Sunday, 23 February 2014

PicoCon 31

Usually on a Saturday my routine involves backing up my computer, but this weekend it was up early and off to PicoCon 31, held at Imperial College by the ICSF club.  A one day convention that has been a regular event that I try to attend each year.  

It's like an old friend one revisits to catch up with.  Also bumped into Jainne Fenn and her partner Dave too, and helped her and Sarah Pinborough on the GoH question panel where all was on the line to win a bar of chocolate*.

Truth be told I've been coming down with a bug this week and Friday evening saw the first symptoms expressed with a hacking cough coming from yours truly.  All things considered I feel better now that I'm trying to cough my lungs up than I have all week while I was fighting the bug off.  

This has impacted work with only 1,459 new words written, bringing the total WIP up to 38,957.  I've pretty much had negative word totals all this week as I've been editing and revising the parts of this novel that were my original first draft; this has been quite disheartening at times.

Reading wise I've started the third volume in the Spin State series by Chris Moriarty called Ghost Spin, and I'm loving it.  

More about this book next week when I hope I will have finished reading it.  I'll just say one thing though, and that it is really expanding my mind with oh gosh wow I wish I had thought of that ideas.

Meanwhile we are now watching Game of Thrones after finishing Ashes to Ashes, which made me cry with its tear jerker of an ending.  GoT TV series is in my opinion a bit like how the story of the Princess Bride is described; the best bits version.

So a good week for getting out and seeing people, not so good for work and health.

*The question asked of the panelists was what do you see as the outcome of data mining, which stumped Sarah and Jane, it was clearly a question formulated by someone who knew Charlie Stross would be on the panel.  I did my best Hermione Grainger impression and helped Jane and Sarah who were clearly stumped, but equally outraged that the question came with the announcement of chocolate for the winners.  I did my bit, and was duly rewarded with chocolate.  We women have to stick together when chocolate is mentioned.

Sunday, 16 February 2014


Like most SF fans I have a pile of unread books waiting for me to turn my attention to them, so I found the above amusing.  

This week has been a bit rough for me, because it's another birthday, and having to face the fact that I'm not getting any younger really means something as you get older, with the inevitable realization that the time left to live is less than the time one has been alive.  So yesterday when I went into Forbidden planet I bought another couple of books to add to my unread pile.

On a more upbeat note, over on one of the blogs I feature there has been a couple of rather good posts about AIs and the technological singularity, here and here.  

The first post gives what I feel is a very cogent argument about the realities of uploading minds, AIs and the advent of the technological singularity.  The second post has graphs to illustrate the first posts points more clearly.  I couldn't have written a better version these posts if I tried.  Recommended reading for those interested in such things.  Also, it made a nice change from some of the recent posts I've read elsewhere on the internet.

Yesterday was the first writers workshop of the year followed by the social, which serendipitously was being held on the same weekend as my birthday.  So all good. Met a new writer, Tim Bateman, and managed to hang out and have some good conversations about writing and stuff.  Next month the group has an agent coming to give a talk.

Work wise this week saw me very distracted by a furore over a hobby related discussion on a forum I frequent, and me feeling miserable etc.  So I only managed to write 2,316 words, bringing the running total for the novel up to 37,970, which isn't too shabby for six weeks work. 

 More optimistically I managed to really get down to fixing the plot structure and now have an outline for all five acts, whereas up to now I had only managed to work out the first three.  This is something that I find comforting.

Reading wise I finished Spin Control by Chris Moriarty, which I loved more the second time round, and it was a fave rave read the first time I read it.  My only criticism would be that there is enough content in both books that they might have been better split up into three, or even four volumes, though that would have wrecked the plotting.  I'm planning on reading Ghost Spin next.

We are getting through Ashes to Ashes, and started the third season last night.  

On reflection some of the story makes a lot more sense once you know the ending, but there is at least one scene where Gene Hunt's reply is slightly off key given that he knows what is really going on.  Still an excellent show to re-watch.  

Surprisingly, we had a delivery today from Amazon of Game of Thrones season three, so guess what we will be watching when we finish Ashes to Ashes later this week.  I think the plan is to go back and watch seasons one and two first.  My partner will no doubt tell me the plan in due course.

So I've survived another week, become another year older, and I'm still here and writing.  So all is well in my world.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Ashes to Ashes

This week has seen me struggling with world building issues, with me having to go back and think through and expand ideas that the plot hangs off.  As such the forward momentum has rather slowed to a stop with only 1,401 words added to the novel, bringing the total up to 35,284 in total.  

Not helped by coming off another piece of medication as a result of being clinically in remission with my rheumatoid arthritis.  What is not generally appreciated is that coming off long term medication also produces unwanted side-effects.  

Still, life could be worse, I could be dead, and that would be dead boring wouldn't it.

On the other side I've have a great week of watching stuff that I've really enjoyed.  The week started with series three of Sherlock on Blu-ray, which was excellent, and I don't care what the internet chorus says about the various episodes.  We were both thoroughly entertained.  We ended up buying this on Blu-ray because our attempts to record it ended up with us having no sound, due to our DVR system not being compatible with the way the BBC broadcasts the show.

After watching the three Sherlock episodes we transitioned to Ashes to Ashes.  

This was on special offer as a three disc set, which is also helping me get my head back into what it was like to live in the eighties; a period of my life that having the pleasure of living through probably left me traumatised for life.  Still DCI Gene Hunt and DI Alex Drake and the rest of the cast have been gracing our home, and it is a hoot to re-watch.  

This all of course means that we have put back watching Ghost in Shell yet again.

I'm still reading Chris Moriarty's Spin Control and loving it.  I'm tempted to blow my way through it, but given the speed at which she writes I'm savouring the pleasure slowly.  

Other stuff I've done this week is obsessing about Daleks and painting some miniatures, as a way of letting my mind drift over the world building so as to avoid creating too many plot problems, or other difficulties for myself.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Spin Control

Another week, another dollar.  Bit of mixed bag for me this week as I started to come down with a chest infection on Wednesday, and as a result felt a little under the weather.  My partner decided to take Friday off, so I spent it doing relaxing hobby stuff.  

So this weeks writing total was 3,116 words, with the month's running total at 15,920, leaving me 34,472 words into my current novel.  One day was a negative word count day, due to editing and revisions made in light of mistakes I caught, and feedback from my Alpha reader that pushed me to clarify some background world building stuff that I had put off for far too long.

Reading wise I've started Spin Control by Chris Moriarty, re-reading as it has been so long since I read the first two books I wanted to refresh myself about the story and characters before beginning Ghost Spin.  

This is definitely one of those cases where the time between books coming out was so long that one has forgotten why one enjoyed reading them in the first place.  I plan never to have a seven year gap between novels if I can help it.  

I'm speaking with my readers hat on here.  As a writer I can see that things may not be so simple and the time it takes to write a story, is however long it takes the writer to finish it.  

BTW she has a blog here, and a website that is well worth reading here.  Chris is one of those authors I've not met who I would like the opportunity of meeting at some point, she sounds like she would be interesting to hang out with.

On other fronts, my friend Julie Mellors, photographer extraordinaire sent me a book When Cultures Collide by Richard D. Lewis, which I found maddening to read.  

On one hand it gives a good overview of the importance of differences between cultures when doing business with them, on the other it reads like one of those horoscope books that purports to describe all Aquarians as whatever.  It has a bibliography, which is a good point, a glossary and index.  So at least a nod in the right direction, but I would have liked to have seen references, footnotes and statistics to support the statements made.

On what we've been watching this week, well we finished season three of The Professionals.  

Thoroughly enjoyable, probably for all the wrong reasons, but the wit and banter between the three main characters is entertainment at its best.  Next week I guess we will be getting back to Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, which is one of my all time favourite anime shows.


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