Saturday, 18 December 2010

Geoff Nelder

One of the writers who I admire, correspond with and follow avidly is Geoff Nelder. He's written such great books as Exit Persued By A Bee, Escaping Reality and more recently Hot Air. Read the review for the latter and see the video trailer here:

Personally I thought that the video came over brilliantly and also that this would make a superb film. Consequently I've been dropping less than subtle hints for him to write a screenplay for it. I'm really hoping that he does, even if it's just to shut me up.

Go on Geoff, you know you want to...

Sunday, 12 December 2010

I've just heard that my short story "Santa Claws Is Coming" has been accepted for the Screaming Dreams Christmas 2010 Anthology, what brilliant news! The brief was to write a horror story for Christmas and it had to be as macabre as possible. The editor says "It's very weird and unusual, in a good way! It will definitely be in the Christmas issue."

With Uni paused for the festive break I can breath a sigh of relief, play catch up with other projects and add final touches to Uni work. There are two interviews that I have to finish off, plus another short story and I have to rethink my writing hours because there just aren't enough of them. I totally agree with the tutors guidance, that you need set hours to write each day. But I get up at five now and write until gone seven, plus have numerous hours over the weekend. Do I get up at four or squeeze in an hour in the evening? The trouble is that if I do the latter there is always the temptation to do more and you start to infringe on family life, so it looks like a four o'clock start from now on.

I have several short stories and another poem away at the moment, that I am still awaiting answers back on; plus a novel synopsis with a publisher. One can but hope, but hey come on guys it's Christmas :-)

As for now, back to writing. My story's calling me.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Tis Snowing, So It Is

Bex has done nothing but look through the window since it started to snow. If it gets much worse I'll really have to let her in. I think she's still upset that I'm writing a horror story about Santa, some people have no sense of adventure...

As I now changed jobs I no longer have those long hours on the train back and forth from Basingstoke each day - even if I did used to get so engrossed in my work that I often missed my stop. Consequently I am now up at 4 or 5 in the morning, writing. Even so there is still so much to do that I have decided to back out of the BSFA's Orbiter groups for a while, which is a crying shame but in all honesty you have to take a look and ask yourself "What can I cut back on?" I can't allow my work for the MA to suffer, it has to take priority.

Having said that, the aforementioned Santa story is going well; a bit more tweaking and I will send it off for critiquing. There's another short story that I'm working on too, plus several articles that have been asked for. The previous works for Combat (still sad about that) are now on a back burner. Other markets are there for them but I need to focus on given areas at the moment; such as the short fiction, MA and so forth. That's without even thinking about the novel!

I've also heard this week that a nano short story of mine is due to be published shortly in The Write To Fight Anthology, to raise funds for a children's karate team. This is a new venture, something that I hadn't heard about before but I thought that I'd give it a go and look I forward to seeing the publication.

I guess that I'd better go and let Bex in, she's waking up the neighbours.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

I heard some sad news recently, that a magazine that I used to write for is no longer publishing. I've been unable to confirm this as yet but if that is indeed the case this is a very sad day, as I have been writing for them on and off since the early 80's. I do hope that they manage to resurface and I would sincerely wish the editor and staff well.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

On writing

Chuffed that my poem "A Voice From The Grave" has now been published at - download a copy today!

I'n now looking to find ideas for two short stories and to crack on with my novel, it needs work. Who was it said stories are never finished, they're just abandoned?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


I've just heard that my poem "A Voice From The Grave" is going to be in Screaming Dreams Halloween issue, which is due out at the end of the month. In addition my short story "A Connoisseur Of The Bizarre" will be in Novembers issue. Delighted.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Inventions From Science Fiction

A published SF novelist friend of mine went to a writing weekend a short time ago. I was extremely surprised when his feedback to me was that he felt he was not treated as an equal, simply because his genre was science fiction. How odd I thought. He felt that he was treated with disdain and that must have been unpleasant, to say the least. So what would one do in that situation? I think that one of the ways that I would have dealt with this by looking at the benefits that SF has given us, not only the hours of pleasurable reading or of watching films but the literal benefits such as inventions. What, say you? Yup, inventions.

There are many that have come from the realms of Science Fiction, the most obvious being the space programs rockets and so forth. Then there are: electronic book readers (The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy), electronic tags, the hovercraft, mobile phones, robots, electronic hearts (Philip K Dick). What about sliding doors (star trek), Geostationary satellites (Arthur C Clarke), lasers (War Of The Worlds), it was even predicted many years ago that books would be stored in tiny boxes - ergo the memory stick. The list goes on and on.

On top of that one could look at the list of films that have won major awards, beating genres from across the board: Star Wars, 2001 A Space Odessey, Aliens, The Matrix, Blade Runner and The Terminator to name but a few.

So, armed with this I rest my case and tip my hat to the SF writer.

Friday, 8 October 2010

On Writing

So how is the writing going? I was asked this recently by a close family friend who'd heard that writing is a solitary art that can affect relationships. He was right of course, it can indeed be a threat to relationships but if you're aware of this you can combat it quite effectively. Some time back this exact issue was covered by one of our universities tutors, who told us that you need to find a specific time each day to write and stick to it. By doing this family and friends know when you're working and that they need to plan things around these times, as does the writer himself. I've also found that this somehow helps with the flow of the writing, exactly why though I don't know. It's just that I write better, concentrate longer and think clearer during these specific times. I still have those notebooks with me constantly, scribbling away when things occur to me. I just don't develop the ideas at that exact moment in time (although I may muse over them occasionally). This is a huge change from when I used to spend most of the day latched onto my laptop, frowning and hammering away at the keyboard. Instead 3 or 4 hours a day works wonders.

I've always been lucky with non-fiction, finding that editors sometimes like the ideas that tend to leap into my mind. But is it luck or is it the approach? You see I strongly adhere to another piece of advice that I was given many years ago and that was always to check first with your target market before you actually putting anything down on paper. Has another such piece been published recently (in your target or a rival magazine) or would the editor actually interested in publishing this? They can only say yes or no and if it's the latter then simply drop the subject and move on. You haven't wasted anytime writing something that isn't going to be published and can concentrate on something that is, thus building up your hit rate.

I did discover a new hiccup recently. Having come up with an idea to base an article on the financial climates effect on professional martial arts instructors and their schools I ran it past an editor who really liked the idea and suggested someone to interview with regards to this. But after many phone calls and emails the subject declined the interview, saying he believed that it was the wrong time to publish such an article. I still strongly disagree with this and feel that a school owner would appreciate some advice on this subject right now, such as what other markets to look at or classes to run, rather than read this some months down the road when his school might have had to close. However, Editors really know the business and if they agree with the interviewee you really need to sit up and take notice, then think up something else.

It's fiction that I really love but struggle with. It's not the ideas themselves but getting them accepted and published. But we aren't alone. Look at Stephen King who took his first novel Carrie to 17 publishers before it was accepted, or J K Rowling who took Harry Potter to 57 publishers before it was accepted by Bloomsbury with a limited run and she was firmly on the path to becoming the world's first billionaire writer.

So with these odds stacked against us why do we write? Is it love of the written word or the hope of financial success, or maybe the urge to be recognised or maybe even escapism from the mad world around us? For many of us I believe it's the latter. What better escape than to simply lock one's doors on the outside world and lose ourselves in exploring alien landscapes or in the adventures of knights and dragons, perhaps romantic relationships or even childish pranks. The world of the writer may indeed be a lonely one but I personally can think of nothing better than to think up new plots and characters and hope that one day someone else will enjoy our efforts.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

One of our friends put on her facebook account this morning "I love Gok and I'd love to appear on How To Look Good Naked". I have to admit that I had to ask Bex to read it to me again, as I misheard it the first time. Yup, I've had one of those weeks.

I've always been quite lucky with getting non-fiction published. Whether it's because I'm getting better or the editors are getting more desperate I don't know, although I suspect the latter. Trying hard to raise my profile earlier in the week I thought that it would be a good idea to fire off a list of possible projects to various editors, expecting a possible hit with one or two of them if I were lucky. Nope. All seven ideas were taken up, so I now have seven articles to write and not a lot of time to do it. I have to admit that I love the idea of all of them but just didn't expect this.

I just wish I were as lucky as this in fiction. It's a field that I feel really drawn to, so I would be the happiest man in NATO if that were the case. I'm desperate to write a few more shorts and crack on with my novel and I also have a new large project in mind that I hope to have news of later this week. So if you don't see or hear from me for a few days don't worry about sending out the search parties, I'll be found strapped to my laptop in the dark tapping away.

Monday, 6 September 2010

I thought surrealism was asking your children what they wanted to be when they grew up then your partner's six year old son (at the time) replying that he wants to be a murderer. But on Friday whilst talking to Paul Clifton, Editor of Combat Magazine, and we were discussing potential articles he asked me what I would really like to write. My answer was "that article on Jackie Chan you asked me for back in 1985". Paul laughed, particularly when I told him that one of the photographic models for my book now works as a stuntman in all the Jackie Chan movies. (Chen Kai Chong can often be seen by us in them, followed by cries from me of "that's him!") Paul then tells me that Jackie is back in the UK in a couple of weeks and would I like to interview him then. Picking myself back up off the floor I think about it for 0.5 seconds and then say yes. Fully aware that life often puts obstacles in our paths I can but hope. So, fingers crossed and watch this space...

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Going Well

Indeed, the new job is going brilliantly. So much to learn and great people to work with. It's great having a challenge and being able to rise to the occasion, with so many people willing to teach you and also to listen to what you have to say too.

My two poems "Android In The Sand" and "The Spider's Stance" were published by Kalkion earlier this week and it's great to see them in print. I've always wanted to be a fiction writer and never really thought about being a poet but, despite what some schools of thought are, these just seem to write themselves. So I guess that I am kinda lucky there. My train season ticket has now come through, which means that instead of spending over three hours a day driving a car back and forth to work (although I have to say that I really enjoy the journey through the countryside) I can now sit back and flash up my laptop and write! How cool is that? One of the areas that really appeals to me is screen writing and once things quieten down I intend looking to that field too. Well, one has to try!

Being out of touch with the other students one can't help but wonder how they are getting on. It's so good getting their input on your own work, to be able to critique theirs in turn and then to discuss the points that you have raised. I'm very lucky, as the guys on the course are not only great people but to be honest man some of them seem to be gifted writers (I'm jealous!) and I know that I will be seeing their names on book shelves in the not too distant future. I have to say to anyone who wants to seriously be a writer to consider doing this MA. Now to more writing!

Sunday, 8 August 2010


That's as in happy, not as in person, as last night I received an email from the editor of Kalkion to say that he has has accepted and already published my short story "Faces In The Sky" and the two poems I sent him will be published online later this week. What brilliant news! Things are indeed starting to look up and I have the MA course, the other students and members of both the Orbiter groups to thank for it. These are published at:

I awoke to a hilarious but somewhat loud verbal exchange between children outside this morning. A boys was telling a girl what kind of person he thought she was, following her comment on his Facebook wall. He also said that she couldn't spell, as apparently he's a coke soaker... Her reply was that this was in response to his calling her a lemon licker. I think I must be getting old, as I had to think about that for a couple of seconds. Amused no end by this exchange we had a quick look at his Facebook page to learn that this lad who says the girl cannot spell was "very pist off". Kids are incredibly entertaining!

The new job started on Monday and I have to say that it is brilliant and I am enjoying it immensely. I do look forward to when I can start training it in rather than driving in however, as it takes me about an hour and a half to drive each way. The train journey will allow me to spend time writing on my laptop and catching up with my mail and other tasks, and the office is directly across the road from the train station. Luckily this situation is happening during the uni holidays and will be sorted out - hopefully - by the time we restart.

Friday, 30 July 2010

UK ChungDoKwan

Those that have known me for a while will know of my interest in the martial arts. Many moons ago I worked in Hong Kong for the Royal Navy, at the base HMS Tamar. Whilst there I also wrote as a Far Eastern Correspondent for Combat Magazine. One day they contacted me and asked me to interview a rising star who was just about to release a very much anticipated film. Unfortunately the RN patrol boats were out in the Philippines on disaster relief, due to a typhoon that had basically trashed the place. The result of this was that the communication centre in which I worked was 1 in 2, in other words we were working 12 hours on and then 12 off for the duration. Naturally I was unable to conduct the interview, much to the magazine's dismay (and mine!). The film company also contacted me several time and in the end sent me a load of information regarding the film and I wrote the article from that. Name of the film star? Jackie Chan. Gutted or what...

Last night Master Mike McGovern came to my class, which had limited numbers attending due to the school holidays. Mike is creating a national Taekwondo team for UK Chung Do Kwan, the WTF arm of the British Council for Korean Martial arts. This team will be competing both at home and abroad, which is excellent news indeed. Why? Because due to politics within the UK there hasn't been much in the way of competitions for our students to compete in. The sad result of this is that many of them have become disheartened and have moved on. With this new venture I foresee a great avenue for fighters within the UK to compete around the world and I'm delighted to say that I have been invited onto the National Selection Committee. I still consider it a great shame that internal politics prevent our best athletes from competing and representing our country, hopefully this venture will provide a way ahead and will break the chains trying to be imposed by those in positions of authority.

Today is my fiancee Becky's birthday and I am looking forward to her coming home tonight, so that we can celebrate. I won't say how old she is but she is much younger than I and recently became a grandmother to her daughter Alex's first child, Lillie-Anna. (This also meant that her sons Joe, George, Ben and Louis all became uncles at young ages from 17 years down to 8). So after various humorous comments about increases in age and grandmothers I've decided to bite my tongue before it suddenly becomes involuntarily thicker. However, I would like to wish Bex all the best on her birthday and thank her for having such a great sense of humour and to say I think that she is a great mother to her children, and grandmother...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Whilst researching propulsion systems for a project I was amused to learn that Project Orion (Nuclear Pulse Propulsion) was an idea to propel a spaceship, using atomic bombs going off underneath the ship. As each bomb went off the ship was forced higher, as it would be. Makes you really glad that they didn't actually try it! The theme was used by Stephen Baxter in his novel "Ark". I would bet high odds that if certain of our allies actually decided to explore this idea the chances are that it wouldn't be held on their own turf.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Life is out there!

Yay! after more job applications than I would care to remind myself about, and being off work since February, determination has finally paid off. I have accepted the offer of an excellent job, one that shows promise of a great career and one that will be an enjoyable challenge. Chuffed to bits and really looking forward to my new role as an Office Manager for a corporate section of Axa-Sunlife Insurances

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Success, yay!

Yesterday I decided to send off a short story and a poem to an Ezine, thinking that a response would take quite some time, as they usually do. However, when I awoke this morning I checked my Blackberry and found an email from the Editor confirming acceptance of both, that they don't usually take poetry but he is looking for a slot for it. Great news indeed! This is the first short that I have sent off for quite some time and my first acceptance of a poem. To say that I'm chuffed is an understatement.

Many moons ago I used to write on a desk but in a rehash of furniture when my partner moved in it was relegated to the shed, due to space limitations. Consequently I then took to writing on my bed, as this is such a busy household and one needs quiet, as we know. One of the tutors on the course suggested that I rethink this and redefine my writing habits, as I wrote whenever I felt like it. Contemplating his suggestion I moved to the dining room and now stick to a specific timescale, with my books around me on the bookshelves. Indeed this seems to be working as I am getting more and more prolific.

Later on today I'm taking my somewhat daft dog - who managed to fall into the pond yesterday (well at least she was cool) - for a long walk, as is our want. I'm really looking forward to it. So is the dog I do believe, as it's a very hot day and she is eying up the pond again.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

First Blog Ever

As per the Title this is my first blog ever. I probably would never have set one up had it not been for Falmouth University and their degree requirements. I just hope that they don't have a sense of humour failure...