Saturday, 14 May 2016

Two posts in a year? By jingo!

No, I'm as surprised as you that I have something to say more than once in a year.

Anyhoo, first things first. Come the 28th of May, point your Kindles and other electronic reading doohickeys at Kzine where you will find me getting a story published in their Issue 15. I am deeply pleased that they have chosen to publish my story about the apocalypse, the food chain and Scottish West Coast holidays. It's called More Certainty In Your Shopping and sits alongside some fine other stories. I hope you enjoy.

In other excitable news, I've just had my story accepted for the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle Anniversary Anthology. The circle, who have to read early drafts of all my nonsense, are thirty years old this year and to celebrate are bringing out an anthology of stories by authors who have, at some point, been members. It will feature stories from the likes of Neil Williamson, Bill King, Hal Duncan, Gary Gibson and Louise Welsh, which does make me wonder how I got in.
Very excited to be in this and fear not, I'll be going on about it for long and weary when it comes out in the autumn.

I think we can safely say I like May. The sun is out, the flowers are blooming, the barbeque is on and I can pretend I am a real writer for a while.

UPDATE: Bus-like, more news appears. If you will be at Satellite 5 this weekend, why not come along to the reading at 8 on Saturday night. Lots of excellent stuff will be read and it very much like like I'll be joining in. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Past Does Not Watch Over Us

It is with great delight that I can point to my latest published short story, now available in e-book format in The Speculative Book

It's a story on education, black holes and fighting your parents. It also mentions pakora and features REAL SCIENCE. (I know, I must be mad) as I originally wrote it to celebrate 100 years of General Relativity.

I hope you enjoy it. The rest of the book looks fascinating.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

2015, the Year of the Long Wait

Merry seasonal whatnots.

It's been a quieter year in the writing way. One story on god management published back in May and a lot of writing.
One of the points of note this year has been the nearlies. I always like to assume that if a story is considered for a long time before it gets rejected, then it can't have been all bad. This year I've had a number that have spent months under consideration, one, in fact, has been with a market for seven months. I queried them and was told they were interested but still to choose. So good, but don't ever expect writing to be a quick route to happiness.

A large part of this year has gone on my novel. This is the first one I have taken beyond a first draft and I've been at it, on and off, for four years. I've now reached the point where I don't think I can do anymore for it (it can be better, but I don't think I'm helping) so I'm going to explore the world of novel rejection next year with it. That should be exciting.

Other things I have planned for next year include trying to get into the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle 30th anniversary anthology, starting on a new novel (I'm thinking spaceships and binmen), and hopefully two publications. I have allegedly been accepted for appearances in the Speculative Bookshop anthology (out in January) and Kzine (somewhere around April) if all goes to plan.

I shall annoy you about them at the time, have no fear.

Now, as is becoming a Christmas tradition, I'll link to something I've written. In this case, something that sprang from a lot of cinema serials I used to watch.
The Greatest Rocketman

Monday, 20 April 2015

Agnes, a Fairy

I've just spoted that Hysterical Realms, the latest Alternate Hilarities anthology containing my story, is available for buying on the internets here

If you chipped in to the Kickstarter for this then thank you very much but if not and you fancy giving it a look then it is available in both Kindle and the infinitely more signable Paperback formats.

Suppose I better get my finger out and sell another story now so I can have ths excitement again.

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Modern World of Book Selling

It's been eighteen months but I now get to say I have a new story coming out. Hurrah!
Called "Agnes, A Fairy" it is a story of gods, management and dodgy art. On the Grim Whim scale this is firmly on the Whim end. It sprang from a conversation following a Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle meeting and is not the only story to come out of that night. You should check out Cameron Johnston (@CamJohnston) for his interpretation of the same seed.

The new thing for me about this story is that it is part of an anthology available through a Kickstarter campaign. This means that I have no idea how much I might, or might not, get paid for my wee story until the bids are in and will lead to me obsessively  refreshing the campaign page for the next month to see if anything is happening.

The campaign is available here and runs until the 15th of March which, coincidentally, is my birthday. If you want to wish me a happy birthday, why not buy a book.

If you do buy, hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

2014, The Year Of Not So Much

It's time for the end of year review thing, something that was most enjoyable to write last year.
But pride comes before a fall, so it seems only right that after last year's belter of a start to this publishing larkey things would drop off. I ended last year feeling like a proper writer. Stories published and plenty of opportunity on the horizon.

None of which came to pass.

To be fair, I have sold one story which should appear early next year, allegedly. But nothing else I wrote worked out. Still, what does not kill us makes us stronger. Or sends us off in a massive storm to kick a bush.

In better news I did do several readings, including in front of the General Public and at cons. Nice and something I greatly enjoy even if it is a billion times more frightening than reading someone else's words. I also ended up on a quiz team of real writers at Eastercon and Worldcon. This was an act of bare-faced cheek and the karma backlash almost undoubtedly explains my failure to sell anything this year.

All in, 2014 was a quiet year writing wise (a very busy year on other distractions though) but hopefully, with the application of elbow grease, the calm before the storm.

By way of starting a tradition, following last Christmas's free story, I thought I'd stick up the most seasonal thing I have. Published almost two years ago, why not read of The 15th of December.
You can read it on other dates too and outside of Norwich.

Happy Seasonal Whatnots!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Politics, an argument with myself

Been quite some time since I posted here so sorry. Even more sorry that when I do post it is going to be on politics.
In the next few weeks everyone in Scotland gets a vote. Probably the most important single vote that I will ever take part in. I've tried to sit on the fence for as long as I can (admittedly with some dangerous leaning in the Yes direction) but now I have to definitively choose and I want to set down my reasons. If nothing else to go over the arguments and prove to myself I've made a reasoned decision. So here you go. Please do comment, politely, if you think I have something wrong, this is too important to decide on wrong information.

Who am I?

My politics are to the left. Not massively, I was more inclined to vote Lib Dem than anything until they turned out to have the backbone of a sea cucumber (could have abstained on student fees at the very least). What you would probably call a woolly lefty, willing to pay taxes for education or welfare I shall hopefully never need.
I can see the argument for some privatisations but find the artificial markets of the power or rail systems laughably horrible ways to turn taxes into private profit.
This very much makes me ripe for an anti-Tory option but I have tried not to base my choice on anti-anything. I want to vote FOR something. Be positive and I'll be interested.

What do I want?

I want a positive choice. I'm a big, daft optimist when it comes to it and if I have two good options I can dither all day. From where I stand I can only see one positive (over-played, everything will be fine, trust me, positive, but positive) option. I'll come back to that.
One of the questions I have to ask myself is what would I consider a positive future? Especially a positive future from a No vote.
First I need to consider what I don't like about the current system, which is of course negative and so something I've shied away from. But needs must when the devil vomits in your porridge.


Small word, means a lot of different things to different people. To me it is about the will of the majority being enacted. In a UK context this means it is, due to First Past The Post distortions, a slightly right wing majority getting a generally low tax, reduced government, business orientated parliament. Which is right and correct as that is the majority will. Yes, you can split the country into sections and find the parts, such as Scotland and the North of England, that didn't vote for that, but they are not the majority in the system the UK uses. So democratically they have to put up with it until the next opportunity to convince people to change to their side.
If you are in that section that does not get the government you want there are several options. Armed revolt is not very democratic so we'll ignore that. Campaigning to shift the electorate your way is an option. It's difficult to do under the archaic First Past The Post system but possible and I applaud all those who beaver away doing so. It has been seen to lead to a concentration on the 'floating voter', however, and they are in the current centre ground of UK politics, which is to the right of me.
You could attempt to change the electoral system. Be it one Queen, one Vote or some form of PR. But the current system is firmly entrenched and doesn't like the idea of a rules change they may not have as good an understanding of.
Another option, beloved of attention seekers, is to flounce off if the vote goes against you. ( Or more likely, threaten to flounce then oddly fail to do so.) In a way independence feels a bit like this; 'Vote Left or we're taking our ball and going'. But at the same time, if I want to live in a Scandwegian style country and everyone else doesn't would it not be more polite for me to leave everyone in peace and go? Is it right for Scots to try to change the way England vote/think or should they be left with their democratic views while we leave to follow our own?

Social Choices and Tax

Being a dodgy lefty I'm all for higher taxes to pay for public services. Also for full collection of those taxes. The current UK government seems very keen on lowering (or not collecting) taxes and I completely disagree with this. Yet, if England democratically votes for this why should I try to stop them?
Compounding this is the Barnett Formula, i.e. Scotland gets a fixed percentage of UK public spending. Yes they get to spend it how they like but if Westminster cuts budgets (to cut taxes) Scotland either follows suit or puts up the small percentage of taxes they can to try to cover the difference. This being a much smaller amount of financial jiggery pokery than they could if they had full tax powers.
Also, if Scotland had the power to actually make companies pay their full tax they might not need to put up taxes or cut services at all.


This is a biggy for me. Scotland needs more people of working age. Partly because of an aging population, partly because the current economic model of London First encourages people to go south. That will still happen after Independence but the option to have a more lax systems than Westminster's 'Put up the fences, beware the foreigner and his straight banana' will help to mitigate it. Also different policies will hopefully reduce the numbers going south and so also help.
Finally, a country that is more open to the world will (and I know I'm being possibly over-optimistic here) become more tolerant and hopefully Scotland's long running issues with bigotry will abate (to some degree, there will always be rockets).

The Economy

Most politicians couldn't see the financial crash of 2008 coming from three months away. I believe neither side on their glorious or apocalyptic predictions.
What I believe will happens is much as now. Work will continue, taxes will be taken and benefits will be paid. In fact there may well be a wee boom from the work required to split up services. Then slowly north and south will drift to wherever their electorates dictate. I don't see the economy as a deciding factor. How much I am paid is unlikely to change unless significant tax changes occur, which could easily happen after a No (Westminster cuts budgets, Holyrood ups Income Tax to make up the shortfall) as a Yes.

What would be my ideal future?

Oddly enough, in the UK. But a UK that is also fully involved in the EU and a UK with a complete devolution solution. Give England (or its regions) an equivalent parliament to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland while also giving them all the same powers. A proper federal UK with every section treated equally. Not Scotland getting more because it shouts while Cornwall is left to fall in the sea.
This UK would use PR at every level of government and investment would be spread evenly as no one region would have a greater call on the centre.

This is not going to happen.

So, is there an option like this available? Or perhaps something that will galvanise a move towards it?
Why yes, Scottish Independence.

While not my first option by any stretch, it does offer a closer approximation than anything else currently on the table. It has PR. It is in the EU. It is likely to be more towards my personal political standpoint.  There are many things not ideal about it but it is the best of a bad lot and, to my mind and many English people I have spoken to (ah Worldcon waffling) and read (that Billy Bragg thing), it will help England to change in similar, positive ways.

These are my positive reasons that will make me vote FOR independence on 18th September. I know I also have the gut feelings and the cheesy Scots romanticism of wailing bagpipes pulling me that way but I am happy that I am not just voting on the heart or voting AGAINST something.

Whatever you decide, I hope you also vote FOR something.