Monday, 29 November 2010

Things I'm Writing

I occasionally mention that I'm trying to write lots of things at once (usually shortly before I mention that I have deleted lots of things at once) and I'm doing it again. It's just that this time, I'm determined to keep the files for these projects around so that even if they don't get finished immediately, I can keep coming back to them. I'm currently working on:

  1. The Glass. A man so sadly pathetic that he can only end up as the assistant to a fake psychic gets catapulted into a battle between abandoned angels and the things that live just the other side of the mirror. I'm aiming for funny and creepy in equal parts.
  2. Dave Maccleston: Lord of Darkness. An ordinary bloke ends up taking over a small kingdom of evil when the former overlord dies in a tragic 'messing with the fabric of reality' accident.
  3. Corners. Started life as something about the rather strange city I mentioned in other things, and is due to end up as a merry wandering around all sorts of places.
  4. Grey Knight. A brief meander into the realm of urban faerie stuff that I tried to write once before. William Grey was taken by one of the courts of the fey a couple of centuries back, as one of those people they keep alive while it amuses them. Now, he has to work for their interests in the modern world, while trying to claim back some semblance of humanity and identity. Probably fewer jokes.
  5. A vague idea about dungeon design as a money laundering scheme for the gnomish mafia. Another one I've tried to write before.
As you can see, the ideas get less defined as I go along, but that's mostly just about the attention I'm currently giving each one (and that, of course has to fit around the writing I'm being paid for).

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


  • The Ashes starts tonight, and I imagine I will do what I always do when they are in Australia, which is to stay awake just long enough to watch the first few overs. Here's hoping that they get off to a slightly better start than last time around.
  • A quick trip to one of the local jujitsu clubs has left me rather bruised, partly because I'm fairly prone to small injuries at the best of times, but mostly because I kept losing track of where the floor was when I was supposed to be breaking my fall. I think I also made the mistake of trying to be as hard in style as everyone else there. My few moments of success came when I drifted into something that was more Tai Chi than anything.
  • On the other hand, it has given me an excuse not to fence my club's men's foil competition on Thursday, so I shall be presiding for it instead. It makes more sense anyway, given that I'm supposedly the new club captain.
  • Various books I have ghostwritten are all coming out at once. Obviously, I can't say what they are, but it's nice to see them. One, however, keeps drifting back and back. It's the one where I let the most of my comedy style into the writing, so perhaps that has worried someone.
  • I persist in trying to write lots of things at once, and in working on novel length stuff. Possibly, until I've managed to do something with the three that are already written but unpublished, it might make more sense to work on shorter stuff, but I tend to get carried away.
  • Are there any blogfests around? I seem to have lost touch.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Ashes Build Up

So, England have won their last warm up match before the Ashes begins, and with a slightly weakened side too (the four main bowlers having gone on ahead to Brisbane so as not to be lulled by the different conditions at Hobart). Some things worth paying attention to, therefore:

  • All the pitches for the warm up games have offered movement after a damp start to the Australian summer. Wet weather is set to continue, and the Aussies have to fancy the strength of their own pace attack, so possibly this trend will continue.
  • It does, however, mean that England are likely to continue with their policy of four front line bowlers. Paul Collingwood's medium pace dribblies in the last match also point to that, since they suggest that they will be used to fill in a few overs here and there. Good, until we hit a flat pitch. Then Australia have greater strength in depth, since Michael Clarke, Marcus North and Shane Watson are all effective part timers.
  • Most of England's back up bowling looked good, without being quite good enough to force a way into the main side. Tremlett, Bresnan and Shazad all bowled well, with movement in the mid 80s, but none of them threatened the 90mph mark the way Broad and occasionally Anderson can.
  • Panesar looks to have rediscovered his control, though the price for that seems to have been a slight loss of spin. As usual, the commentators started to suggest that he should bowl slower. Personally, I would much prefer him to rediscover the quicker ball he briefly experimented with, since it tends to be the more dangerous accompaniment to that style of spin.
  • On the batting front, most people have done well in at least one of the warm up games, with Bell and Collingwood getting good runs this time out. Pietersen's woes with left arm spin continue, and seem odd. The ball that got him from O'Keefe pitched on middle and off, straightening just enough to hit off. Had the leg spinner Smith bowled Pietersen surely wouldn't have had a problem with it. Hopefully, it won't prove a difficulty against new left armer Xavier Doherty.
  • Talking of whom, that seems like quite a surprising selection. I'm not offie Nathan Hauritz's biggest fan, but dropping him for the Ashes seems a little harsh, particularly when Doherty and Steve Smith both average around 48 with the ball. If they've brought him in specifically to trouble KP, then doesn't that leave the question of what will happen when he bowls at all the people who don't have a blindspot for slow left armers? Couldn't Michael Clarke do that job?

All in all, it's looking like a closer contest down under than we've had for a few years.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Magical Items the Other Way

Has it really been more than a week since I last posted? Still, as a way back into things, ten magical items that assorted heroes might find at some point. You might recognise a few as favourites of mine:

  1. A sword of general light entertainment. Like role playing's traditional dancing sword, but with a wider skill set.
  2. Gaffer tape of healing. Because Gaffer tape can fix anything.
  3. A drunken sat nav. Because you've got to find that lost city somehow.
  4. A sword of extreme bluntness. What happens to the average vorpal sword after the health and safety people have been in.
  5. A box of random reorganisation. These actually exist. Usually as filing cabinets.
  6. Infinite String. Because some string wants to be longer than the official 31.5cm answer to a pointless question.
  7. A shield of shielding. All right, technically just a shield...
  8. Spectacles of continuous accountancy. This may count as a cursed item, or might just be the only way the average barbarian thief is going to keep track of his or her finances.
  9. The badge of minion making. Before it's attached, they're happy, normal people. Afterwards, they're grumpy, slack jawed and inclined to obey orders with stupid literal mindedness. May be used in our world by certain coffee chains.
  10. A ten foot pole of... well, you tell me what all those ten foot poles are for. There must be some point to them.
Any ideas for other ones? Any that you would particularly like to see included in a story at some point? Any traditional fantasy magical items that have always struck you as annoying and/or silly?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


I came tenth at the Leeds Open, which was only a couple of places off where I suspected I might end up when I saw the direct elimination sheets. I'm slightly annoyed to have lost my first DE match by getting carried away, but since winning it would have run me straight into Mike Berry (who beat the guy who beat me 15-1), it's not like it makes too much difference. I may even have acquired a ranking point or two as a result of the day (but no more than that. I think there were perhaps three people from the top hundred there).

I haven't written much on any personal projects in the last few days, though I'm trying to put together some samples of script writing and biography as an obvious way of expanding my current work. Both seem to be potentially useful areas for ghostwriting, but as always in this game, you need to have already done things before people will let you do things. I suspect it's the same with almost everything.

Friday, 5 November 2010

An acceptance

I've just had a short story accepted for the 'Daughters of Rapunzel' anthology from Pink Narcissus Press, all about what happens after the happily ever after in traditional fairy tales. The anthology is still open to submissions, so head over there to get details.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


One of the slightly awkward bits when writing comic fantasy is describing your main characters when we first meet them. All the normal difficulties of description (not wanting a huge break for a section marked 'this is a description', not producing something bland and repetitive) apply, but at the same time, it has to be made funny. It can be quite tricky to find the perfect similies without making them seem too odd.

One possibility does occur, which is a variation on the old mirror trick. That's the one where the MC happens to check their appearance on the way to something, giving us a chance to see them. To make it funnier, why not go with a magic mirror inclined to give fashion advice?

I've sent a fairy tale inspired piece off to an anthology, all about what happens after the happily ever after, so we'll see what happens with that. It's slightly obsessed with ponds.

On the fencing front, this weekend is the Leeds open. Assuming that I manage to park at some point on the day (Leeds not being terribly helpful in that respect) it should be a fun competition. I did, however, make the classic mistake of checking the entry list against the British rankings, to see where I should be aiming to come. It's an obvious way of taking the whole thing far too seriously.