Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Dysprosium: Panel List

I've just heard from the nice people at Dysprosium.  The bad news is that the panel about drones won't be going ahead due to scheduling conflicts, but the good news is that I'm now on three other panels.


Asymmetric Warfare
Bleriot suite, time 16.15 to 17.15.

Despite massive military superiority, armies still lose out to insurgent forces who use asymmetric warfare techniques, some of which might be called terrorism, to pursue their goals away from the conventional battlefield.  How does this work, how does it win, and is there any way to fight against it?  What is the future of global conflict?  How will this influence genre writing about the future, both on and off the battlefield?  How does it affect characters entangled in global conflicts, be they warriors, politicians, refugees or victims?  This panel will use asymmetric warfare as a jumping off point to discuss fiction, world building, and character development in the face of this dramatic contemporary phenomenon.

Dev Agarwal (Moderator), Sean McLachlan, Roger Bell-West and myself.

The Game of the Book
Endeavour suite, time 17:30 to 18.30.

Adaption of games from original source material how true can you be?  Can you keep it playable?

Marcus Rowland, Jim Butcher, Tom Parker, and myself.


Big Boys Toys - Real Superhero Weapons
Discovery suite, time 10:00 to 11.00.

Batarangs, webshooters, fireball throwers and adamantium claws; people have tried them (YouTube has plenty of examples how real and how practicable they are), we demonstrate what other people have done, and judge the results.

Dave Mansfield (Moderator), Steve Lawson, Susan Booth, and myself.

Weekly Update

The sixth draft of my novel is done, and I've corralled a couple of new Beta readers to have a look at it; one of them is a very experienced writer, the other a former USMC Sergeant.  With volunteers like that how could I refuse?  I've also come to the conclusion, at long last some might say, that editing while writing is not easily measured by raw word count i.e: 531 words written.  Whereas what that really represents is three chapters and one novel's worth of editing.

Now the question is will I remember this lesson in the future?

Edit: Updated links and added a panelist for Big Boys Toys.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Bad Dog Sixth Revolution

Pictures like this one inspired me when writing the underground scenes in Bad Dog.

Monday I finished, as in reached a point defined as I've re-written this text from beginning to end, the sixth draft of my novel Bad Dog; a title that may pique your interest, or not, depending on context.  So looking back over the last week I've written 1,806 words, edited countless more, and reach a running total of 87,981, which when adjusted for afterword, glossary and the list of characters means the story comes in at 85,022 words.

I cling to the total like a drowning person clings to flotsam after their ship has sunk.  I no longer have a handle on what I've written, and by that I mean I can't tell if the writing is any good, or whether the story is boring.

So the plan now is for my Alpha reader to read through it one more time.  We had a discussion in the car while driving back from Brighton at the weekend, where Susan announced she had read Bad Dog more times than any other book apart from her Andre Norton novels.  I can only hope that mine has been worth all her time.

Next up is the re-write of Strike Dog.  Oh the joy of my life, will it never end?

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Walking Together

I first met Terry Pratchett at a games convention.  I think it was one of the UniCons, probably CamCon in 1986.  I'm not entirely certain, because I didn't write anything down, and this was in the days before the internet, blogging, FaceBook and Twitter.  We had bulletin boards, and dial up modems – if you've never had to dial up to connect to a service using a modem be grateful.  I know I am.

If I remember correctly, usual caveats apply (see above), I cycled to Cambridge from Southend-on-Sea in Essex, which caused a bit of a stir, because who'd be crazy enough to cycle 60 miles to go to a convention, stay overnight and then cycle back 60 miles?  That would've been me.  I was young then, and fitter than a fit thing.

Terry was a fan, you can read my friend Jaine's blog that nicely captures this here.  When I met Terry The Colour of Magic had been out in paperback for a year, and Light Fantastic had just arrived on the scene as a hardback, with the paperback due out later that year.  He'd also had Strata published in 1981 under his belt, and unknown to me at the time The Carpet People.  So not really a big name author, but someone breaking out.

I had been invited to be on a panel by Marcus Rowland and was introduced to Terry.  We talked about role playing games and stuff like the luggage having come from an RPG campaign Terry had been involved in.  I can't recall if he was the GM or a player.  Sorry for my  lack of clarity, but the one thing I want to point out here is that Terry played Dungeons & Dragons, and how cool is that?  Cooler than a cool thing.

Also Terry would talk to fellow RPG players, as recounted here by my friend Kari.  So my piece here is to just tell the world that Sir Terry Pratchett was a game-player, something that seems likely to be overlooked in all the mainstream obituaries.

NB: This is a mirror post from my game blog.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Work in Progress: 12th Mar 2015

LISA space probe that my partner did one of the circuit board designs for.

I'm late, I'm late for my weekly blog post, no time to say the things I want, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

Yesterday I managed to edit seven and a half thousand words.

I was so focused on what I was doing that I allowed my cup of coffee to go cold, which is no big deal, because I stuck it in the microwave and reheated it.  Again I forgot to drink it while it was hot, and so repeated the trick with the microwave.  After all technology is a wonderful thing, but then allowed the coffee to go cold again.  Third time's the trick right?  No not this time.  When I remembered to take the coffee out of the microwave it had gone cold again.

By this time it was six o clock, so I poured my coffee down the sink.  Wasting good coffee is pretty much a sin in my book, but it was too late to drink it, and expect to sleep OK.

However, Scrivener tells me I wrote a negative number of words, which is fair enough, but I rewrote three chapters, and did I mention that came to seven and a half thousand words?  So it was a good days work.  Looking back over the week I see I wrote 1,315 words to bring the running total to 88,911 words, which means the core narrative runs at 85,323 words; everything else being the "after matters" like the glossary.

News on other fronts.

I've been invited to be on a panel at Dsyprosium this years Eastercon talking about drones, but can't give you anymore details as to day and time.

Going to Brighton this weekend where we will have our Civil Partnership converted to a Marriage, with my Godson and his sister watching while their mum, who is a Registrar, does the ceremony.  So that's it for another week.  Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Semper Mars

I've started re-reading the Semper Mars, the first book of The Heritage Trilogy, by Ian Douglas a pseudonym that William H. Keith uses to write under. 

The book came out in 1998 and some of the near future predictions are now set in my historical past, hence the XKCD cartoon at the bottom of this post. As a result, some events read a little odd.  What I learnt from this is to set your novels far enough in the future that they can't be overrun in your own lifetime, which is making me rethink and reappraise a couple of events that I've alluded to in my first novel.  

I found myself enjoying rereading Semper Mars despite some-completely-over-the-top rah, rah, rah the US Marines rock hyperbole.

Also setting up the United Nations as the main enemy of American progress seems to me misjudged, because the UN probably couldn't organize a piss up in a brewery – let me unpack that comment.  

The UN sometimes manages to run relief operation with a multinational task-force.  Some have even been quite successful, but having the UN unite Europe and other countries around the world to oppose the United Sates is a bit of a stretch.  There again Keith had to have a bad guy, and I imagine at the time when the book was written neither Russia or China could fit the bill.

Anyway I'm nearly finished, and I wondered why I still like this book?  

I have a certain fondness for Keith's BattleTech novels, call it nostalgia if you like, but I still enjoy reading them, and his Warstrider series is certainly a much more interesting take on future conflicts than a lot of military SF.  So I think the answer is that he projects a certain optimism.  

No matter how grim things get there's a way forward to a better outcome, which is a refreshing thing to read for a change.

My own writing this week edged over from new content into editing, as in a negative number for one day's total.  Looking at the progress I've made I see 2,773 words added to the current draft, bringing the running total up to 88,810, which when adjusted to remove the glossary etc means the novel runs to 85,601 words of story.

Today I have stripped out the six third party story arcs into their own documents.  This is so I can more readily look at how each of their perspectives adds or detracts from the main story.  I also want to make sure I've not missed or forgotten anything important to the their respective stories.  Then I plan to run through the various reiterations of the heroes day, and do the same thing to her scenes.

It's an interesting exercise, but it can be quite disheartening job at times.  Well that's it for another week, see you all on the bounce.


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