• N is for Novel Writing


    Where does the time go?

    All of a sudden, I am way behind.

    More organised bloggers are posting S – and I am at N.

    I will make a concerted effort to catch up by Monday.

    I would love to report that I have been so caught up in writing my debut novel that my blogging has suffered.

    However, I have simply been caught up in ‘stuff’. Sorting out the garden, bits and pieces of corporate tasks, bits and pieces of golf club admin and other important, but uninteresting chores.

    Am I avoiding my novel?

    No. I’m not. I have gazed intently at my navel. (Not an easy task in itself) Sometimes, we have to concede that life can just get in the way.

    The novel is still being written, in my head. It will come out.

    I’m sure of it.

    Now – got to run, I have O,P,Q,R,S and T staring over my shoulder.

  • I is for International


    In my last post, I explained how the hero of my novel was living and working in Hungary. I expect that he will visit many more places in the course of his adventures. He will be an international hero.

    If you are here on a tour of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – then you most likely will cover the USA, Europe, Asia and beyond in just a few clicks.

    The rapid advances of technology and democratisation of travel are making it increasingly easy for all of us to be ‘international’.

    Migration is a hot political and social topic which I mentioned in “E for Elections” a few days back.

    Increasingly, the dividing lines between nationalities are disappearing.

    Just thinking of the extended families of my wife and I, we have relatives in Canada, Australia, USA, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Germany and Switzerland.

    The international theme is one that is increasingly common in many families.

    I think it is fantastic. I love that I am able to travel more, to see more places, experience more cultures, both through travel or through virtual experiences on the internet.

    Yet, for all of those positives, attempts to create a United States of Europe seem doomed to failure.

    In Scotland, very nearly 50% of residents who voted,  wanted to leave the United Kingdom.

    So – are we becoming more international? Or Less international?

    Is your nationality more or less important to how you think of yourself than it was for the generation before you?

    What do you think?



    A list of A to Z bloggers here.

  • H is for Hungary


    Hungary is a breathtaking country.

    The picture above is of the ‘Chain Bridge’ which spans the Danube between Buda and Pest, which together make up Hungary’s capital city.

    The bridge was designed by an Englishman called Clark, then built by a Scotsman, bizarrely also called Clark. How spooky is that?

    The potential for metaphors on the roles of the home nations within the United Kingdom throughout history is just too obvious.

    As a city, Budapest is up there with Europe’s great capitals. Some of the architecture is stunning, the people generous and fun and the language is so incomprehensible as to be charming.

    Helen Baggott has an amazing blog going on Rome. Worth a look here.

    Much though I love Rome, Budapest shades it for me. On and off, I lived in Budapest for the duration of the 1990s.

    Outside of the capital, landlocked Hungary has some great beaches on the shores of the Balaton lake and the magnificent Danube river. There are fabulous wine regions, plains, towns and cities. We shall visit some of them in another post.

    My ‘Work in Progress’ is largely set in Hungary.

    While the hero Sean visits many places that I know well, his adventures are mostly fictional, as if I wrote of things that really happened, then the reader would not believe me.

    Hungary was a wild place in the early nineties. The Berlin wall had crumbled, the USSR was in turmoil and a new era was beginning.

    It is in this milieu that Sean is trying to do his job and have fun. Sean works in currency – and so is a person of great interest to many parties, not all of them benevolent.

    Some of these people play very rough and young Sean will have to tread very carefully.


    Find some more blogs in the A to Z Challenge here.

  • D is for Death….


    The fourth day of the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.

    Thank you for reading and commenting. There are masses of blogs to check out. Here is a list.

    Death. Christians are now celebrating Easter, with Friday being all about death.

    An important and profound subject.

    Way too important and profound for me to tackle.

    I am writing about “Death to the Stock Photo“. Not really about death at all. This is a fantastic service provided by Allie Lehman and David Sherry for people like you and me.

    As my last post illustrates, I am a dreadful photographer.

    My shots require captions as explanations.

    Each month Allie and David send me a pack of beautifully crafted tableaux, absolutely free, which I am able to use here on the blog. There is one at the top of this post.

    There are, of course, great pictures all over the internet. Here is the thing, these photographs belong to people. They are creations.

    I aspire to write books, books that people might pay for. I daresay I am unlikely to demand masses of cash for my debut novel, but I know that I would be upset were I to find my work free all over the internet.

    Photographers, writers and other artists create. They invest heavily of themselves and toil to make their art as good as it can be. Most ask for very little in return. Some ask for recognition, some ask to make a living. (The very cheek of it!)

    Get yourself over to “Death to the Stock Photo‘ and sign up. There is a free service and there is also a subscription model (more artists looking to make a living, tsk, tsk) with completely unfettered access to a growing library of great shots.

    Quite apart from the fact that they take beautiful pictures, these guys seem really cool too.


  • Expert Raindancer for Hire

    IMG_0430I posted not long ago about the dangers posed to writers by sunshine. Somebody was listening.

    We had booked a week in Ajman (a lesser-known Emirate) certain that we would have uninterrupted heat and sunshine. We were half right.

    All around the pool, experienced visitors explained to us how they had never seen cloud like this at this time of year. As the raindrops fell onto our towels, friends posted on social media that they had lived in the Emirates for three years and had never seen rain.

    The silver lining must surely be no distraction. What else could I do, but boot up the wireless keyboard and the writing app on the iPad? It turns out that there were quite a few things that I could do other than write.

    Drink beer was one.

    Attempt to amuse a grumpy sun-worshipper spouse was another.

    Catching a vicious variant of the common cold was an unexpected insult to be added to meteorological injury.

    Not a word was added to the count in the soggy Emirate. Not a word was added in the week following as I bravely fought off the cold. (I know, pathetic.)

    In 2013, we brought rain to the Mayan Riviera. This year it was the turn of Emirates. Next year – we are going to rent our services to a country stricken by drought. I think that there is money in it.

    In the meantime – I might have to make this writing lark work; so off to the grindstone for me.

  • Oh No! The Sun’s out.


    Don’t get me wrong, I am usually partial to a bit of Spring and sunny weather. Right now, I am thinking that I need to be outside enjoying it rather than sitting at my desk writing about it.

    I bought and read a book yesterday. (This is a habit I encourage you, dear reader to develop. Keep an eye out for anything by Stuart Lennon).

    I found this particular book while wandering around in the slightly mad worlds of Twitter and Blogs. The book can be found on amazon (Click on the word book earlier in this sentence!)

    It is by a guy called Ben Adams. I enjoyed it. It is an easy read, and good fun. Ben is a little cagey about which bits are his experience and which are his imagination – but that is at it should be. We are British males. We don’t want too much of this metrosexual nonsense. We are uptight and proud of it, what?

    Currently, I am stalking Ben. He published ‘Six Months to Get a Life‘, his first book, in January and his blog records his experiences. Damn it.

    I will definitely use different pictures here if nothing else. He posted about #MondayBlog.

    You can read it here but essentially it is a hashtag which one can add to tweets. Fellow authors then pick up on this and retweet and favourite it.

    I only have a rudimentary understanding as to what the last sentence means, but I am hopeful that it is a good thing.

    This page is on a new theme. Again.

    Mrs L pointed out to me that having a ‘sign up’ box right at the bottom of the page was not necessarily very clever. So now it sits proudly top left.

    So…no excuse not to sign up now.

    Oh yes!

    The book. Sean is getting along OK. With my long and varied experience of Central European hangovers, I found writing about Sean’s remarkably easy.

    Until of course, the Sun came out.

  • ‘When words don’t come easy….’


    ‘When words don’t come easy, I make do with silence and find something in nothing’  Strider Marcus Jones – Poet.

    Well there’s a thought. Very nicely put Strider.

    Also, what a fantastically poetic name! You had me at Strider.

    Right now, words are coming easy in my little corner of Hampshire.

    My target is a paltry 500 words per working day, which should allow plenty of time for editing and rewriting before reaching my target self-publication date at the end of April 2016.

    By working days, I do not mean days spent in furious concentration in front of a screen; I mean weekdays.

    I know from experience that an easy target motivates me to get ahead, to ‘bank’ some overachievement against the inevitable days where the golf course, the pub, or indeed both, are just too seductive to resist.

    Therefore, the target is to be at 3500 by bedtime. At the time of writing, I am at 8,017.

    Today, one thousand words were in the bank before ten. I rose at six, walked the dog and was at the screen before eight thirty. For the book’s hero, it was Friday night. I have always been fond of Friday night, so words came easy.

    Now for all of you…

    Oh all right, for both of you:

    I am happy to reveal that the hero has been christened.

    Sean. Sean for a brother that I never knew.

    Now, I am going to have a little look at Strider’s Facebook page and maybe even mosey on to his Amazon page and buy a wee book.

    The photograph by the way comes courtesy of Death to Stock. Well worth a quick look too, if you blog.


  • The Secret to Becoming a Better Writer

    See! All of this perusing the internet is not a complete waste of time. I stumbled upon a site all about blogging in particular and writing in general. Brian Clark – has very kindly made the image above available.

    So the secret is out. He has even made a pdf available should you wish to produce your own poster. Really.

    A Writer writes.

    My project is going well. I have taken to heart the advice above. My focus is on getting words on paper (or at least into the computer). I am resisting the temptation to do too much editing at this stage.

    The logic being that there is always plenty of time to edit – but you cannot edit what is not there. It is difficult to argue with that.

    My target is to rattle off 500 words per working day as a minimum.

    So far, I have managed 5,000 words in the first five days, but I am realistic enough to realise that things are likely to get harder after the first flush of enthusiasm.

    Several hours today were spent on this site. I had chosen a theme where the focus was on everything except the posts – and it is the posts that this should be all about. So, I installed a new theme.

    I was feeling quite smug, until my wife asked me why I was bombarding Facebook with nonsensical posts.

    My apologies to everyone on Facebook and Twitter that I hit with my avalanche. This post is on purpose – but those this afternoon were not. Whoops.

    What am I looking for? I am looking for YOU. Yes, you there. I am new to this. Both to writing and to blogging.

    Sign up to the newsletter at the bottom of this page and it will drop into your mailbox each month.

    Comment on the posts – got some advice? Let me hear it. I have a lot to learn.

  • Permission Granted

    In the true spirit of active prevarication, I have spent some time reading lots and lots of resources about how to write a book. Believe me, there are a lot of them out there. One that I found interesting and helpful was Stephen King – On Writing. (I will make a point to learn how to post links here for Amazon.) Mr King writes from a position of authority – in that he sold millions of books. I shall write some more tomorrow. I hope that my day grappling with all things IT has cracked the blog / website thing and I can focus on content.