Sunday, 14 July 2013

Gardening - the cure for writer's block? - No, but it keeps me away from Facebook.

Before I became a children's writer - I was a garden designer/landscaper and not all that bad as it happens.  From having a zero knowledge about plants and the physique of a librarian I quickly learnt many of the skills necessary to have a reasonably successful business and look like a bronzed 'Adonis'  in the process.

Bill Welch aka Chainsaw Bill
  It wasn't a bad job -  I got to play with dumper trucks and diggers, hanging out with people adept at using chainsaws; I enrolled in a HND design course at college and told everyone I was a garden designer.
Then came the easy job of filling in the gaps.
Fast forward six years and I had completely fallen out of love with gardening and everything else that came with it.  I used to get really depressed and even panic when I was doing the simplest of garden tasks and found it hard to focus.
Then something quite strange happened,  for no apparent reason I bought a packet of cress seeds for Maya-Rose and planted them and within a week, they had been harvested and eaten with a poached egg on toast. 
Inevitably this led to Maya-Rose asking - "What else can we grow?"
hmmm. . .
 The following week I went out and bought another 6 packets of various vegetable seeds a set of aluminium takeaway trays and some compost. The next day I dug up part of my lawn and began the arduous task of turning it over into a vegetable patch.  My kitchen window sill played host to a variety of seedlings and before I knew it I was given a choice.
a)Throw them away content in the knowledge that if I really wanted to grow food I probably could.
b)Put my boots on, grab a spade, dig up my neglected lawn and turn them into growing beds. 
after much deliberating I chose the latter.  My lawn is now half the size and artistically curvy, while the rest is divided between growing beds and wildflowers. (This year it's just daisies, but next year I intend to go the whole hog and do my bit to save the bees.)
So over the summer I have been rekindling my love of all things 'garden' whilst at the same time using it as an excuse to not write anything worth reading. 
It's not be a totally wasted exercise as I now have a modest collection of courgettes, radishes, peas, beans, broccoli, kale and an equal amount of herbs all coming together rather well.
My passion for foraging has taken up most of my spare daylight hours as I am making a massive effort to expand my wildflower knowledge and decode my surroundings when I am out walking the dog.  It's a slow and laborious process, checking and rechecking the petal formations and the leaf shapes to make an educated guess at the many plants that I had previously dismissed collectively as "weeds". 
So that's about where I am up to.
In other news
Having narrowly missed out at making the cut for Sound Central Festival in Kabul, I have spent a bit of time tinkering with visuals for my music and  taking samples from vintage radio transmissions to play over the top to give a bit of structure to the pieces.
Not having the proper equipment to produce my own, and  having no extra time to sit down properly and teach myself the fine art of film making I have had to borrow visual content from You Tube.  The result naturally being not bad for a beginner but definitely not in any danger of worrying the 'grown-ups'. 
Please feel free to leave a comment.
Static Island -  The Welcoming Committee
Visuals   "Geheimnisse Einer Seele"
Samples taken from Strange Tales - listen to the full stories here.
Static Island - The Solvent
Samples taken from Strange Tales - listen to the full stories here.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

I wonder how many other writers have characters squatting in their heads with no real story to go to?

 I had an abrupt remainder of how much there is to forget on CS4 if you stop using some of the functions for a while.   I decided to make a start on the layout of The Pot-bellied Cook  (PBC) yesterday, thinking that I could rattle off a front cover in next to no time.  Alas, it wasn't to be - I had a case of  'tab-mnesia'  (where you open up a software program and cant remember where everything is or what everything does.) Almost a day later I came up with a basic layout for the title page. Of course the final cover probably  won't look anything like this but it's a start.
The PBC should be ready for release in the summer but these things are never exact.  The good news is that I have a feeling the first print run will be gobbled up by many of the schools I visited a few years ago, (which should give my flagging confidence a boost no end.)
With all my energies going into my job and publishing, there never seems to be any time any more to write anything.  I have several fragments of stories rattling around in my head, some of which should be expanded and others which need to be evicted quite soon. 
I wonder how many other writers have characters and half tales, squatting in their heads with no real story to go to and only a few sentences to call their own?
One such brainsquatter is my elusive first novel 'Sleepwalkers' which is currently being relocated to a half way house.  I have given myself the slightly realistic target of 18 months from start to rewrite and eventual publishing. This is the goal, and not being the natual free flowing writer that I should be by now, I am going to have to invest some quality time and just sit down and plan it out chapter by chapter.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Introduisant Le Monstre Glou Glou


Le Monstre Glou Glou 

translated by Vanessa Steifvater.
My assault on the global ebook market continued this week with the publication of  The HPM in French - and exclusively for Kindle readers for all devices. 


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Global Recognition....

Hot on the heels of the 'This is Electric 101' ep.  I found another nice surprise in my inbox this week.

I am writing to request clearance to use the composition, "Funky Junky" by Static Island...............
............................this work would be performed by students of the Ohio University School of Dance for the Senior Spring Capstone Concert 2013 at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio. The event would take place on April 13th and 14th, 2013--two performances on the first night and a third performance on the last day

Earlyn Whitehead


Ohio University!!!, 


Of course I said yes, especially as they were willing to pay me for the privilege.  So for the first time in about 20 years of writing music, I am finally going to get something back.  (Admittedly I did perform at raves in Russia for vodka - but they were crazy days and confined to the past.) 

I will post the link of the performance in mid April.


Thursday, 21 February 2013


Adrian the owner of Stutter Records finally came good on his word and included 'Untouchable' on the Electric 101 ep.  Which means after an absence of 21 years I have another release to add to my collection. 

Obviously you'll all want to share in this piece of musical history so I have included the link below: 

In other music news, I have been shortlisted to appear at a festival in May and although I wont know for sure until the end of March, I have prepared myself mentally for one humongous knees'up. 

It's abroad as well, so it will be just like the good old days in St Petersburg when I would rave away  early hours in a converted nuclear bomb shelter. 

Mind you I can still talk a good rave, but in practice I am not sure if the flesh is strong enough even though the spirit still is.  (This coming from a man who put his back out dancing 'Ghangnam Style' the other week.)

I am pretty confident that I will give a damn good account of myself if I get the chance and just hope that the nerves don't get the better of me.

Strangely enough, when I am performing my stories, I never get nervous at all, I move about the floor - making eye contact, playing to the crowd etc.  Put me behind my keyboard however, and there seems to be a massive disconnection between myself and the audience.  

This is probably what put me off playing live in the first place.

Anyway May is a long way off and I have a host of things to occupy myself with until then. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2013....Could this possibly be the year?

The last two months have seen me lose quite a lot of the momentum I have been building up over the past year.  Having made several breakthroughs on the Ebook front, I naively thought that I could finally get "There's Something Wrong with Grandad" exclusively ready for the Kindle and have it available for Halloween. 

I really should have known better. 

This is a collection of stories that has missed so many deadlines it's comical.

Originally as a short animated film with the catchy name of Zombelina.  ( The less said about that the better.)

Then as an audio book.....

then again, as an illustrated story book.  Before building up the bottle to release it solely as an ebook exclusively for the Kindle.

Lord Monty's wife from Golden Arm
Having been dismissive of Kindle in the early days, I became their biggest fan when I found a link that converts InDesign directly to Kindle without the need to
produce in Epub ,
then use Sigil  to edit the CSS,
before finally converting it to Mobi format using Calibre. 
So armed with this, I threw myself into getting TSWWG ready for Halloween. This meant stepping up to the plate on Twitter and using Pluggio to drip feed content onto my Twitter feed, chase after followers and hopefully get them talking.
I even found a few more images to make up the shortfall left by Jodie, reformatted all the stories so they looked good on all of the Kindle devices - and braced myself for another smooth book release.
I was flying and everything looked very good.
But when it came to converting them, I found that the TOC (table of contents) was missing and it was back to the drawing board for another few sessions of self doubt and forum trawling.  What started off as a few days lay off, then turned into a week and then almost two months of leaving an almost complete book, instead of sitting down and getting on with it.
I semi nailed the process required to get the book up and running, but Christmas and work proved to be quite a distraction and in short nothing happened in December.
Other projects gained weight and new projects were born. (in my head, that is,)  and before I knew it I had another list of projects filling up the spaces in my head, all screaming for attention.
So here is my HPM Media Ltd list for 2013:
1. There's Something Wrong with Grandad:  Convert to Mobi format and publish.   Done
2. The Pot Bellied Cook and the Three Legged Dog:  Format and publish as a book/ebook - obtain translations and publish.  Promote and market the book, coordinate the PR and reading schedule.
3. Publish Farsi, French and hopefully Russian translation of the HPM.
As you can see, I have finally managed to publish There's Something Wrong with Grandad in Mobi format which is available to buy or rent from Amazon.
This project has been haunting me for years, so I feel good to be able to finally present it in a decent format.  I am hoping that the e-book will be the thin end of a very long wedge and am still adamant that the collection needs to be in audio and eventually visual format. 
Thankfully I dont need to use Sigil and Calibre anymore.  ( Not that there is anything wrong with them - but the workload has decreased dramatically.)
I think that covers the publishing aspect of HPM, and I will use the next blog to tell you about the music and games we have been developing.