Progress on the WIP: #SciFi in the Making.


The MS is complete. I even have a title, agreed after consultations with my publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing. Of which, more later in this post.

Because, in publishing terms, the book has a short lead in time (we want to launch at Fantasticon in Hull; a fantasy/gaming/scifi convention that takes place on 2nd and 3rd September), we need to get on with it. So, the editors have been sending me the typos and stylistic/grammatical errors I missed during my own edit. I’ve been dealing with those by return. In the not too distant future, I’ll get the full MS back with any other suggestions, based on content and language. And I’ll deal with that by return.

We’ve had initial discussions on the cover and I await the results with eager anticipation.

So, the title: I created the book using a working title to blend well with book one, Blood Red Dust. Green, the Dust said something about the success of ecopoiesis since the ending of the 1st book. However, it didn’t really address the conflict in book two. But both I, and Dan Grubb (my publisher) wanted to run the proposed series with a commonality in the titles. ‘Dust’ is an apposite theme word. I brainstormed 50 titles. Cut that down by restricting choices to only three words, and then fed the remaining 35 through Amazon to check for uniqueness. That left me with 10 potential titles. I had my two or three favourites, but I wanted a more independent view, so sent that list of 10 to Dan. And we came up with the title now to be used.

So, watch out for Generation Mars: War Over Dust.

We’ll reveal the cover soon. Watch this space.

And, meantime, make sure you read book one, won’t you? You can get it here from the publisher, or here from your local Amazon store. And, of course, it’s available from all leading book retailers.

The Sweet Oil of Vitriol: A Tom Glaze Hit, by Daniel Eagleton, Reviewed.

sweet oil of vitriol

This is a different type of thriller. Dealing with the murky lives of Mossad Agents, it follows the early career of Thomas Glaze, a young man totally deluded about his appeal to women, his ability in the field, and his tolerance for drugs and alcohol.

Unsurprisingly, with such a catalogue of denial, he fails miserably as an agent, causing many problems along the way for himself, his colleagues, the women he collects, and a few random members of the public.

As a character study, it works well, as this ‘secret’ agent breaks the first law of fieldwork by getting himself noticed. His inability to understand, let alone accept, his own failings, coupled with his arrogant blame of everyone but himself for his failures doesn’t endear him to the reader. However, he’s skilfully drawn and the story has a compulsive element to it that keeps the reader turning the pages.

This is much more than a thriller. It deals with self-delusion very well. The sheer arrogance and total lack of self-awareness reminds this reader of the failings of most politicians. For utter misconception of his self, Glaze excels.

He is, of course, also completely amoral and unconcerned about the effects of his mistakes, except for rudimentary guilt feelings that are never allowed to mature into real regret or remorse.

There are a few editing glitches that need attention, but I find so many of these nowadays that I’m beginning to believe the standard of book production in general is in decline. That most readers seem unaware of and unconcerned about these frequent errors is a matter of disquiet for a reader who is also a writer.

The story is well paced and carries a number of unexpected twists and turns. If you enjoy straightforward formulaic thrillers, this will be a change and possibly even a challenge for you. But I enjoyed the read, whilst constantly appalled at the personality of the main protagonist.

Celebrating a Life Well-Lived

The hotel we stayed at: looks posh, but it was 30% cheaper than the nearby Holiday Inn Express.

Monday, we travelled to Southampton for the funeral of a much-loved old lady. Aunt Vera, elder sister of my dad, Ken, fell and broke her hip. At the grand old age of 103, she was quite frail and failed to recover from the op to mend the break. She was a woman who enjoyed life, though she’d had hard times and suffered losses. Always generous of nature and kind in thought, she spent the latter years of her active life with her daughter, Jill, delivering ‘Meals on Wheels’. She enjoyed helping the ‘old folk’!

Vera collected items relevant to my dad’s life for me.

My dad died a couple of weeks before I was born, so I never knew him. And, since my mum was killed in a car crash a couple of days after my 16th birthday, I never really learned much about him (my stepdad, a kind man, was a little vain and preferred me not to ask about my past). So, I didn’t even know I had this lovely aunt.

Curious about my past, I entered some details on the old Genes Reunited site. Within hours I was contacted by a cousin, Charles, who I’d never heard of. After a few introductory emails, he explained that Vera had been looking for me, and gave me her address. That first visit to Southampton was a wonderful experience. We saw her a few times after that, the most memorable visit being her 100th birthday. Each time, she gave me more stories and information about my dad so I now feel as though I know him better.

Vera was also a bit of a collector. Nothing silly; she kept photographs, newspaper clippings, and other items of interest. After the funeral, which was a celebration of her life, we all retired to the local Southampton Arms. There, I talked with other family members, especially another cousin, Christine, and Vera’s daughters, Jill and Jackie. Jill had dealt with the closure of Vera’s flat (she lived independently right up to the end of her life) and had found several items of interest for me. There was a certificate relating to my dad’s work as a mechanic, his original birth certificate, some photographs, and a few newspaper clippings relating to births, marriage and deaths.

My wife, Valerie, and I spent that evening in a local hotel in a nearby village, as we’re not keen on cities. We’d walked from the hotel to the crematorium, been given a lift to the pub, and walked back from there to the hotel; we both enjoy walking and the round trip was only around 6 miles.

Pretending to bowl!

The following day, in honour of Vera’s love of life, we decided to spend a little time enjoying ourselves. I’d spent the previous few weeks deep in the intense process of editing my latest science fiction book (now with the publisher) and Valerie had supported me, which meant we’d had very few times of real leisure.

The Isle of Wight and the Needles.

Our trip took us through the New Forest, via a very congested Lyndhurst, to the small seaside town of Milford on Sea. It’s a while since we’ve breathed the sea air and small places like this suit us better than the larger towns.

On the sea front at Milford on Sea

We took a walk along the sea wall and discovered a bowling green inviting members of the public in for a game (at a small cost). Valerie’s a bowler, I’m not. But we were out for some enjoyment, so we popped in and were greeted by the duty steward, who furnished us with shoes (you have to wear shoes with completely flat soles on bowling greens) and bowls. Our game was amusing, and for Valerie helped make up her mind to try some slightly heavier woods. We enjoyed that short spell and then set off for a walk along the sea front.

A Yellow Horned Poppy grabs some sunlight amongst the rocks protecting the coast path.

The Isle of Wight, with the Needles, was visible from the promenade. The sun sparkled on gentle waves breaking on a steeply rising pebble beach.

The gravel path up to the sea wall protecting the coast.

Hunger took us back into the small town centre in search of refreshment where we were accosted by a young couple armed with promotional leaflets. Pure serendipity; they were marketing a new venture, a tearoom in a local pub. With free tea/coffee if you bought a sandwich or cake. What’s not to like? The White Horse was only a couple of hundred yards along the high street. Lovely coffee, good sandwiches and delicious cakes.

A brackish lake supporting local sea life.

Eventually, of course, we had to leave for home. A pleasant meander along lesser roads (we avoid motorways unless we’re in a hurry) took us through a number of pretty villages we’d never otherwise have seen and into some beautiful countryside to arrive home around 20:00.

Gentle waves wash against the pebble beach.

I think Vera would have heartily approved of our little excursion. And the diversion turned what could’ve been a very sad two days into a delightful short break.

Progress on the WIP: #SciFi in the Making.


Some weeks are a country walk, others a trek across mountainous desert. This one has been a touch demanding. But, the book itself is now done. It lacks a title, of which I have a brainstorming session’s worth of around 50 at present. And the blurb demands to be done. I usually try for three of those; 50 words, 100 words and 150 words. Condensing the essence of 113,900 words to such tiny proportions is never easy, especially when the story combines a number of threads. But it will be done. I’m committing myself to having the package with the publisher by the weekend.

As for the past seven days, these have been hard work interrupted by a two-day break to attend the funeral of a beloved old aunt. At 103, she’d had an active life in which all who knew her loved her. Vera was the older sister of my dad, Ken, who died before I was born. We met late in life and she was able to fill in many gaps in my knowledge about the man who fathered me. It was a sad occasion, as any death always is, but also a celebration of a life well-lived.

We travelled to Southampton for the service, stayed overnight, and then spent the following day in relaxation on the coast before arriving home late last night.

Today, I discovered that the charity AGM I was unable to attend due to my trip away has elected me back on the board as a trustee. And would I please produce an advert for the Hall along with photographs to illustrate its advantages as a venue. If possible, could I do this by the end of today, as the publication concerned is due to be printed almost immediately!

For weeks I’ve been carrying my camera to catch the front of the building in the sun. But it’s location means it sees sunshine only for an hour or so each day and only during the months of June and July. Every time I caught it at the right time, there were cars parked outside. Today, on my way to collect the keys so I could photograph the interior, not only was the sun shining as required, but the cars were absent. Back home from the trip, I set about putting words and pictures together, only to discover the software I’d downloaded wouldn’t produce the desired size of image, unless I upgraded. I did that, and, finally, the piece of copy with its accompanying pictures is done.

And now, after a 06:15 start, and at the time of 20:30, I think I’ve earned a rest. Retirement, what’s that? A glass of red awaits my descent to the sitting room, so I’ll wish you all a good night and bring you up to date with the rest of the book facts next week.

Progress on the WIP: #SciFi in the Making.


Reading each chapter, making amendments, additions, deletions, corrections, and then feeding them through grammar checker, It removes unintended repetitions, weak verbs, and many other small errors you can miss when reading from the screen. It’s pretty intense. But I’m up to page 329 of 411. Twelve chapters to go; mostly in the denouement now, so building more tension as I move along.

I’m printing off each chapter and passing it to my independent reader, to look for inconsistencies, confusions, occasional homophonic substitutions, the odd grammatical fail and anything else she feels worth mentioning. So far, these have been few. I then put right those things she points out that I agree with.

Final stage is reading the whole book, aloud, from print. That identifies awkward sentences and tonal inconsistencies.

I still need to come up with a good title: ironically, the working title doesn’t work. Brainstorming might sort that! Maybe a visit to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations for an apposite quote. TBA.

Then my publisher, currently gnashing teeth with impatience, can have the MS. We’re hoping to launch at Fantasticon 2017. This annual celebration of science fiction, fantasy and gaming is held in Hull, this year’s UK City of Culture, and takes place on September 2nd and 3rd.

I’ll be there. Perhaps we’ll meet there!

Creative #Writing #Contests Table Updated


The pic is just for inspiration.

Here’s your monthly reminder that the writing contest table has been updated. I update frequently; in fact, whenever I come across new contests. I also subscribe to a few sources for information to pass on to you here.

Make sure you get your entries submitted in plenty of time, there are some spectacular prizes to be had. Some are FREE to enter. And think of the kudos!

The table updates every time I save to it, so whenever you visit the page, it’ll be as up to date as it is on my Mac. You can access it by clicking here.

I’ve been a bit busy editing prior to sending the next book off to my publisher. I should be finished with that in a few days and I’ll catch up with some contest details I know are waiting then.

Have fun and get some cash for your writing.

If you want to receive this monthly reminder, please add your email address to the small form at top of the column on the right. Neither I, nor WordPress, will spam you, but you’ll receive an informative email each time I post on the blog.

Progress on the WIP: #SciFi in the Making.


I’m currently reading each chapter and then feeding them through grammar checker, This removes unintended repetitions, weak verbs, and many of other small errors the eye misses when reading from the screen. It’s a fairly intense process. So far, I’m at page 165 of 412 in a Word doc that’s double spaced.

After that check, I’m printing off each chapter and passing it to my independent reader, who’s finding inconsistencies, confusions, occasional homophonic substitutions, the odd grammatical fail and anything else she feels worth mentioning. So, far, these have been mercifully few. Mind you, this is the 2nd in a series and she gave me a slight heart attack when she asked if one of the pivotal characters had been killed off in book 1! She was right about exactly that in my fantasy trilogy, ‘A Seared Sky’, so I felt I’d better check. Fortunately, this time, I was okay. The character was still alive at the end of book 1.

I then put right those things she points out that I agree with.

Last stage is to read the whole book, aloud, from print, not screen. That identifies awkward sentences and tonal inconsistencies. And, of course, I need to come up with a good title: the working title doesn’t really do it for me. A bit of brainstorming should sort that!

Then it’s off to my publisher, who’s currently gnashing his teeth with impatience, as he wants to launch the book at Fantasticon 2017. This annual event in Hull, this year’s UK City of Culture, takes place on September 2nd and 3rd. It’s a celebration of science fiction, fantasy and gaming.

I’ll be there. Maybe you’ll pop along, too!