Crafty Woman

My wife, a very talented and creative woman, has finally taken the plunge and started blogging about her own artistic endeavours. Carole works in three dimensions: fabric, paper, jewellery and so on. In her blog she writes about her projects, but also about the process.

I particularly liked her posting about De-Cluttering the Brain (God knows, I need the advice, but I’m sure it’s something we can all learn from). If you’re interested in arts and crafts, I hope you will drop by her blog, and support it with “likes”, linking, sharing…you know, all that good social networking stuff.


Out of my head

The title song for Pilar Allessandra’s wonderful screenwriting podcast, On the Page, has the catchy chorus, “Get it out of your head, and onto the page.” Lately I’ve had to follow that advice or risk going off the rails.

Call it cabin fever from being snowed in, and without water in the house for almost three weeks; call in my warped brain. Whatever it is, I’ve woken up several mornings recently with weird after images from dreams (normal), but more significantly with weirder phrases or word groupings. Two examples: “Baby Want Perambulator” “Zebras need Zippers” and “On the Care and Maintenance of Mermaids.”

The mermaid thing turned into a 4,000 word short story, which I am shopping around. And I’ve begun a story with permabulators and zebras in it – which I feel will end up being a piece of nonesense for the trash on my iBook.

If anyone else out there has had similar experiences – or even stranger ones – do please let me know. Failing that, send the guys with the straight jackets out to catch me.

Coming soon in Steampunk Tales magazine

Cubes is about an inventor obsessed with the idea of solving the problem of randomness and chaos in the world – with very peculiar consequences. Here’s how the story begins:


When Stapleton witnessed the trolleybus accident that killed six people and injured ten more he was struck by a notion that refused to budge even now, two months on, like a sliver of meat jammed between a gap in his teeth.

The notion, or idea if you will, was this. Had he been on the opposite pavement he would have died as surely as the woman and two children exiting Millward’s department store.

Two book deal – it’s official!

I’ve been holding back on my exciting announcement until I had the go-ahead from the marketing people. But now I can make it official. I recently sold my first two novels, Bone Machines and Kali’s Kiss to the major US audiobook company, Blackstone Audio.

This is a huge moment for me. Especially when I tell you that in 2011 Blackstone was nonimated for two Grammy awards in the audio section: one for a dramatisation of The Mark of Zorro starring Val Kilmer, and the other for a production of Hamlet.

I don’t yet know who the acting talent will be, but I do know the audiobooks will come out in various formats (CDs, and downloads) around August and September 2012.

At this point I’m holding back on the full marketing pitch, because I want to wait until release date is announced.

While both books are standalone, they feature Detective Inspector Tom Kendrick, who is a secondary character in the first book and moves more into centre frame in the second. Some people, who read the ebook version of Bone Machines, asked if Kali’s Kiss is a sequel. It’s not. The second novel covers completely different subject matter.

I’ll post full details once I know them.

Which Scottish actors would you like to hear performing the books?

Free or not free?

Lately I’ve been reading debates about challenges to internet freedom. While the threat that the US Government could potentially shut down what they see as problematic websites has been headed off at the pass meanwhile, a new debate has arisen. This one is about free file sharing.

Yes, I know the debate isn’t itself new – anyone remember the furore over Napster? – but now file sharing company Megaupload is facing charges for a crime that doesn’t technically exist.

As a writer, I would of course prefer it if people paid to read my books. But equally I have chosen to release some of my work for free. Arguably people who share stuff I’ve created without my permission are stealing it. However, is this really all that different from what most of us do in the real world? If we read a book we enjoy, we’re keen to pass our copy on to friends and family for them to read, too. Provided, of course, they give it back to us when they’re finished. I know years ago I happily copied friends’ records onto C-60, or C-90 cassette tapes, or record my favourite radio programmes (John Peel, RIP). None of which deterred me from also spending most of my pocket money, and a good chunk of my earnings when I started working, on records, books, the cinema and so on. But a borrowed book led me to many writers whose other books I shelled out my hard earned bucks for. Ditto music artists.

It’s a complex issue, I admit. If I likened myself to a builder, or a plumber, or an office worker, the ability to feed myself and family depends on people paying for my services. I would be rightly aggrieved if someone refused to pay me. In one sense if your work is creativity (musician, actor, writer) you should be accorded the same respect. But many creative people, some of whom have gone on record, see the file sharing thing as a type of marketing for their work.

There are pros and cons both sides of the argument. But, as far as the latest anti authoritarian campaign suggests, I can’t support their tactic of demanding that people stop buying books, CDs or going to the cinema for one day. Those who feel they have a God given right to take stuff for free have no right, in my view, to demand that people who chose to support creative artists add fuel to the fire by not paying for something they value.