Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pineapple Express

Walking an overheated Dog this evening and came across a neighbour tending his garden. We said hi and did a bit of small talk about local gossip and the weather. Neighbour, being a local boy, knows all the little climatic quirks of our little patch of paradise, including a phenomenon he called the 'Pineapple Express'. Apparently this is a feature that occurs in mainly El Nino years, which raises temperatures and rainfall in the depths of winter, often raising the temperature to ten or eleven degrees. I recounted a few occasions when I had noted the wind direction has changed the local weather within a few hours, which, neighbour assured me was consistent with the aforesaid weather system. This particular wind comes from the South East, and things get pretty stormy, even in the comparative haven of the Narrows. Snow comes from almost due west during Winter, and calmer but very much colder weather from the North West.

Neighbour recounted meeting a couple of Environmentalists who had berated him about the large paper bag he had been carrying, virtually accusing him of being a 'tree murderer'. He had, like any good Canadian does, spoke his mind and told them about plant respiration. They apparently obeyed the Leninist maxim 'Advance with bayonet fixed, if you meet mush, continue, if you meet steel, withdraw.' Which in itself was very telling.
"They should read their damn History books." He remarked sharply. "All this fool talk about global warming. The Vikings had farms in Greenland a thousand years ago. Then a few hundred years later it got cooler again, and hundreds of thousands of people froze to death all over Europe."
"Yeah, they don't understand much about High School physics either." I agreed. "Or geology." Well, it seems to be true. We groused a bit about the two point four cents on every litre of gas as of Tuesday, and how pointless it all was.
"The weather all tracks the sunspot cycles." Neighbour opined, and for myself I agreed that in England at least,every 20-22 years we get a colder and snowier Winter with damp and miserable summers either side, which is what we're having now. Not so much every 10-11 years like in the basic sunspot cycle but certainly his postulation seems to fit the profile which suggests (At least in the current climate cycles) that there are weather cycles that fit in with a basic 10-11, 20-22, 63-66 year sunspot pattern. Despite it being the first day when temperatures ascended to the 29 degree celsius marker, according to neighbour it's been a cooler and wetter year than usual on Vancouver Island this year. He's expecting similar next year. Maybe a bit warmer the year after, and I'd take his word over ten million David Suzuki's, Al Gore's and James Hansen's. The man is a gardener, what we used to call on rural England 'old country' and in my half century on this planet I have found that kind of person appears to know more about the climate than anyone else.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Finallly, after just over five and a half months work I have a completed first draft. 130,000 words, and a consistent storyline with reasonably credible characters. I am so bloody tired I think I could sleep for a week. If it wasn't for Tim Hortons coffee (Which I now prefer to all others), I'd be doing a serious Rip Van Winkle.

Doing a lot of volunteer work right at the moment. Mostly for people who have disabilities and need special equipment. It's hard work and leaves me absolutely whacked, but I do it with a happy heart, so I'm not complaining.

Now the MSS is finished, I think I'll take a break from serious writing while the germ of the sequel arranges itself in my head. Once that process kicks in, I'll write the sequel, and see how that goes.

The Summer has finally arrived here near Nanaimo, and there's such a lot to look forward to; Barbeques, Picnics in the Park, the Bathtub races. Well it amuses me, and that's what counts. Might even get some fishing in, although that tends to be an evening pursuit. The future looks bright. Now where'd I put my shades?

Monday, June 23, 2008

First draft

Bit tired and iffy recently. Have written the last part of the MSS and find myself having to do a revision of the last ten thousand words. For all that, the first draft is almost complete except for part of the climax which needs changing to fit in with the storyline and plot. For all that, 'First Flights' is almost complete and ready for submission to whoever.

Might be leaving it a bit late, but once finished I can start work on the sequel and a couple of other projects. See what life brings. First I have to finish this one. Read an interview with Tom Clancy in a book called 'The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing' and am following his axiom "Tell the damn story". That's the best advice any aspiring writer can ask for.

I see one of the high priests of the Anthropogenic Global Warming Religion is at it again, demanding the imprisonment of people who don't think as he does. All I have to say to that is woof, woof, bloody woof. Someone is completely barking and it isn't me.

Stuff it. It's been a nice few days for a change although right this minute I feel I would like to sleep for a week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

All over the world

All over the world, with almost no exceptions, politicians are not listening to the electorate. Well, they say they listen, but then they do nothing about it but carry on with the same shit different day.

In Ireland, a significant majority have voted against ratifying the EU's Lisbon treaty which is effectively a top down, one size fits all federal constitution in all but name. The rest of the EU, despite all the pontifications to the contrary from the Europhile camp, look like ratifying the treaty anyway. Which rather confirms my suspicions that Democracy in Europe is effectively pushing up the daisies. In the UK, USA, Europe, and Canada, evidence is mounting that the whole AGW thing is a scam. The politicians stick their fingers in their ears and carry on with putting extra 'carbon' taxes on the economy which will require extra economic activity to pay them. More economic activity = more pollution = more tax = more economic activity needed. Only in the sphere of Gonzo economics can such a move be remotely considered 'carbon neutral'. Sheesh.

I'm in a pile of poo anyway. I got a bit stressed (I tossed the remote at the DVD player in disgust when... oh never mind) last night, and Wife didn't care for my behaviour. Today has not been easy for me. Have been thoroughly told off. Dog is currently in hiding under my chair. Wife is still annoyed. I needs must make amends.

What the hell. At least I'm within 10,000 words of finishing 'First flights'. The sun is shining. Could be worse.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


It's a bit strange, watching the news from the UK. Now they're going to allow 'terrorist suspects' to be locked up for a period of up to 42 days without charge or trial. No doubt the first people to suffer such detention will be campaigning OAP's who raise their voices during Labour party conferences or suchlike. However, the enabling act for this legislation has to pass through Britain's upper house, the House of Lords, which will very likely throw it out. Then the current administration will feel forced to use the Parliament Act to ramrod the whole poorly framed mess through as they have before.

Am also watching the weather reports with interest; a new report by researchers which is getting quite a lot of media coverage, states that permafrost melt will cause major problems in Canada and North America. I'm a bit dubious myself, as recent temperatures in the past year or so haven't shown indication of rising, rather the opposite. I know that one year doesn't make a trend, and there's more ice in Antarctica than of late. There were also reports of record ice packs during winter 2007/08, which rather makes me wonder. What with rather reduced solar activity and all. Some pundits are already resurrecting the old 1970's 'ice age' panic. What is it with these guys? We get enough Earthquakes and Cyclones without stirring up extra panics.

My view? There's not a lot you can do about the weather, it just happens, and slightly raised CO2 levels aren't enough to cause the variations we're seeing.

Notwithstanding all of the above, I'm feeling a bit prophetic because my 'First flights' MSS is written against a world where the ice caps have expanded due to reduced solar output, the North American continent has pursued an isolationist foreign policy for a hundred or so years, and an repressive and islamicised (But not truly Islamic) European Union is trying to metaphorically kick sand in everyone's faces. The story feels good with about 15,000 words to go to target.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Off day

Bit of an off day today. Output dropped to 1000 words, and most of that was pretty crap. I know when I'm writing well, and when what comes out of the world in my head is disjointed, clunky and basically rubbish. Today has been one of those days when nothing seems to fit.

Lead character is having a bit of a dilemma which is supposed to alter his motivation. Unfortunately it just ain't happening / not working. I need an alternative scenario consistent with plot and storyline for things to work out. Premises must run to conclusions, by leaps and bounds if need be, but story causality must be consistent with character and plot.

It's on days like these when you begin to question your abilities. When nothing goes right, when your keyboard plays traitor. Loads of typo's and mis-spellings. No fair. At present I just want to curl up in a corner with a bottle of whiskey and wash all the crap out of my head. Then go on the wagon for a week or two. This generally has the effect of either;
a) Clearing all the cruddy, useless storylines out of my head and leaving the good ones gleaming in the sunlight of reason.
Or more commonly;
b) Stopping the whole project dead in it's tracks.

This close to the finish line; b) is unthinkable. I think I need to go fishing. There's just too much craziness and irrationality out in the world which I don't want to / can't be arsed to respond to. I need time to take a break and ignore all the global warming lie crap / Political interference in life. I don't care if what I do is more like dredging weed than fishing.

Time to step away from the keyboard for a day or so.

BC Sunshine

Very wet last night. Got a slightly panicky phone call from friends about houses in Wisconsin sliding into a river. Lots of surface water but no flooding. The soil round here is pretty free draining and well supplied with drains and culverts, so any excess disappears fairly quickly into the sea less than a hundred metres away.

Busy heading down the home stretch of the main project manuscript and have sent my short story to 'Analog'. In all probability it will sink without trace, but you have to keep trying in this game. I keep reading about writers whose work keeps getting rejected as non-commercial by publishers, then the work (occasionally) turns into commercial success, unlike so many that catch the publishers eye. Must be a matter of taste, and proof that literary taste or merit does not guarantee sales.

Back to the grindstone.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

We are just about.............. here

Now tell me it's all about excess CO2..........

Strange dreams

The past few weeks my dreams have been full of grey, machine like shapes which are probably an imagination overflow from the current project. This morning I woke up with a head full of Orca's and Dolphins. Go figure.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A hundred and one........ thousand....... words!

Have just crossed the magical six figure marker, and for a change am cruising along nicely, with the end of the story demonstrably in sight at 115-120,000 words. This will be forty thousand words longer (And I think far better) than anything else I've ever written before. The narrative fairly rips along at light speed plus. Ee, I'm dead chuffed, me. The science works too.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Congressman Dana Rohrbacher

We could do with a few more people willing to speak out against the lies like this gentleman did on May 14th. As Wife pointed out, when there are politicians willing to speak up like this, then the panic mongers and snake oil salesmen have not won. He is to be applauded for his courage. A few of his kidney north of the 49th Parallel and elsewhere would be an improvement. Well done Congressman.

H/T Anthony Watts

Am also cheered by the USA threatening to take the UK to court over the imposition of extra airport taxes. It has got to the point where the taxes exceed the cost of the flight, and for what? A phantasm, a bogeyman, a ghastly illusion only kept alive by people who 'adjust' figures to meet their incomplete climate models. Not that any money so raised would be put to any climate protection use, nor that such funds ever could. Their AGW Emperor has no clothes and deep down they know it.

God bless America.

Now I have a Manuscript to finish. Spent half this morning feverishly plotting the blockbuster ending where most of the story threads come together in a real slam dunk denouement. Then comes the hard part; selling the monster that has possessed me so these past few months. Maybe it will come good this time; I feel good about it. The sun is shining, and there's a boat fair on in the Harbour this weekend.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A sense of the familiar

Walking Dog this morning in the rain, and for a moment I was back in soggy old England. The climate in this part of Vancouver Island occasionally reminds me of the land of my birth, especially when it's wet and grey. Like games of cricket when rain was forever stopping play back in the 60's and 70's. Standing under awnings with a steaming mug of tea in my hand, watching the splashes as the downpour prevented play. Then there's the greenery of it all, although the tree species are different, and in BC the whole place is wall to wall trees. Sometimes the smell of natural Pine and damp earth in the forest is simply overwhelming.

If you just half close your eyes, you could be back in rural England somewhere near the Welsh borders. Maybe even western lowland Scotland.

Then a bloody great Bald Eagle flies overhead.

I live in Canada. Never fails to put a smile on my face.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hazards to navigation

Down in the Dodd Narrows is not really a place for full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes boating at the moment. There really is a lot of floating log debris out there. I put it down to the tides, which have gone from quite low, right to the bottom of the inter tidal range, to right up to the top of the beach, which floats off all the massive logs that have been resting quite happily on the foreshore for some time, now letting the currents gently waft them out into the middle of the tidal flow to lurk in wait for some hopelessly gung-ho boating individual in a hurry. No one has been sunk to my knowledge yet, but I'm sure that come the weekend there might be some dented or holed hulls.

While walking Dog, have been pondering the nature of the term 'Extelligence', which was coined by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen of Warwick University back in 1997. Although some have criticised it as being little more as a neologism, for myself, being a wordsmith of a middling sort, I'm inclined to think that all words began that way, and the field of Computing releases a flood of jargon into the English language every year, as did the Space age, the industrial revolution and every societal adaptation before and since English began to be formalised in medieval times. English is a constantly evolving language, whose main rules are often treated as little more than rough guidelines by those who claim it as their mother tongue.

My own personal definition of extelligence is 'If you don't know something - look it up'. An Internet connection can make you highly extelligent to a degree, but then you have to use your own intelligence and reasoning abilities to examine the source and compare it against other sources. To put it in the words of my forbears; 'Don't believe everything you read'. You have to learn to be discriminating instead of just regurgitating the opinons of others. A quick Google (Itself a recent word-invention) on any given topic will find the web sites and opinions of any number of 21st century snake oil salespeople selling 'health' products, promoting whatever it is they have to sell; be that Gadgets, Philosophy, Politics, Holistic Therapies, their own particular brand of hypochondriasis, Religion or cult.

Although I have a fairly jaundiced view of my own level of intelligence, and question it on a daily basis, I'm often astounded at the failures of reasoning in others, and often have to work very hard to conceal that surprise. Wife constantly chides me for 'frowning' (i.e. scrunching up my forehead in amazement) when I see or hear something that jars or conflicts with previously held reasoned conclusions.

Although having considered that, perhaps I am just cautious in navigating the hazards of mental navigation. Hmm. Cute. Back to the MSS.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A little motivation

After the small knock back of the other day, I have discovered within myself a determination that all the rejections in the world aren't going to stop 'First flights' making it out into the public domain. Even if I have to self publish and make it available only as a download or eBook. Too much work has gone into the project to stop now. In the past, I might have put the project 'on the back burner' or shoved it in a dusty bottom draw like so much earlier work because no mainstream publisher seemed to want it. This time round I'm going the distance, the whole nine yards.

'Breakthrough' is going for submission to one of the mainstream magazines in hard copy format on Friday. It's ready.

Today I have a characters motivation to work on. My own is not going to be a problem.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Well, that was quick

Wrote a polite e-mail to a magazine with a broad brushstroke outline of the story I wanted to submit, included my UK writing credits just as an introduction to say I wasn't a complete tyro. About three hours later I received a polite, but rather wordy refusal.

That has to be the quickest rejection slip I ever received. Not even a reading. Just like my previous five or six submissions to various magazines. None of my work has even been read by any commercial publisher since 2005 / 2006. It's a bit spooky when no one seems to want to touch your work with a barge pole.

The work is good and of publishable standard. Wife, who has a degree and has taught English professionally proofs all my stuff. She liked the story and thought it was of merchantable quality, and I trust her judgement. She's quite open about what she thinks is and what most definitely isn't up to snuff. It's not as if I was trying to fob the publisher off with shoddy work or a hack job. It was an original piece, but drawn from the backstory of my current full length project. Just one of those stories that doesn't fit in with the main theme, yet is associated because it shares a sub thread.

It's at times like these you get to wondering if there's not some internal memo passed between publishers with the names of writers who should never be allowed to get their works in commercial print. Some form of informal blacklist. Blacklists exist, and have existed for many years, ever since Ug the caveman was forbidden to make buffalo drawings on the cave walls by the local Shaman because Ug had publicly told the Shaman that he was a doddery old fraud. From neglect, omission, carelessness or malice, it occasionally feels like I've found my way on to one. I bloody well hope not.

Notwithstanding, submission is a pricey business for a would be author. Magazine and Publishers who do not accept electronic submissions, and there are quite a lot of them, require double spaced typing on A4 sheets bound in a particular manner. This costs the writer money, often money he / she doesn't have. Paper isn't cheap, ink for printing isn't cheap. As for the year or five of near non-stop effort in order to put together the base manuscript, well, that isn't cheap either. Neither is the packing or postage. A full 120,000 word manuscript is a weighty thing. Trying to write a novel (Or any other length of story) can be like paying the mill owner for permission to come to work.

In the meantime, I shall be taking my time and doing what I do. Write the story, get Wife to check it out, and adding it to the pile of unsold material. I'll punt a couple of things across to the big guys and see what happens. If no-one wants to buy, then all the people who tell me that they wonder why there is so much fantasy and space opera out there, and so little 'hard' sci-fi, are going to be a missed market opportunity.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Short stories

As the main project is drawing to a close, I'm electing to write a few short stories based around the timeline and backstory of 'First flights' to see how well they will be received. Completed a 3,580 word tale yesterday and am submitting it to a Sci-Fi magazine based in Victoria of all places. I'll go for the small stuff first off rather than join the immense queue for submissions to the more mainstream publications like Analog, Azimov's and Fantasy & Sci-fi. At least this way the feedback / rejections should be fairly quick. To be honest I'll be totally gobsmacked if they take anything from a relative sci-fi unknown like me.

As a (very minor) sci-fi fan since my mid teens (I'm a geek, bite me), it's often pissed me off that stuff I refer to as 'space opera' or fantasy has taken precedence over what I call 'hard' science fiction, that at least has some connection with the real physical laws of the Universe and real people, with real motivation. No, I'm not a Trekkie, and thought Babylon 5 (At first) had better characters and overall story arc. What the hell, those are my prejudices. Wife is a fan of Farscape, and we both thought Firefly was cool (Overtones of American West post civil war).

Science Fiction as a genre is rather looked down upon by mainstream literature as something for the immature, yet I would beg to differ. Good writing is good writing. Dialogue that fits the characters is good characterisation (I always try to write a characters dialogue with their voice in my head). Oh, what the hell, time for a well deserved cup of tea and a cookie.

If all goes well, I may even carve a little niche for my own stuff, or it will sink into obscurity. Who knows?