Agency [External Link] no less – and February is the time get the Pollution Inventory stuff together and put into their online forms. No further comment on the reporting process / the EA / work. Well, for today, anyway.

As I type this, I’m also waiting for some buns to finish baking. Not a euphemism. I’ve been working on what I now call my “bitter orange” recipe, i.e. buns for growed ups, for the last few weeks but have a niece-friendly version in the oven to take round for the family dinner. The adult version involves dark chocolate chips, orange rind and grated root ginger, none of which she likes. Still, she’s only four / almost five, so she’s got plenty of time to develop some taste!

And the bit you’ve all been waiting for, I’m sure. 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf (see the Alex Jones’ page) is almost complete, at least in first draft form. I have the last werewolf to slay and am also gradually working through the notes from my alpha reader, Foxie [External Link]. Which means I shall soon need beta readers – and preferably quick readers, at that, in order to have something I can submit to the Angry Robot Books’ [External Link] open submissions (March 31st deadline). If you have time and are interested, send me a DM or a message (from whatever online platform you choose).

My 6 Nations Rugby weekend summary:

  1. Yay for the Welsh!
  2. Dammit, I wanted the French to win!
  3. Come on the Irish (in a few minutes)!
  4. /

Sunday 16th January, 2011

Are we there yet?

As said previously, January is the annual review period at work. So. January continues. Report writing continues. Enough about work.

Outside of work news, I’m now about half way through the first draft of 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf (set in the Alex Jones’ world, though not with her in it). According to my copy of OpenOffice ([External Link]), I have 145 pages with 32,325 words on them. And my heroine (currently named Elkie Bernstein, not sure why that name occurred to me) has 12 more werewolves to send to the here-after. Yes, the plot does more or less exactly what it says on the tin. Well, discounting the fact that life is that thing that happens while you’re out killing werewolves and life keeps kicking poor Elkie in the… Actually, that’s not going to work, she doesn’t have the right anatomy. Will “stomach” do you? Anyway, I’m still aiming to finish and submit to Angry Robot Books [External Link] by the end of March. The wordage is going to need steroids and some serious workouts before I get there but I shall try.

I’m out at a couple of friends’ wedding next so the update next week will probably be on Monday (24th). Believe it or not, this will actually be my first trip North of the border to Scotland. Considering that I used to live in Cumbria (and one of my ex-sites was just 7 miles South of the border), my lack of adventure in Scotland is just shocking.

Well, see you next week.

Sunday 9th January, 2011

Pottering away in the background. Yeah, I know that’s all I ever do.

Have you noticed how most people around you go through life like swans (ducks / geese / insert swimming bird of choice). Everyone else seems to look calm enough and is if they’re barely doing any work but, underneath, they’re also paddling along like fury to stay afloat. Or maybe icebergs would be a better analogy because no-one wants to get caught up in the work that really goes on underneath!

So, what’s my point. Not a lot really. I’m busy with “real” work for January (and a few months afterwards) as the annual review season opens – which means lots and lots of non-fiction writing that will never be appreciated by anybody, least of all the unnamed report author. And because I like a challenge, I want to get 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf (set in the Alex Jones’ world, though not with her in it) finished and up to submission standard by the end of March. Why? Well, not just because I like a challenge. Angry Robot Books [External Link] will be having an open submission month in March. Like many of my writing friends, acquaintances and, dare I say, colleagues, I’ve decided to have a crack at it. And you guys won’t see any of this in terms of web-site updates.

Well, 13 more werewolves to kill so I’d better get back to work! See you next week.

Sunday 5th December, 2010

I’m in an advent calendar! Am I famous, yet?

Welcome to Advent – or the fifth day of it, as I write this. Yes, I really do write this on the same day as it’s dated, if only if I’m too lazy to do it the night before.

The writing news first. Parthenogenesis, one of my stories available on site, is being used in the TTA Press advent calendar [External Link]. You don’t need to go there to link to the story but if you haven’t read the other stories so far, I strongly recommend it. The collection of links can be found here: [External Link]. They also have an alternative advent calendar that can be printed out here: [External Link].

I’ve pretty much been house-bound since the last update. Finn and I have made it out walking near to home but I’ve been banned from sitework and my local office was snowed in for a couple of days, so I’ve been working from home the last week. And I do mean working from home. It’s been… quiet.

And genealogy isn’t quite working as intended. I can’t get the reports back in the same format (yet), so the minor tweaks to the SANSOM data and the “Alternative” TABERNER line will be up next week.

Sunday 19th September, 2010

A web-site tweak or two and life / writing update.
(Oh, and happy talk like a pirate day! Yarrr!)

The first thing you may notice is that the Swords section has disappeared. In the offline period, I realised that I don’t really hold a lot of information in it so the section itself is fairly pointless. My interest continues (where time allows me to attend the weekly classes) so I’ve moved some of the words to the About Me page. The fact that I have just received a rather shiny Pappenheimer from Armour Class [External Link] should show that my enthusiasm hasn’t waned. I’ll take some photos and show it off next week.

Time is, of course, the important thing about this week’s diary entry. Anyone and everyone knows how difficult it can be finding time for everything one wants to do. It’s a struggle fitting everything in at times. Other things that have fallen by the wayside in the offline / moving period have been World of Warcraft – which I am unlikely to start up again – and Blacksmithing – which I hope to get back to when things have settled down. The former has been removed from the About Me page and the latter is staying there as a note-to-self. (“Book definite time at the forge! Go!”)

Juggling time demands also holds my writing back. I’m fairly content to view it as a hobby – I like having a roof over my head, etc, and I’m not going to be financially successful at writing any time soon, so it’s definitely not my main focus. Not to mention that I actually like my job. At times I love it. But writing is something I need to do to clear my mind – a weird sort of therapy as I can’t generally write about what’s on my mind. I generally find I need to write about those weird ideas that sit in the back of my skull going “Yeah, but what if…?” Which is why I write speculative fiction. With concentrating on moving house, putting my work-life in order and looking after Finn (and doing my best to help my lovely sister, but you don’t want to know about that), I haven’t actually had the brain-space to have these thoughts so writing has effectively been on hold for at least a month, now. You may have realised, if you’ve been reading the diary entries, that I was struggling for a while before that to fit it all in. I’m on holiday for a week from tomorrow, though, so I hope to be able to get some more writing time in. I managed to get 4000 words down yesterday – but they’re actually on my non-speculative fiction work. My confession / unveiling of what I have been working on will have to wait for another time (there it is again).

Next week, I should have a TABERNER update from information I’ve been gathering since my return to the Internet. It will also be Finn’s birthday party next weekend, so more incriminating photos once we’ve decided on a theme for the kids. My sister’s suggestion of pirates appears to be winning.

Sunday 9th May, 2010

Continuing to plug Coyote Con [External Link], a political aside and some minor life-organising.

Coyote Con [External Link], the “First Annual 31 Day Digital Author Conference”, continues throughout the month of May. I attended yesterday (last night for the afternoon session as I’m on BST while the servers are on EST – I think) and will be attending tonight. Transcripts of the sessions are also being posted on their blog. It’s worth taking a look at to see what came up in conversation. As mentioned last week, one of the key forces behind the conference is the cast and crew of the good ship Drollerie Press [External Link], who also deserve a look in. (And I’m on their forums so please say “Hi!”)

For those of you who are a) not British, b) not aware of British politics or c) living under a rock, you may not know or care that we just had a General Election. Suffice it to say that we have a rather archaic vote counting system here in the UK and there are a number of people – myself included – who are not happy with it (“Take Back Parliament” [External Link]). If you’re interested in what it’s like to be a(n apparently lily-livered) Liberal in the UK, Dylan Fox [External Link] made some interesting posts on working out how to use his vote during the process and some commentary since. How does this change my life? Unfortunately, not a lot.

The next point: the About Me page has been rewritten slightly. The catalyst for this is a change in job description: I’ve gone from being a Leachate Technician (which I’m not going to explain) to Closed Sites Technical Manager (ditto) covering South Yorkshire. All within the same company, Waste Recycling Group (or WRG) [External Link]. I’m also in the process of buying a house for the first time, so expect to see disruption to update schedules in the next few months – once I have a moving date and actually have to do something!

And a quick update on how my projects are going:

  1. 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf

    2 werewolves down, 23 to go.

  2. The Three Guineveres

    Part the 1st: 1 battle down, 12 to go.

  3. Not going to tell you!

    You know, I shouldn’t be teasing you about a project I’m not talking to you about…