Are there no depths?

… to which the Press will not sink?

Article from Saturday:

David Maclean has multiple sclerosis. He came clean about this. But News International decided to investigate. Not to prove that he wasn’t capable of doing his job – but to prove that his symptoms were due to “excessive drinking” rather than a serious neurological illness.

And this investigation included (allegedly) hacking into his phone messages.

It never fails to amaze me how low the human mind can sink.

It has been suggested to me on occasion that my poor walking / bad co-ordination / slurred speech are due to the demon booze. Well, sometimes they have been, but nowadays it’s more likely to be the MS at work. I carry a card which states that I have MS, but there are always those who prefer to believe the worst.

Meanwhile, the sun is shining, the cats are both asleep and I must get on with some writing before Hubby gets home from work.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Asylum, Time Machine and Crowdfunding

What a week!

From a weekend at the Asylum (the largest Steampunk gathering in Europe) and riding a time machine to launching my crowdfunding appeal.

The Asylum was incredible, lots of fun. Hundreds of people wandering about Lincoln in Steampunk attire and an attempt at breaking the world record for the biggest Steampunk gathering. (Fairly sure we broke the record, but Guinness have to confirm before it becomes official).

Rode my Tramper in his Time Machine attire and even took him into the Ballroom for display. I didn’t intend to – but it’s hard to argue with Robert Rankin when he’s determined.

Spent a happy hour on a panel discussing “The Perils of Publishing” with another writer-publisher and a couple of established publishers.

And then my Crowdfunding application was accepted, so I spent time sending out emails and generally letting the world know that the novel is available for crowdfunding. It’s an “All or Nothing” system, so I either make my target or get nothing. For further info, visit:  There’s a sneak preview of the book and details on getting your name into the book as a supporter. Had a few sponsors so far, but there’s a long way to go on the funding front. Only 60 days to meet my target…

So I’ll be trying to attract funding for the next two months, as well as continuing with the writing part of the project. Ah, who needs sleep?

I also have the first draft of the picture I’ve commissioned for the book cover. Looking good. Will post a picture on here when it’s been tweaked a little.

On Reviewing

I’ve been a book reviewer for magazines for several years and a proof-reader for as long as I’ve been writing. I’m well-known for being both widely-read and a grammar pedant, both of which are useful traits in this line of work.

And both of which make me welcome the current publicity over “sock puppet” reviews.

What’s wrong with sock puppets? I hear you cry. Well, the whole problem is that they only say what you want them to say. Sock puppet reviews are written by an author or their friends, praising a book and falsely boosting its ratings in online stores / peer-review forums. I’ve been aware of this trend for years, but only recently has it become clear that some big-name authors are doing it. (See here: )

Now, I confess that I have asked people to review my books when they’ve read them – but always insisted that it needs to be their honest opinion. “If you’re giving it 4 or 5 stars, please publish your review. If it’s less – please tell me what I’ve got wrong.” And I no longer assume that the ones who don’t broadcast their opinions are necessarily negative. (If you’ve ever accepted a free book and not reviewed it, then shame on you!)

Maybe it’s time for a few rules on reviewing. Hmm:

  1. Never review your own work. (It’s worse than liking your own posts on Facebook.)
  2. Always be honest. (What’s the point in a review if it’s not true?)
  3. Never give away the plot or ending. (Readers want your opinion, the author is the one who tells the story.)
  4. Find something good and something negative to say. (They will be there if you try hard enough.)
  5. If it’s written by a friend and it sucks, let them know first – but politely. (Especially if it’s mine!)

Not asking much, really.

I recently reviewed a book for an online writing buddy. An honest review, following all of the above rules. After I’d posted it, he contacted me to say, “Why did you give if 4 stars?” I replied, “Because I was feeling generous.”

Next time I might round down the 3 ½ stars I wanted to give.


Review: The Hunger Games DVD

I loved this book when it came out, although the sequels weren’t as good. So I was looking forward to the film, but didn’t get chance to see it at the cinema.

The best bits of the film are the elements from the book – the basic premise, the characters and the plot. Special effects are nicely unobtrusive, serving to advance the story rather than take over. For once, the plot has been trimmed sensitively to fit the film, although a lot of the nuances would be hard to understand if you hadn’t read the book or at least heard more about the setting beforehand.

The violence from the book had been sanitised to make it more acceptable to a squeamish 21st-Century audience. There wasn’t enough dirt and squalor in District 12 for my mind, either.

Casting was largely good. Katniss looks too old, which I’d expected as it would be hard to find a sixteen year-old who could carry this part. Haymitch looks too young – although Woody Harrelson is the right age group and plays him fairly well. (Too trim and I wasn’t convinced by his alcoholism.) Donald Sutherland is perfect as President Snow and I look forward to seeing more of him in the next two films.

Overall, a good film.

Personal Score: 4 stars

Friends, Martins and Feline Company

Very busy, but fun, weekend.

Good friends visiting, lots of great company, entertaining food and not a little alcohol. It’s left me shattered but happy. Then I found that someone who calls herself a friend isn’t anything of the sort. But hey, not gonna let one snide idiot ruin the week for me.

The novel didn’t get much attention over the weekend, but I did manage to add 800 new words in between the various bouts of socialising. And some research involving an atlas and a Dictionary of Archaeology. Also found time to rough out the finances for our day of writing workshops next year. It’s not intended as a money-spinner, but I reckon we’ll easily break even. More planning to be done and will discuss it in more detail at the CRAG meeting tomorrow. The big question is: What do people want in a writing workshop? Should be interesting to see what the rest of the CRAGgies have in mind.

The house martins have been twittering a lot today. We’ve got one nest on the house this year and there are three more in sight of our front door. Judging by the number flying around, there must be at least a dozen more in the area. We’ve got a cardboard box opened out on the path under the nest. We learnt the hard way that we need to protect the slabs two years ago, when they first nested here. Trick is to wait until the cardboard is suitably filthy, pick a time when it’s not too wet, and put it out for the worm-recycling collection. I’m sure they enjoy noshing on the combination of cardboard, eggshells and, um – well, you can guess!

The cats, of course, are fascinated by our resident birds. Meme has already demonstrated her hunting skills by catching house martins in the past. Hopefully she won’t get one of the nesting ones! Smotyn just sits outside and watches them flitting around. She’s currently sprawled next to me, belly-up and purring.