Tag Archives: 2016

DST50

Hello Dear Reader

DST50

What might you ask is DST50? Well, this weekend a 50th birthday (of sorts) was celebrated at the NEC Birmingham. Star Trek, one the top five sci-fi franchises reached 50 years. DST50 was Destination Star Trek 50. I had known about this for some time, both the birthday and event, however, I was unsure about returning to something of my past.

Confession. I used to go to Trek conventions and they were always damm good fun. Held in hotels for the main (apart from one brilliant holiday camp), hundreds of Trek fans would gather to watch episodes new and old, see actors, new and old and meet friends, yes new and old. It was very British in how the conventions were run. Groups of fans bid for the rights and they were voted for by fans.

I do have something of a minor reputation in that at two separate conventions I slightly raised my profile. Although no-one really knew, I believe that due to a very interesting phone call with the BBC, I managed to convince a deputy controller (how I got through one only knows) that the end of season 3 Next Gen was a cliffhanger. How I knew that was through a convention. My other claim to fame was speaking out in a group discussion at a convention. I thought Start Trek Next Gen (not seen in the UK at the time) was basically Roddenberry’s way of exploring future history. My argument was based on naval history. There had been, for example, many ships called Ark Royal, all having different Captains and crew. All Next Gen was doing, was taking that same idea and moving forward from the original series. I was almost given the odd ‘phaser’ stare until a close friend of Roddenberry’s stated that was what he was trying to achieve.

So, many years and many conventions later we reached DST50. Let me say that, somethings move on, it’s right and proper. I made the decision to go very late, in fact with three days to go. On Sunday I did sort of get excited to revisit something of my youth. But, as I walked in I could feel bits missing. This convention was in one of the big NEC halls, not the confined space of a hotel. It was open, way too open for my liking. I needed that hotel feeling I guess. Yet, Star Trek was there. The fans, the costumes, replica sets, back to the old and new. The line-up of actors huge and some I had not seen before. A few friends thought it would be crowded, but no, there was room in fact at times I missed the crush of a small space to watch an episode.

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I did get a buzz, I enjoyed one talk in particular, ‘For the Love of Spock’. That for me was the highlight and I made sure I grabbed my chance to say thank you to the host. Yet, friends were missing. It made me hanker for an old style convention. Staying up til 3am with a bunch of Klingon’s or drinking watching ‘The Doomsday Machine’ for the 10th time that weekend.

Some say (not that show), you can never go back. I disagree but then I would.

DST50 did what it said on the tin. It celebrated Star Trek at 50. Did I really enjoy the time travel? Yes, in a new way. Did it make me think of going back to conventions? Yes. Maybe time to do a little surfing.

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Tagline: ‘To boldly go where many of us went many times before’

My Writing Process

Hello All

My Writing Process

I recently posted a blog about my first e-book, Zen and The Art of Timetabling. Many have asked me about the process involved, in order to publish my book.

At first, I thought that was very easy to write. But then I tried to remember what my process actually was. I realised, to be honest, my process was very haphazard. In fact, I can learn from my chaos.

As I said before, I started the book more as rules and then kept going. I had no real process at the start, just writing. I suspect that is how many of us begin, just writing. The process started after I realised I had more than just a report, but not where I might have ended. After my first rough draft, the process began by mapping out what chapters I might need. This helped me construct the book and allowed me to focus on a variety of topics and subjects. Mind-mapping is key to any book I feel, it allows you to track characters, subject matter, scenes and more. Mine did not have characters as such, yet still needed that part.

Once I had completed the full first draft (I was unsure of how many times I would do this loop), I had on my hands a ‘product’. Again, looking back it is hard to describe anything I did next as a process. But I feel people can use my experience as the foundations of a process.

Here are some of the things I looked into after I finished my first draft;

Looked into editors and proof-readers

Looked into publishers

Looked into self-publishing

Looked at computer publishing software

Looked at sites such as Amazons KDP, Smashwords etc

Listed pros and cons of the above

Made notes on various companies based on information from the Internet, writing magazines and the Writers Artist Yearbook.

Set out my needs based on the above (what did I want?)

Set a budget

Get quotes

Make my decision

That is not what many would recognise as a process, however, it formed I guess the basis of my process when I look back. Being my first book, I did not have any idea about where this would take me. I know now I can do this a lot better given the experience. If I was to map out a process it would look something like this;

  • The Idea
    • Which idea are you going to write about?
  • The Synopsis
    • This gives you the scope, creates the boundaries and can be used later
  • The Map
    • This shows you the paths, the characters, places and let’s you time travel. It can be as simple as the chapter headings as I used. I added a brief note which made it simple to expand or move information as needed.
  • The Draft
    • Sounds obvious and it is. It’s the place at which you decided to go forward, rewrite (you will edit later) or maybe save for another day.
  • The publication route
    • So you now have reached the point where you want to publish. The list I mentioned I would say is a one-time in-depth deal. You can do that before you write. What this point means is are you self-publishing or finding a publisher.
  • The Edit
    • I know I am stating the obvious but you can either do this yourself or spend some money and get a professional independent view. I did the latter and it proved to me I had something worth publishing. You will revisit this a few times.
  • The Publisher
    • If you pick self-publishing there are two routes here; you do all the work or you go to a company that will publish you. This is different from a publisher. You can just create a Word or Scriber document and place it onto the web. You may get something from it or not. You won’t have an ISBN, maybe a cover, maybe some web presence. That’s your choice. If however, you pick a self-publishing company, they can help get you an ISBN, create a cover, place your book in the right spots. With the company I used YPS, I retained all rights both as the author and publisher. My book sits in the British Library (very proud) and I have a presence on the web.
  • The Marketing plan
    • Just getting your book into Amazon or YPS Bookstore is one thing. You need a plan to sell it, push it to people, social media, a web site and whether you want hard copies or e-book.

I guess I could write a book on how I wrote the book. It feels like I have written so much more since I completed this. Yet I still am unsure of a fool-proof process that I used. What I have detailed is my best remembrance of all I did. There were hundreds of hours spent re-editing, checking proofs, approving covers, writing my biography and synopsis. Even writing this and something for two magazines has taken time.

Would I do this again? Yes. Have I learnt what to do better next time? Yes. Would I encourage anyone with a book in mind to try this? Yes.

I hope this helps.

National Arboretum

Hello Dear Reader

National Arboretum

A few days ago, a decision was made. Where can we visit? A few locations came up including shopping, DIY (not the best location) or somewhere new. The national arboretum is one of those places I have seen many times on news reports. It has been created to honour so many lost soles and is surrounded by hope and remembrance. However, I had not visited. Today was the day.

To those who don’t know, here are a few facts and figures about the site.  It contains over 300 memorials in 150 acres, with some 30,000 trees and bushes. It commemorates a huge number of branches both military and non-military over numerous campaigns.

Why visit? Well for me, I have family members who served in world wars. However, the visit was not just for that reason. I was curious at what I might find. Would this be just a somber, dark reminder of past events or something that would serve as the focus point? It was in fact, the latter.

It is odd. You can walk around thousands of trees and forget what you are seeing and then turn a corner to find a statue, a man carrying his wounded friend. You stop and read the reason for this monument and be reminded of the heroic acts that took place.

Strangely enough, it is not only a sad place. There are many emotions I suspect, that runs through both the place and the people. There has to be given its nature. The mixed emotions, curiosity, Sadness and more, all there as people wandered around. There is no set way to see the place, you just walk through history, so to speak.

The one thing you can not truly picture, for me, is the loss of life that each memorial stands for. Even if it is a hand full, it is just not clear. I doubt even a series of numbers could help.

As for a day out, well it was a pleasant warm sunny day. There will be a new visitors centre soon and I am sure that will help keep this spot the memory so many deserve.

Tagline: “Remember”

http://www.thenma.org.uk

Social Media

Hello Dear Reader

Social Media

I recently thought of how to increase my readership. These little blogs seem to spark interest but how do you break into the top end of a growing market? Will a big name always  draw people to read about a film review for example. Also, social commenting appears to be an increasing trend. At least that is what I feel.

I have never expected many comments from you, my reader but some feel it’s both important and required. Many now just click ‘Like’ as in a number of major sites. Is that because they like the picture or do not wish to comment and leave themselves open to a response? Maybe, it is because they are unsure of what is the social protocol. Is it in fact, how the blog has been written, restricting the reader to comment?

Unlike a novel, a blog can be many things. It can advise about the best places to eat or give a review of a film. The growth in personal blogs means that to attract the right reader, let alone any reader is a new art. Yet I feel there are ways to do just that. You could offer to sell space on your site, giving a small revenue as well as promoting a product. My view here is that to offer that space, you first need regular visitors. If you only have the odd one or two, is it worth it?

The other way is to join communities online. Without trying to mention anyone in particular, some now use shapes. There has always been the phrase, ‘my circle of friends’, in terms of the internet it is now becoming a circle of communities. You can find like-minded people for just about any subject. Here you can express your own views, you can find written work to like and comment on.

The BBC produced what they see as the new class test. Years ago, a comedy sketch showed how the three classes viewed each other. Three men, John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett, stood in line and gave a satirical view of each class. To many, the names may not mean much so here is a link to the sketch. Now you understand.

It was really simple. The upper class looked down on all, the middle class looked up and down whereas the lower class could only look up. ‘I know my place’ said Corbett. There are now 7 different classes or as the BBC think. One interesting addition is the use of social media. This gives a strange outlook in my view, as someone could have little money and yet be very socially active. Is this right?

I started this blog about how to increase my readership. So what have I done. Well, I joined a few shapes, increased my online circle of communities. It had instant success and produced a couple of nice comments. What would I like? I really would like to publish both my novel and poems. Can I do that? Yes, because avenues have opened. Will I do it? Yes, because that is a goal I have set myself.

Would I like more readers? If I am honest then yes I would.

With every post you open yourself up to the negative comments. I am sure that will happen one day. It’s how one deals with the negative rather than waiting for the positive in my opinion.

Tagline: Just 1 more reader or 100?