Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

November's GDR Review

My back is on the mend. When I got up this morning it wasn't as much of a strain though it does still feel very stiff. The tightness is going and the muscles feel more relaxed. Thank goodness it's not as sore. The thought of another day with constant back pain didn't fill me with much joy and I was contemplating taking a day off to lie on a wooden floor.

The final of three poems I had selected by Circadian Poems for publication went up this moring. Brunette is a personal favourite of mine. It was written in Finnegan's Wake one sunny afternoon over a pint, while I waited for my pal to join me for a Ska gig in the Liquid Rooms. I wrote several poems that afternoon, but this one came out with such life and character after a girl had sat down next to me at the bar.

A new Scruffy Dog Press Release went out today written by Devon Ellington. It's an excellent piece of copy and hopefully it will help to generate more interest in the magazine. The launch is only a month away now but we have up to March almost full with the submissions we've had. I think it's going to be a great experience. The Scruffy Dog Review

Did a few updates on the websites based on the above two links but also because some people have actually got the answer to the Fringe Fantastic Competition WRONG!! Just to clear things up, the ANSWER is already ON THE WEBSITE!! So if you got it wrong, it shows you haven't done your reading! Dear oh dear. I can't make it any easier folks! Two of the people who got it wrong actually LIVE in Edinburgh (or used to)!

In case you forgot, here's the question again.

In what month of the year does the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place? Click here to submit your entry .

I'm now officially shitting myself about the delivery of my books. I got in touch with the publisher and guess what - there's a problem with the shipping. The company they use are experiencing difficulty through high demand caused by Christmas orders coming in for the November 25th deadline. So, although the books are all sitting printed and bound, there's none of them going anywhere.

As a good friend of mine would say; SIMPLY NOT ACCEPTABLE!

I sent an urgent email to the support staff; the first time I have had to do so. Let's hope they are as good as they say they are.

Devon Ellington who posted a response yesterday made me think. Thinking back, I confirmed the manuscript on the 24th November - 8 days (6 working days) prior to launch date. Maybe I did leave it too late. Hopefully there's some way round this to speed it up. All part of the learning curve I suppose.

Devon also mentioned Victor, the Jamaican jakey from Leith who appears in Hunting Jack. There's more this man than meets the eye. Thinking about him, we're never really let into his background. He gets annoyed with Jackie at the mention of his parents and why he ended up on the street in the first place. And how come he knows so many of Leith's dodgy characters so well? I always intended to have an air of mystery about him but maybe some more explaining is required. In the next re-write of Hunting Jack I may well include more on him, so long as it doesn't take away from his mystery. Dare I say, he would have been perfect for a KIC novella! Thanks for the comments, Devon.

I sent in my entry to the Getty Images Change Me competition. You can publication and all that kind of stuff, but for every submission received, Getty donate $10 to the Make Poverty History campaign. Here's the image I wrote 200 words on that hopefully, would make someone think more deeply about themselves. Once the competition is closed I'll publish my entry here.

It's time for the penultimate GDR Review of 2005. This month we look at November, because that's what we do at the end of November, for the November GDR. Confused? You shouldn't be if you're a regular reader. But then, I'm the writer and I am. Don't you wish I'd just shut up and get on with it?

November GDR Review

* Submit Whisky Snatching to WM (deadline Jan' 06) - complete
* Query What A Waste to target markets - complete (Scotsman/Herald/Guardian)
* Work out plot to fit the album Stella by Yello - complete. WIP started 11/11/05
* Read, edit and publish nine issues of Hunting Jack for PSH Contest - complete and all published
* Read, edit and review remaining issues of Hunting Jack with view to publishing - ongoing (51/81 done)
* Keep on top of submissions list - done. Do another round sometime in December
* Think about Jackie McCann and A Friend To Die For manuscripts - Decided to move HJ into a trilogy. A Friend to Die For has been delayed by work on Stella, which is turning out to be a much larger piece of work.

* No specific work. Write as the moment takes - no new poetry written this month.

* Chase up query for How-To Create an E-book For Free article and dig out new markets (last chased on 17/10/05. Replied 8/11/05 asking to resend due to tech probs. Resent 10/11/05). Accepted 11/11/05 for publication in December issue
* Complete latest articles for Great Scottish Authors series - Janice Galloway (complete), Muriel Spark (complete), Iain Banks (WIP), Edwin Morgan (complete) (subbed to Circadian poems - accepted for Nov 15th)
* Complete Ian Rankin interview for Scruffy Dog Review - still only got the transcript. Article only a rough draft. Needs complete by Dec 15th deadline.
* Complete Ian Rankin interview for Great Scottish Author's Series - abandoned. Don't see point in repeating above work.
* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology - pending
* Start first issue of Scotland's Treasure for TSDR (plan for theatre, gig, art) - First article planned. Field research pending.
* Write five weekly blog entries for TSDR - complete (Walter Scott, Bleak House, Milne's, Writers' Museum, Power of Words)

Marketing and Promotion
* Market and promote Fringe Fantastic (see spreadsheet for full details) - major WIP and up to date
* Print bookmarks for Hunting Jack and Brick by Brick (for all Fringe Fantastic see spreadsheet) - pending
* Keep website up to date - done

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild - Waverley? not sure where to leave it!
* Finish research book for unpublicised future project - complete. Project is in fact, Stella.
* Start reading some new books from my pile of 'waiting to be read' - read some books of tropical fishkeeping and Rankin's new book, Rebus's Scotland.

Other Projects
* Stay on top of submission readings for TSDR - done
* Editoral work for TSDR; readings, blog, bookshelf etc. - Jan issue readings complete. Bookshelf done. Authors contacted

Things That Turned Up
* Resigned from KIC 1/11/05
* Idea to look at writing and submitting something for BBC Radio 4. Could be a venue for the Play version of What a Waste
* Getty Images, Change Me project for Make Poverty History - done. Wrote about racism through an image of white man holding black man's throat.
* Intend to submit first couple of chapters to Undiscovered Authors competition once HJ first redraft complete
* Asked to write piece on Robert Burns for Circadian Poems celebration of Burns' Night in January

* Writer-On-Line accepted How To Create An E-book For Free. To be published in December issue
* Circadian Poems published Perfect Apple 4/11
* Fringe Fantastic proof copy arrived and confirmed on 15/11
* Edwin Morgan: Scotland's Makar, accepted for publication by Circadian Poems and published 15/11
* Circadian Poems published Empty 16/11
* Launched Fringe Fantastic Website on 21/11
* Circadian Poems published Brunette 30/11

* Fringe Magazine rejected The Oasis 1/11
* The Barcelona Review rejected Loaded 2/11
* One Story rejected Heart of a Child 4/11
* Summerset Review rejected Daffodils and Loaded 7/11

Fiction - 4000
Non-Fiction - 4900
Blog (inc.TSDR) - 19300

Outstanding Submissions
1 short story to The Edge
1 short story to Writing Magazine
1 short story to the Big Ugly Review
1 short story to the Portable Muse
1 short story to Thirteen Magazine
1 short story to One Story
2 short stories to Wildchild
1 short story to Adirondack Review
1 short story to Fringe Magazine
1 short story to Gorlan
1 short story to The Sunday Herald
1 short story to Scotland on Sunday
1 short story to Guardian Online
4 poems to Storyhouse
1 article to Interactive Dad

As predicted, it's been a good month. A large chunk of time went towards the publishing, marketing and promotion of Fringe Fantastic but I also managed to get through a lot of other work. I'm a bit annoyed I never devoted more time to Stella though it's hard to quantify with so many hours going on the book promotion. I don't enjoy the marketing bit too much, not as much as the writing anyway, but I feel I have to put my all into it if I am to give the book a chance. All part of the process, as they say.

There's been a lot of failures but a lot of success too. The amount of rejections is directly attributable to the high amount of submissions I've been doing. But the number of acceptances has been encouraging also. This includes my first ever paid non-fiction assignment and the acceptance of a 'how-to' article to be published in December.

It's been a month of change, too. I resigned from KIC, so from tomorrow I'll be contract-free and I also feel that I've grown some-what this month. A lot of it is to do with Fringe Fantastic being released but a lot of it to do with the work on Stella I did. Some of it is to do with the work that came along during the month. But I'm also starting to feel very confident, which I don't think is bad, but I don't want to get over-confident. I'm enjoying my writing at the moment - every part of it - so long may that continue.

Looking ahead, Fringe Fantastic gets launched on Friday on the back of a pretty big promotional campaign, lots more work to do on Stella, Hunting Jack (big plans), editorial duties for The Scruffy Dog Review and I'll have to start planning out 2006. I've got a holiday up in the Scottish highlands to look forward to at the end of the month, which always provides me with the perfect inspiration and way to charge my batteries for another year's progress.

PRE-ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC! Click here to order securely using your credit/debit card.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please see the website at:

I'm giving away FIVE free copies of Fringe Fantastic, signed and with their own special bookmark. All you have to do to enter, is answer one simple question (the answer is IN the website!!) before Friday 9th December:

In what month of the year does the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place?

To submit your entry, click here: Enter the Fringe Fantastic Competition.

Alternatively, email your answer, along with your name and address to
Colin 9:21 am | 2 comments |

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Back Pain

Three days to go!

Got through a load of Hunting Jack issues today. I found myself bursting out laughing with some of the lines I gave to old Victor, the Jamaican bloke from Leith. What a character he is; I should do more with him. The only problem is the phonetic dialect that's used. It makes his accent read naturally and so the humour comes out easier, but it takes ages to get it right on paper.

I got all the emails completed for sending out on Friday morning. There are about 30 in total, some reinforcing contacts and others first timers. I'm about two thirds through the ten-week marketing programme, and by the end of this week I should be at around 80% complete.

An email came in first thing from the Assistant Editor at Scotland Magazine responding to my letter I sent last night. She has asked for a copy of the book for review, so once they arrive I'll send one out to her.

I'm getting a bit worried about the books not being here yet. Three days left and still nothing; I fully expected to have them in my possession. This could present a problem because the more requests for publicity that I can't fulfil immediately, the more I will look poorly organised. Plus there is the competition to fulfil and all the pre-orders I'm taking now. I'm getting lots more entries to the competition than I am pre-orders. I think most people want to try and win a copy before buying one.

All my web stats have gone through the roof and I can only assume it's down to the increased activity generated by FF. Once the rest of the PR's go out I'm wary, but hoping for all these hits to be generated into sales.

My weekly article was posted to The Scruffy Dog Review Blog - this week about the power mere words can have throughout history.

My back was been like hell all day. No matter what position I sat, stood or walked in I cold feel the pain, which seemed to be spreading across my back. Gail rubbed Deep Heat into it before I went to bed. The stuff reeks but I could feel it working almost immediately, burning its way into my core. I'm getting really fed up of moaning about it, but it's a major inconvenience and it's bloody sore!

PRE-ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC! Click here to order securely using your credit/debit card.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please see the website at:

I'm giving away FIVE free copies of Fringe Fantastic, signed and with their own special bookmark. All you have to do to enter, is answer one simple question (the answer is IN the website!!) before Friday 9th December:

In what month of the year does the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place?

To submit your entry, click here: Enter the Fringe Fantastic Competition.

Alternatively, email your answer, along with your name and address to
Colin 12:19 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, November 28, 2005

Press Releases, Press Releases

Four days to go!

I hardly slept. The gurgling and awkward squeaking noises emanating from my belly went on well into the night. I was up and down various times throughout the night and by 4am I contemplated staying up. But I didn't, for I was shattered at not getting any sleep. I tried lying on my back and front or my sides; nothing seemed to ease the discomfort of the Madras as it worked its merry way through my alimentary canal. I shall rue its deliverance later today.

I found myself in quite a bad mood today. I got to work just wanting to get on with what I had to do but found myself getting annoyed at everything going on around me. Cheeriness on this particular morning didn't seem to sit well and I started to resent anyone with a smile on their face. Then the self-centred element of the office started to get on my wick and I had to leave the room to get some calm air. This place is full of the most amazing pretentious arseholes who seem convinced of their own self-importance.

The pain in my shoulder is back with a vengeance. The pain runs vertically under the base of my left shoulder blade and down my back, making it fee like I've been skewered by a spike. I can literally feel the knot of muscle that is responsible for the constant dull pain. If I turn, twist or move my upper body in any direction it is really sore and I feel winded. I'll have to get Gail to work her magic on it later on. I'm pretty sure it's a result of the way I slept.

Update on the Taser debate.

"A naked Florida man was accidentally shocked in the genitals by a police Taser while breaking windows, and asking women to touch him inappropriately."

My opinion remains unchanged.

I sent off all the hard copy press releases today. All but The Scotsman and The Herald, which are the only two I will actually send a copy of the book for review without asking. The rest are on request, but I've sent them loads of information and lovely PR's with a colour picture of the cover in the corner. Once I take delivery of the books I'm getting for promotion, I'll send them off.

The emails had to be adjusted slightly, but I'll wait until Friday before sending them off. Some are to the same publication and so these will reinforce the hard copy. Others are their main contact media so fingers crossed.

All the web-based press releases were set up to go live on Friday at midnight and one of them now allows me to include a free image of the cover, which is good.

I emailed every community library in Edinburgh with a view to them stocking my book. Hopefully some will get back to me.

I've been asked to write a piece on Robert Burns as part of the Circadian Poems tribute to Burns' Night in January. I have already written an article on his life this year as part of my Great Scottish Authors series, so I intend to make this quite a bit different.

When my Papa died nineteen years ago (Grandfather on my Dad's side), I was given his pocket book of Burns' Poems. I still have it and quite often flick through the pages of the small red book. Only an inch by an inch and a half, it contains all of his work, and so I intend to use it to develop a suitable, exciting and informative article on Burn's life, the traditions of Burns' night, and what it means to the Scottish people.

I wrote a thousand words on Stella up to end of chapter 3. Randolph, my protagonist, is now in Morocco, in a place called the Desert Inn. This chapter will see the end of the Part one; the background of what happened twenty years ago and the scene-setting to Part two, which concentrates on the title character, Stella. Part three will be the climax, bringing the two of them together and packed with an explosive twist that will explain everything.

PRE-ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC! Click here to order securely using your credit/debit card.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please see the website at:

I'm giving away FIVE free copies of Fringe Fantastic, signed and with their own special bookmark. All you have to do to enter, is answer one simple question before Friday 9th December:

In what month of the year does the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place?

To submit your entry, click here: Enter the Fringe Fantastic Competition.

Alternatively, email your answer, along with your name and address to
Colin 8:43 am | 2 comments |

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mad Man In Tesco

Five days to go!

A nice relaxing start to the final day of the week; just what the doctor ordered. I poached a couple of eggs on toast and enjoyed a lovely hot coffee with a read of The Sunday Herald.

I had some 'Sunday tasks' to take care of also. I backed up my PC (I'm doing this regularly now with clearly marked discs since last weeks traumatic cock-up with my Madness CD). I also replaced the water in the fish tank, giving Smashie some nice clean water for him to breathe in.

Laura spent the afternoon at the annual Pantomime outing with her Gran and cousin's, which meant me and Gail could go shopping. I was mostly bored beyond belief and ended up finding my own lack of inability to enjoy trawling aisles of Tesco's for bargains quite funny. Gail was not amused, however, as my laughter rose to a crescendo and I double over over unable to walk, my stomach in pain at the laughter. People started to look at me as though I were mad. Which of course, I suppose I had to have been.

Next door to where we were shopping was a huge pet store. I'd never been out that way before so we popped in. It was excellent. They had loads of rabbits, gerbils, hamsters and chipmunks and a large aviary at the back, which made a hell of a noise from all the varieties of species. There was also a large aquarium section, with a great choice of fishes and equipment. I'll definitely be back after Christmas, but it reminded me I really should get Smashie a present this year, seeing as he isn't getting a brand new tank as first promised.

In way of payment for my patience at being dragged round the shops, Gail bought a take-a-way curry when we got home. She got her usual Tikka Masala and I went for the roasting hot Madras. A decision I was later to regret.

I logged on and received news from Writer On Line that my article on making e-books will be published in the December issue.

Other than that there's not much more to tell. I didn't do much writing after dinner; my stomach struggling with the Madras I ate. I did some reading to take my mind off it but couldn't some up the energy or motivation to write anything. I figured I'd take the evening off and get myself ready for that final push into the last week of November.

And what a week it promises to be. I want to get several thousand words of Stella down and complete off a good chunk more of Hunting Jack. It will also see the launch of my second chapbook, Fringe Fantastic.

PRE-ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC! Click here to order securely using your credit/debit card.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please see the website at:

I'm giving away FIVE free copies of Fringe Fantastic, signed and with their own special bookmark. All you have to do to enter, is answer one simple question before Friday 9th December:

In what month of the year does the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place?

To submit your entry, click here: Enter the Fringe Fantastic Competition.

Alternatively, email your answer, along with your name and address to
Colin 9:13 am | 0 comments |

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Wonder Music

Six days to go!

I really need to start thinking about Christmas presents. As usual I haven't put much thought into it past Laura's and Gail's so I guess the time is approaching that I should be. It's the same old story though; what to get people and finding the time to get it. It's a blokey thing, but I just hate shopping unless it's a record/book store.

My writing day was broken up with various other tasks. I worked on a website update and caught up with my email then cleaned the kitchen and the living room. Then I worked on Hunting Jack followed by more exercises with Laura's maths. Then I made dinner and got stuck into Stella. I tried not to let the writing work split except for between jobs, which helped, but it proved to be a busy day.

Not got much else to say really.

I watched Parkinson. Although traditionally a chat show he always has a band on at the end of each half of the show. This week the music was provided by the one and only, Stevie Wonder. It was fantastic to see him still going strong having just recorded a new album, but more importantly, singing live. It reminded me I really should buy some more "Wonder music".

PRE-ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC! Click here to order securely using your credit/debit card.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please see the website at:

I'm giving away FIVE free copies of Fringe Fantastic, signed and with their own special bookmark. All you have to do to enter, is answer one simple question before Friday 9th December:

In what month of the year does the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place?

To submit your entry, click here: Enter the Fringe Fantastic Competition.

Alternatively, email your answer, along with your name and address to
Colin 8:22 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, November 25, 2005

Quick Pint And An Evening's Work

Seven days to go!

It was below zero while walking to work and with the wind-chill it felt like minus twenty. It was no surprise then that by tem in the morning I looked out the window of my work to see huge flakes of snow falling by their millions over Edinburgh. By lunchtime it had stopped, though it meant I had to trudge through the slush and Arctic winds to get to Clark's. A trip though, that was definitely worth making.

Dave and Tom were soon in the pub for a liquid lunch and after a not very exciting afternoon back in the office, I met Tom for another couple in The Cumberland Bar. I hate The Cumberland. It always smells bad, usually of strong bleach and no matter how many staff they have on they always look through you and serve their regulars first. It's unfriendly, unwelcoming, pretentious and the layout of the pub doesn't help either.

I was home for half past six so I could take over from Gail who had another night at the Playhouse planned. with folk from her work. This gave me an opportunity to write for the evening after Laura was down.

It's been a long and hard week. A combination of 6am starts and a lot of work on the marketing campaign for Fringe Fantastic has left me tired but satisfied. The weekend I have planned won't give me much respite but I have so much to do for next week as well as my GDR I can't slow up now.

I have so much on the go, but I'm coping with the extra workloads I'm imposing on myself. It's a case of time management and my schedule (link on the left) is helping to an extent. Where previously I would annoy myself with a lot of work and not get anything done, now I find myself able to fight through the fire and get the work complete. Self-imposed deadlines is a good thing in my book.

When I went to bed I couldn't sleep for a buzzing brain so I flicked on the TV and ended up watching Patch Adams. I'd seen it before but not the whole way through and it took me till 2am. It was a funny and uplifting film, but I just can't help feeling that Robin Williams, who I generally like as an actor, comes over as really smug in his play of the main character.

Tomorrow - Stella and I really need to finish off the leaflets and posters for the promo campaign in the final week leading up to launch of FF. I also think I night add a small image to the hard copy releases of the front cover of the book. I need to hook as many editors and journalists into this as possible and if that means emptying my colour cartridge then so be it.

PRE-ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC! Click the on the icon over to the left (under the front cover picture) to order securely using your credit/debit card.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please see the website at:

I'm giving away FIVE free copies of Fringe Fantastic, signed and with their own special bookmark. All you have to do to enter, is answer one simple question before Friday 9th December:

In what month of the year does the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place?

To submit your entry, click here: Enter the Fringe Fantastic Competition.

Alternatively, email your answer, along with your name and address to
Colin 5:38 pm | 0 comments |

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Tazers In Scotland

Eight days to go.

I've remained silent on this subject long enough. Taser guns, and their use in Scotland.

In today's Herald, there is a report of a man in his mid-thirties, being the first Scottish victim of the use of a Taser gun. He was fired upon by trained officers in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, as he attempted to rob a Texaco Garage, allegedly, with a firearm. He was admitted to hospital and will face charges later.

In this particular incident nobody was hurt, although the "victim" banged his head when he fell. It could have been much worse. Brandishing a gun and using it to threaten people is something, which in the past, has often led police marksmen to shoot to disable the perpetrator of a crime as it happens. The use of a Taser is designed to incapacitate the criminal rather than risk fatally wounding them.

To me, this sounds like a good idea. If you are going to use a firearm to commit a crime, it is reasonable to expect the rest of the public and the police might believe that you are going to use it. Therefore, don't be surprised if a member of the Firearms Response Unit pops a bullet in your ass. I would have though a Taser gun as an alternative, might appeal more to any would-be armed robbers.

That's not how John Scott, Chairman of the Scottish Human Rights Centre, sees it. He says, "There are still serious concerns that although a Taser gun is supposed to be a non-lethal force people can be killed with it."

Human Rights? If someone is going to commit a crime, particularly one involving firearms, violence or any kind of violation of an innocent person’s life, then the perpetrator forfeits all rights they themselves once had. We should not be protecting the rights of a man who wields a pistol and threatens to kill someone so they can take their money. The chances are the money is only needed to finance a drug problem, but that's not an excuse for destroying someone else's life.

We should be protecting the rights of innocent people and do our best to ensure that the honest and moral people of our society are protected from being hurt or killed.

Jack McConnell will have you believe he's all for this kind of thing, but he's a balloon filled with the contents of my Dyson after a month's heavy hoovering.

The man this article relates to is lucky he wasn't shot. He chose to commit the crime therefore he should pay to a similar degree of the pain he caused the people he pointed a gun at.

Over one hundred people have died in the US at the end of a Taser gun, which is a terrible shame. But these people chose to put themselves in line of the Taser by committing the crime in the first place. If they had chosen an honest life, they wouldn't be dead. It's that simple.

We in this country need to put the law-abiding people at the forefront. It's OUR rights that should be protected, not those who choose to break the law not giving a damn what happens to anyone else as a consequence. Taser guns won't solve the root-cause of why people commit serious offences in this country, but it may go a long way to making them think twice.

PRE-ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC! Click the on the icon over to the left (under the front cover picture) to order securely using your credit/debit card.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please see the website at:

I'm giving away FIVE free copies of Fringe Fantastic, signed and with their own special bookmark. All you have to do to enter, is answer one simple question before Friday 9th December:

In what month of the year does the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place?

To submit your entry, click here: Enter the Fringe Fantastic Competition.

Alternatively, email your answer, along with your name and address to
Colin 9:54 am | 1 comments |

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hard Work = Sore Back

Nine days to go.

I submitted the final manuscript to the publisher and confirmed everything as complete. Fringe Fantastic is now a runaway train of which not even I can stop it. Not that I would want to, but the last four months have been as much hard work as they have been exciting.

Hopefully the book will be appreciated by some, and fingers crossed that there are no distribution problems. It's the one area I have no control over but it's probably the most important. Judging by the packaging used to send out the proof copy it should be fine. I'm just a tad nervous there are no unhappy customers.

I update the blog and my website with the new links and prepared all the purchase pages plus confirmed the Amazon Marketplace listing, which will take a couple of weeks to appear but hopefully it will generate publicity more than anything else. Amazon take a hefty cut of the royalties to the point that listing with them is only viable from a PR angle. The listing is good for a year so I'll reassess that one after a few months.

Got humped at snooker but my back is aching. I think it's the amount if hours I'm spending in front of the computer both at work and then when I come home. I reckon I'll be needing a wee break once the book is launched, but then there's still so much I want to do a rest just isn't on the cards at the moment. Our annual holiday over Christmas and New Year should do the trick.

I badly need a decent chair to sit at in my home office. The one I have is worn and doesn't support my back in any way at all and I find myself slumping for hours without realising. I have a good chair at work, supplied by Health and Safety because I complained about my old one. I'll need to invest in a good one for home too otherwise I'm going to cripple myself all in the name of this obsession.


PRE-ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC! Click the on the icon over to the left (under the front cover pitcure) to order using your credit/debit card.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please see the website at:


I'm giving away FIVE free copies of Fringe Fantastic, signed and with their own special bookmark. All you have to do to enter, is answer one simple question before Friday 9th December:

In what month of the year is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place?

To submit your entry, go here: Enter the Fringe Fantastic Competition
Colin 10:02 am | 1 comments |

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ready For The Big Bad World

Snow cannot be far away, such is the temperature in Edinburgh. It was well below freezing on my way to work and didn't rise much above zero by midday. All the poor wee birdies won't be able to get their wee wormies out the ground!

Good news. Yello have re-issued their first six albums in a deluxe box set. Each CD includes digitally remastered tracks and bonus cuts including dance mixes, b-sides and rarities. It includes Stella, the inspiration for my current fiction WIP. If you've never heard any their stuff, this is as good a place to start as any.

Yello - The Remaster Series

Work was very busy. I'm the only one present in my team; Julz is in Australia on holiday and Ranking Roger is in another building for the week. This means I'm fielding all the phone calls, emails and failure incidents as well as my own project work. It's hectic, to say the least.

For the last few Tuesdays me and Gail have been out, which has meant I've lost almost three hours of writing in the evening. (Not that I'm complaining - our task is essential and enjoyable stuff). We'll be going for another four weeks yet, so all it means isa slight adjustment to my writing schedule. Flexibility, the key as always.

When we got back in tonight we had a quick dinner and I checked my email. The stats on the FF website for the first 24 hours since launch are quite impressive: 150 unique hits!

I uploaded a few changes to the FF site so it is now complete (bar ordering info that is), including the Fringe Fantastic Competition.

I'm giving away FIVE free copies of Fringe Fantastic, signed and with their own special bookmark. All you have to do to enter, is answer one simple question:

In what month of the year is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival take place?

To submit your entry, go here: Enter the Fringe Fantastic Competition

I also completed making the final itty-bitty changes to the FF manuscript. It is now totally, one hundred per cent complete.

I remembered feeling lost a few weeks ago when I thought I could never have it fully to my satisfaction. Putting a deadline on it has taken my mind away from that, because launching the book has taken a lot of time and work, I more or less forgot about my feelings towards the book.

Now, as I prepare to send it to the publishers for the final time, I don't feel sad or scared that I am letting it go out into the wild, I feel pride and joy that I know it is nothing less than my best work. I could not have done a better job in any part of its production. If it flops, it flops but I'm chuffed to bits it got this far.
Colin 12:13 pm | 0 comments |

Monday, November 21, 2005

Strengthening The Plot

A new week beckons as November moves ever closer towards its end. The next ten days need to be mega-productive, not so much for me to be able to look back on another November to remember, but so that my GDR can be filed off as complete, thereby teeing myself up nicely for December.

This is the time of year I love. Autumn is flirting with winter, nature is vivid and there is a sense that Christmas is just around the corner. I love the mornings with their bitter coldness, waking me and revitalising me as the moon sets at one side of the sky, with the sun rising at the other. And I love the evenings, when the moon sails high on the tail of the Plough and darkness falls, bringing with it mystery, mist and motivation.

There are a couple of things loitering dangerously on my GDR List that I know if I don't put in the work will not only ruin my GDR review at the end of the month, but also impact next month's work I am able to take on.

So with that in mind, I roared into and soon got lost in 23,000 words of Hunting Jack (19 issues) taking me to the half-way point in the story. I need to get this first redraft complete so I can enter the manuscript into the Undiscovered Authors Competition. They aren't looking for fully completed and perfect manuscripts, but they are looking for a level of professionalism, a good story and a good eye for marketing. Hopefully I can show them I have all three.

I'm seeing things in Jackie I never saw before. I think after putting the story down for a while after spending nine solid months with it, has allowed me to approach it with fresh eyes and a renewed vigour. I see things in him that I can and should have used more in the story to move the plot and as I move through the first redraft, these changes are coming into play. When I read it back it makes it stronger and gives it more of a hook to keep on reading.

With that complete (and it took a while), I had to get the website for Fringe Fantastic sorted out and launched. My hosting company has installed new servers recently, so first I had to migrate my accounts and all my code over to them. Then I had to setup the new address and upload the new site. There are still a couple of outstanding matters to do with content, but the site was finally launched late on in the evening.

Click here to view the
Fringe Fantastic Website

Here's a nice picture to finish off with:

Colin 8:28 am | 2 comments |

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Over The Worst

I slept till 12. I felt better for getting a good sleep but guilty at losing a whole morning. Forgetting about being a writer for a minute though and just as a parent, I think I'm owed it every now and then. Kids take up as much, if not more, of my week as writing does but they can be so much more demanding sometimes. Sleep or alcohol is often all that's needed but in a big way.

I wrote out yesterday's blog entry first thing. I actually dreamt about yesterday's debacle last night. I still can't believe it happened, but I'll get over it. Some of the stuff might be recoverable from my mates at a Madness forum I've been a member of for years, but some won't for various sad reasons I won't go into here.

It was another frozen day outside; chilling and fresh, just the way I like it. A cup of hot coffee and little play of my Solid Gold Collection of Ska Anthems and I was feeling much like my old self. One might be able to destroy a few painfully collected rare Ska music tracks in an instant, but the spirit lives on; Ska is not a fashion, it's a way of life.

The first part of my afternoon was spent round at my MILs with Gail's brother, his partner and their wee boy, Kyle. He's growing fast and learning lots of new words. It's good to see him becoming less shy and more excitable. He's a bonnie wee lad.

When we returned Gail made a marvellous beef casserole, which allowed me to get stuck into Stella. I needed to do some research on a passage I'm working on located in Greece. Before I knew it I was a world away and the time had gone ten pm. It felt great to be writing so in-depth and carefree; the words flowed and the creative buzz kept on buzzing.

One of the reasons I'm enjoying writing Stella so much is not just that it's a piece of fiction that has taken on its own life, but that it allows me to take Randolph to any part of the world I wish. It's a multi-national story, which is very liberating and leaves everything wide open to how I feel on the day of writing. Why Greece? I have no idea, but what I do know is that all this fictional travel is making me want to go abroad again and so some exploring.

Tomorrow is Monday and I have loads to get through this week. Fringe Fantastic needs to have its website launched and the final draft of the manuscript confirmed, lots more work on Stella, editorial work on The Scruffy Dog Review, and I need to get into my work on Scotland's Treasure for the same publication, which is calling loudly in the background.

You just cannot beat it.
Colin 11:09 pm | 1 comments |

Saturday, November 19, 2005


My early start with Laura took us on our weekly trip to her dance classes and a new level of coldness over Leith. Jack Frost visited last night and a layer of ice clung to the trees, plants, roads and windows like faded glass.

I dropped her off and made my way up town, with only a couple of ideas what I was going to do. I wandered into Fopp for a quick look around but all their books have been replaced by DVD's for the Christmas shoppers. In Waterstones and I discovered they do have a poetry section after all. Hidden away on the top floor it contains a lot of the usual names but also, quite pleasing was the number of small chapbooks published under lesser-known names. I think I stand a good chance of being able to get a few copies of Fringe Fantastic alongside them and I allowed myself the delight of figuring out where on the shelf any books by Galbraith would sit.

I never bought anything but I browsed the fiction sections as well, checking out Paul Auster's new novel, Brooklyn Follies. I'm a couple behind but will definitely get a copy at some point.

I spent a quick hour in the shop before heading off for a quick coffee in my usual place and writing some notes about marketing ideas I picked up on while in the store. Then on my way back to get Laura I stopped off in Cartridge World and stocked up on some badly needed ink cartridges for my printer.

Lots of work to do round the house; tidying, box-sifting of things to make room in the garage for our new cross-trainer and moving the huge set of shelves from the kitchen to the garage to use as storage and make for more room in the eating area. It took up most of the afternoon so in the background I got to burning some CD's.

I'm sending a DVD over to a pal in NY and as I've been reorganising my own stuff on file I keep finding some good utilities to send over. So I got that disk burnt loaded with some great utilities and then decided to copy more of my collected Madness audio/video for the PC onto disk to free up some space.

In the top disk (the reader) I had the original disk with my collection of Madness MP3's and videos collected over a period of about 8 years (I wanted to listen to some tracks). In the bottom disk (the writer) I had the disk I was going to reformat and wipe so I could copy on all the newly collected stuff - around 700Mb of it.

I hit the reformat and wipe button and forgot about it so I could get back to sifting through the boxes not long in from the garage. Gail nipped out for ten minutes to get some shopping for her pals coming round later so I made a coffee and watched a bit of the news.

I went back up to my office to see the reformatting had completed and I sat down to prepare to copy the new files onto it. I looked at Explorer and the drive letters didn't match up with the drives on my machine. 'E' and 'F' were the wrong way round. It's done that before so I just ignored it.

I highlighted the files I wanted to copy and added them to the list, when it suddenly hit me like a size ten boot in the testicles.

I opened the lower disk tray and pulled out the disk, not the blank one, but the one that held my Madness collection of song, music and images collected over a period of 8 years. Had I wiped my Madness disk? I switched to explorer and confirmed the worst - I had wiped it all.

I was totally and utterly devastated. Some of the stuff is replaceable, but not much. Most of it was rare bootlegs from gigs stretching back to 1979. There were demo's too and interviews with guys from the band, documentaries and video footage you just can't get hold of anymore.

The collection stood for much more though. Through it, I was able to trace my career with Madness, from the days of when I was but a naive youngster wishing I was old enough to see them, to when I got to finally see them in concert. It traced my life as I met with the band and exchanged emails, visited London for spin-off events and promotional activities, drinking sessions and fun. With the soundtrack to that life wiped out in an instant, it felt like someone had died and I felt like crying. 8 years - gone in an instant.

I must have sat and stared at my monitor for ages. When Gail came back she knew something was wrong and I told her. I knew she didn't understand but I really wouldn't have expected her too. She patted me on the back and asked if I could retrieve it somehow, but there wasn't.

Eventually I gathered myself together and tried to write my blog. Maybe writing about it would help but I couldn't. I resorted to a glass of red and a Chinese meal with Gail's pals but I wasn't much fun so I went to bed early to watch Match of the Day. I couldn't think of anything else except how stupid I'd been in not being more careful.
Colin 1:22 pm | 4 comments |

Friday, November 18, 2005

Slight Dip In Form

Worked on the FF manuscript. The changes needed to the front cover have been made. The odd and even numbered pages now match up; images are now on the same open page as the corresponding poem; a new chapter begins on the right hand side; and the Acknowledgements page has been page moved to the rear. There's now 91 pages so it's going to be a bit thicker as a result.

I did a lot of editing and conversion of Hunting Jack - always a treat to go back and read and I discovered some things I had forgotten about what happened to Jackie along the way. Very pleasing to read how I handled some of the imagery in places, though there were a lot of really basic stupid errors that I picked up, too.

Finished off all news, press agency and student organisation personal letters. Started work on the ones for all the libraries and bookstores. These will be backed up by personal visits but I wanted to make sure they get contact this way first. Courtesy more than anything else.

I took a lot of worksheets home for Laura to work on her Maths. We made some good progress tonight. At one stage I actually saw the penny drop when I explained something differently that I had picked up on an educational website. Suddenly, things seemed to get that little bit easier from there on in. She's not afraid now, and actually wanting more problems to solve.

It's great to be there for her, learning with her and supporting her when she's struggling. The rewards will come when she's roaring ahead and I'll not be able to keep up with her!

I tried to work on Stella but got side-tracked in the evening. It was a mixture of tiredness and too much thinking ahead when I should have just been writing. I resigned myself to defeat and went to bed with my book (another check for errors - how many times can I check?) and my notepad for some ideas I had for Stella. So the night wasn't a total waste.
Colin 11:19 pm | 1 comments |

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Is There A Writer In You?

I'm totally knackered today after all my early starts this week and late night last night. I wasn't going to drink but ended up partaking in a whisky. Bad move since I had to get into work for a 9am meeting.

I did a load of work for the FF marketing campaign. I put together a template for the letter that will go to all the libraries in Edinburgh. Also wrote out the template letter for the major bookstore chains to try and get the book listed and onto the shelves.

I worked my way through each of the companies/publishers/institutions marked to receive an email or letter and personalised each one accordingly. This is one of the bits that takes ages because despite having all the details, I have to make sure all the letters match up. Some are always that little bit different, whether I want to recognise past communications with a journalist as a prompt, or whether it is making sure those people are still working at the same place. No point in sending a personalised query if that person left the company three months ago.

I did some more work on the FF website. There were some discrepancies and these needed ironed out. I just need to move it onto its new domain now. Still haven't thought up a competition and there's a wee bit of background information to go up, too.

I worked my way through the proof copy of the book, marking anywhere I think it needs changed. To tell you the truth, there is hardly any. Most is simple alignment though there are a few words I want changed.

Each day I work on this project, I learn so much. When I did my first chapbook, Brick by Brick, I was learning from scratch. I'd never put anything together before so it was very much like feeling about in the dark.

That project gave light to the realisation I could take poetry publishing to another level. With that though, came the awesome amount of tasks involved in not only writing it, but publishing, marketing and promoting it. It will have taken 4 months to complete the FF project by the time the launch date comes around - a third of a year! But it has been fantastic fun and a superb journey of learning - so far.

I didn't get a chance to get on with Stella. I had to work with Laura on her maths but she's doing really well and it needs to be done. If there were marks for trying she'd be top of the class.

Getty Images are currently running a project called Change Me. The lowdown is, if you select an image from a wide selection they provide; something that inspires you, hits a nerve or simply appeals, write about these thoughts and ideas then submit them, they will donate $10 (ten dollars/seven quid) to ONE: The Make Poverty History Campaign.

You may get your entry posted on the website, but even better is the chance to be selected be part of a global travelling exhibition and an anthology of images and prose.

They have $500,000 to donate so even if you are not a good writer, your submission would still mean $10 is submitted towards making poverty history. Give it a bash. You never know you might discover a hidden writer inside you waiting to get out.

Click here for all the info

PS - Sorry Zander. I still love you, man!!

Colin 11:14 am | 0 comments |

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pot Black

Last night when Gail and I returned home (Laura was away at her Grans) I could not resist getting my digi-cam out to take a picture of the moon. It was freezing all day and by ten o'clock at night it was well below zero but that never stopped me.

With their being no cloud cover and the moon in full view, it was something I had to try and get a decent image of. I knew it could never be as good as the one permanently on my blog (see left), but I gave it a bash anyway. Gail thinks I'm mad for standing in the garden watching the moon when it was so cold, but it was so low and visible it was just great to look at. It's also one of the themes running through Stella so it's proving to be quite inspirational at the moment.

Anyway, here's the best of the bunch:

Back to today. Circadian Poems published my poem, Empty today. There's one more to go that they have accepted for the end of the month.

Work was actually quite good. Despite the department getting the shittiest pay rise we've ever had, we also got a new boss. I had my first meeting with her at half past eight this morning and despite the tales of woe that proceeded her management style, I think things might just be about to get better.

There's a long way to go of course; you can't just un-do three years of mis-management in a single week, but from the way our discussion went I think changes are on the horizon. For the first time in 36 months, a manager actually listened.

Randolph Lowe is a character in the story I'm working on, Stella. He's giving me some grief because he wants more of a part to play in this tale. So I'm going to give it to him. He was originally just the supporting character but the more the ideas and sub-plots develop in my head as I sit here day to day, the more he is becoming a restless and intriguing individual.

Stella is not going to be anything like I planned; I think it's going to be much better. I've not been able to work on it the past two days but tomorrow I'll be able to resume the writing the flood of words currently building behind the dam in my mind.

On a typical working day most of my actual writing is done in the evenings. The business side, i.e. marketing and promotional things, I do during the day over lunch, or perhaps I do some editing as well. I'd rather have the whole day to write but that's a luxury I'll have to wait a little longer to be able to do.

Another incident at the snooker club tonight found me having to defend my old Father in Law again. We were located at a table just off the main hall and had stopped playing temporarily to talk about something. This is quite normal as it is a very sociable club. It's also a public club so anyone can walk in and get a game. Sometimes you can find several people sharing a table and they can get quite noisy. C'est la vie; it never bothers us.

Anyway, there we were talking when from the other side of the room; "SSSHHHH!!"

"Excuse me?" I said, the line of my back rising. "You got a problem?"

No answer from the tall bloke and his wee pal who play in silence every week, like they think they are in the Crucible Theatre.

"You ARE allowed to talk in here, mate," I said.

"And we're allowed to play."

"So who's stopping you?"

"Just keep the fu**ing volume down."

"Can you show me the sign where it says 'no talking'? And don't swear at me again ya wee prick!" I said to the tall bloke.

Two boys playing at the next table chuckled at my blatant cheek. It was the end of the discussion. I went back to my table and took a sip of Kronenbourg. Ian asked me what that was all about - the poor old guy really should get his hearing tested because there was me defending his right to speak and he never heard a thing.

These are the pair who once asked a guy to take his keys out of his pocket once because the noise they caused as he walked round the table was "putting them off their game".

I'd have told him where to shove it, but the guy did as he was asked.

99% of the people who play at the club go there to have a beer, play some snooker and have a chat. It's not the World Championship and while I stand by the right of anyone to be able to play there in peace, I'm not going to stay silent all night because some snobby six foot twat wants to play in silence. There are silent areas of the club designated precisely for that purpose; if they can't afford or want to play there than that's their problem.
Colin 12:47 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Smell Of A New Book

I had an even earlier start to the day than yesterday. I was up, dressed and ready to go by 7.15am. I took these pictures from my office window before I left.

I submitted an article to Interactive Dad Magazine. It's a humorous advice article that has a serious message. I can see me writing more for them if it is accepted because I like their publication. Which reminds me, I have still to write that piece for the Being Dad anthology at Tall Tales Press.

I posted my entry in the TSDR Blog nice and early. This one is about the new initiative at The Traverse with local writers, much like Milne's Bar of old.

All before work!

At about 10:15am I returned to my desk to be told by one of the guys that my wife rang from home. Worried that something might be wrong (she's still off sick), I called Gail back. Nothing was wrong, but she had some awesome news.

Fringe Fantastic had just been pushed through the letterbox. She was holding the parcel in her hand. There was a small tear in the packaging so she could see it was definitely the book.

In hindsight I wish she had never rung to tell me. I had to go the whole day knowing the book was waiting for me. The excitement was palpable and I could barely contain myself.

My article, Edwin Morgan: Scotland's Makar was published today on Circadian Poems. I'm quite fond of this article because I like Edwin Morgan. Have a read about a bloke who's well deserving of the title of Scotland's Poet Laureate.

I worked on some more issues of Hunting Jack and proof-read and edited my press releases and query letters for the FF promotion. Then it suddenly hit me; what if there was a problem with the book and I couldn't launch it on December 2nd? It just doesn't bear thinking about. I'll have to check and double-check everything.

Anyway, with the PR templates 100% correct, I started making the individual copies to be printed and emailed to all the various publications. This is the bit I hate. It's laborious and repetitive - a bit like work really.

The journey home was as exciting as it has ever been before. After disembarking the bus in Great Junction Street, I walked through Leith and along by the Links. The full moon hovered low in the sky, lighting my route back to the house. When I got inside, the glow of the central heating in full flow hit me in the face. I shouted on Gail and made sure she was okay. Then I opened my parcel.

Fringe Fantastic is awesome, I have to say. It is slightly larger than I was expecting and a bit thicker too, but the cover quality is superb. The images used have come out pin-point sharp; much sharper that you could ever get on a monitor. The material used gives it a glorious shine and it is very, very inviting.

Inside the words of each poem met my eyes with a thrill and a buzz. The quality is as good as I dared hope and the images inside have come out really well, too.

There are some minor changes to be made though. There is a small problem with the alignment of the page numbers, some of the poems differ in distance from the edge on the left hand pages, a couple of poems need altering, and I need to shift the poems in their order so that certain images match up with their corresponding poems and so that new chapters always begin on the right hand side. These are all small things to take care of, so we are now well on track for a December 2nd launch, which is a huge relief.

Opening the book for the first time was a thrilling experience. The feel of the pages, the smell, the months of work it contains and the idea that maybe I'm doing something worthwhile is all suddenly very real.

Seeing my words in print and in a bound bound book is about as good a feeling that any writer can get. I know it's not been published through a large traditional publishing house, but the aim of this book is to appeal to a specific market, which they would never consider trying to sell to. Hopefully it will also get my name more known and be a significant step forward in my writing career.

For those who still doubt my commitment to becoming a full-time writer, and I know there are, let them speak now or forever hold their breath.

Colin 1:57 pm | 3 comments |

Monday, November 14, 2005

Husband, Dad, Doctor, Writer

I felt great this morning. I got up nice and early today to make the most of the dark and calm autumn morning, and the free cappuccino from my coffee shop on the way to work, topped it off.

I worked through my outstanding emails and added a few new tasks for this week's marketing plan for FF. I need to upload the new website and I want to have all the press releases prepared early so I can schedule their release.

Made a change to the FF manuscript; removing the word "fuck" from one of the poems. It doesn't necessarily require it, but I included it into a dialogue poem to give it some Scottish reality. We do swear a lot in our every day vernacular, you see.

Thinking about it though, the possible backlash from concerned parents if/when Laura takes her copy of the book into school is not something I would like to have to handle from a PR point of view. So I replaced it with a less offensive word.

The chapter on gays will remain. Surely nobody can take offence at that - it's meant to be funny, but it's definitely not insulting. In fact, any gay men reading it might be quite pleased at the take. I'll need to ask Zander what he thinks.

I complete off the the Janice Galloway and Muriel Spark articles. My research into the latter threw up some extremely interesting stuff so her article is one of those long ones I refuse to break down any further; it's just too fascinating to leave anything out. Not that Janice Galloway isn't interesting, it's just that Muriel did so much and Janice is still a young girl in comparison. Not that Muriel is old - oh, forget it.

I wrote the press releases for all the internet feeds and for all the companies in my press directory. I also wrote out the template for the personal query letters I will distribute to targeted publications such as The Scotsman and The Herald. Over the past year some of the journalists I targeted have slowly started to respond. I've got a couple of contacts in either paper who made it clear they were interested but I should come back when something major happens like a book release. Previous to that they were just ignoring so hopefully they will take the bait this time and do a piece on me. I'm astill determined to get The Leither interested.

Gail was off work today so I moved into my Doctor G role to make her feel comfortable while she recovers. She's really going through it and all she can do is stay in bed and drink lots of water. I made her some dinner but she couldn't even taste it or finish it. I'm just praying I don't catch it so I've been taking vitamin supplements to boost my immune system while it's in the house. A couple of days in bed ill is not something I can afford with two and a half weeks until the book launch.

I spent a lot of time wth Laura going through her Maths still. I've been making up sheets of work for her to do so she can really get to grips with it, which is what she needs.

I also spruced up the FF website. It's looking pretty good. All I need to do is create some extra content on the making of the book and ensure all the links are solid. Then I'll publicise it and on December 2nd I'll release the links to purchase the book. I'm also going to run a competition to win some free signed copies but I'm not sure what the details of that are going to be yet. Still waiting for the advance copy - hope it's not lost in the post!
Colin 8:55 am | 0 comments |

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Pure Dead Fiction

Back to work - writing work, that is.

After a shower, breakfast and a damn hot coffee, I wrote my entry for my TSDR blog entry on Tuesday and caught up with my own journal. There were some emails from yesterday that I had to catch up on too since I never got onto my email once all day.

I checked-in to TSDR editorial forum and email to make sure nothing was outstanding. I have to contact a couple of the authors I have accepted this week but nothing else was pending.

Fiona, my sister, and Nolon popped in for coffee after spending the night at a 30th birthday party in Edinburgh last night – coincidence or what!? I probably won’t see them till nearer Christmas so we are planning a night with my parents and my other sister Lindsay just after Christmas before we go up north for our annual winter holiday.

In between working with Laura on some Maths projects and looking after Gail who is suffering from a major cold, I edited and reformatted some more issues of Hunting Jack during the remainder of the afternoon. I’m a quarter of the way through the entire manuscript now and once complete, I’ll go back and try to decide on where chapters fit naturally for the purposes of the Undiscovered Authors Competition. They are looking for a single first chapter and synopsis on which they will base their decision for the first regional round.

The rest of the night was spent working on Stella. This story is going to be much longer than first envisaged. Three chapters in and each of them are short stories in their own right. I might have to rethink calling each chapter after a song of the album because of the length but I’ll leave that to the end. The important thing is to get it down on paper and worry about moulding it later. If I was forced to guess, I reckon I could be looking at a possible 50k word count.

This is the first day a long time spent writing nothing but fiction. It feels magic!
Colin 12:19 am | 0 comments |

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Finding The Time

We had lovely autumnal weather today; clear blue skies, cold bite in the air and golden colours abounding. My day started at 6.30am so I got to make the most of it *ahem* not that I would have minded a wee lie in, but there you go.

Gail had a works' night out last night so I did the honours with Laura. I dropped her off at her dance classes and then had to wait half an hour in a winding queue to get tickets for her upcoming dance show. It was all women and kids in the line with one wee old lady at a table searching for the tickets for the correct night then slowly counting out all the change. It couldn't have been worse organised but then I shouldn't expect anything else from that place.

Finally I got my tickets and left, jumped on a number 16 bus and headed straight for Waterstones at the east end of Princes Street. I had a good browse through the fiction and crime shelves. The true crime section I always find to be a treasure trove of possibilities. Three books from that section formed a large part of Hunting Jack when I was writing it.

There are some books I really want to get, but with Christmas coming up I knew I'd better hold off until January and just use the tokens I got for my birthday instead. I took a while looking through the author's sections and moved over to the Scottish section. There are loads of great books with photographs and stories - modern and old - of Scotland, which I like to flick through and use as ideas for photographic ideas as well as fiction.

Then I remembered a book I had been meaning to get for a couple of months since it came out. I had been given a sneak preview of it a couple of months ago by the author before it hit the shelves and it contains some excellent images and words that I knew would feed my own imagination. Rebus's Scotland; A Personal Journey by Ian Rankin.

I handed over my twenty quid and made for the coffee shop I've started to attend more regularly on Saturday morning to read and write. Just off St. Andrews Square, it's usually quiet enough to get on, but busy enough to make you feel inconspicuous. Their coffee is pretty damn good as well.

A group of young French tourists were already inside and had just ordered a full round of hot chocolates, much to the consternation of the two lads serving. The chocolate sauce ran out mid-way through them distributing it into the thirty or so cups lined up on the counter. They were kind enough not to let me wait and snuck me through my cappuccino. I took my coffee and sat by the window in the corner, opened my new book and read.

A couple of ideas struck me; one from an image in Rankin's book and one from something I heard the woman sitting behind me say to her friend. I got my notebook out and started to write. An hour and a bit later it was time to leave.

I collected Laura and we headed home, stopping to buy lunch and a paper on the way. The rest of the afternoon was spent keeping Laura occupied. The day seemed to go really quickly because once I had got her sorted I had to get the place tidied up and get myself ready for one of Gail's cousin's 30th birthday party over in Livingston in the evening.

It was a good night; lots of laughter and drinking with some of Gail's extended family. The venue had watered down its lager, which was extremely disappointing, so I moved onto whisky almost immediately.

Gail has a couple of hilarious uncles; Buddy who looks like a gangster and Harry who's just a bit mad in general. So mad in fact, that he dragged me onto the dance floor by him after he requested Madness to be played - just the two of us, praying the DJ hadn't chosen It Must Be Love or I was off.

My poor old FIL was the designated driver and by the time we got home it was bordering on 2am. I had been harbouring thoughts of getting some work done on Stella before bed but it was all a pipe dream. I was shattered after my early start and after a cup of tea I went to bed. I had a great view of the moon through the curtains from my bed; almost full and extremely bright so I could follow it along the sky before I drifted off.
Colin 5:13 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, November 11, 2005

Getting Stronger

Three weeks today until the launch of Fringe Fantastic: The Poet's Experience of the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

I had the day off, or part of it anyway, to take a delivery from people who could only confirm it would be made between 8am and 6pm. Not that I mind having to take time away from the office, but I mean if people can't even give you a period of a couple of hours range when they will be arriving they should really start to employ folk with at least half a brain to their credit.

The delivery is a Cross Trainer; one of those full body workout machines, and we are going to install in the garage. Gail wanted it and I reckon I'll use it too. And why not? I need to trim the beer gut though don't expect me to stop partaking in the odd Chinese or Indian meal when the mood strikes.

While I waited on the delivery I checked my email. My 'How To' article was accepted by Writer-On-Line and will appear in their next issue. Another boost to this months ins and outs.
I complete some editorial work for TSDR; rejecting and accepting some pieces for publication. I also sent in my Bookshelf entries for the main site. It took me ages to decide what books to include, but I got there.

I worked a lot on Stella. I listened to the album three times and took down a lot of notes concerning the lyrics, the plot I want to work out and the mood of the music that it has to go alongside.

Then I used my new white board to work out the filling details of the plot and plan out each chapter according to the songs, making sure the overall plot links together and contains everything I want to include.

There's no way it s going to be a short story; more like a novella, which is fine because I'm not restricting myself on this one. There is no word counts or barriers and other than the songs so it gives me total freedom to create a story based on the feel of the music. If the length of reading time matches the length of the songs that would be a bonus but I'm not sticking to that as a rule. It would ruin the story. It has to come out naturally, so I'm letting the first draft flow and if it goes off at a tangent to where I think it will go then so be it.

I wrote the first two chapters in the evening while listening to the album in the background, and I enjoyed writing solid fiction. All my work on FF has meant I have missed the process, so it's great to be back doing my favourite type of work - long fiction.
Colin 12:49 am | 0 comments |

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Busy As A Bee With The Blushes

I'm feeling more like my old self again. Being busy helps not only to take my mind off other things but to keep focussed and charged.

I'm conscious that November might run away from me however, if I don't push down a little harder on the pedal. Twenty days to go to meet my targets and make sure I move into the final month of the year without a huge backlog. That way I can plan the flow into 2006 and not see any hardship on my part.

We always go on holiday for the period after Christmas until the start of the New Year and so if I don't get everything in order for going away then it could get pretty unorganised. I'm sure it won't though with just a little forward planning.

After I chased up my article to a Writing website a couple of weeks ago, the editor wrote to me today to explain that they never received any email at the time it was originally sent because of email problems, and would I send it again. I was happy to do so, because it was my first choice for this article and I reckon it has a chance despite my inexperience in the field of writing 'How To' articles.

I've been thinking a lot about Mr. Jackie McCann; what to do with him and where I might take him. Fiction-wise I simply must write this story, Stella and complete A Friend To Die For. These two works are essential for my own peace of mind because they are projects that have grown close to my heart. Even getting the first draft down so I can relax with them will be enough. They are both large pieces of work and so will take a while to complete anyway. But I need to see he mould of clay before I can leave it until the time comes to mould.

As far as Hunting Jack goes then, I think there are changes to be made to the story. I have already started doing this and continued tonight when on continuing my read-through and editing for the serial publication. The main theme of HJ, I feel has never really come through when talking to people. It was never clear enough although the pieces fitted, they were invisible or too far apart.

I'm going to complete this first re-write and then I'm thinking of entering a UK-wide competition to find undiscovered authors. There will be regional entries leading to a nation-wide final, all looking at undiscovered authors and their novels. I figure, why not pitch Hunting Jack. I think it's good enough (well - it will be when I'm done with it).

So there's much to do and with three major pieces of fiction on the go, a poetry chapbook impending and all the articles I'm touting, it certainly is proving to be a busy month.

I was checking the status of FF and downloaded the back cover complete with bar code for the first time. It fits perfectly into the overall design and doesn't detract from the image so I'm delighted.

It can't be long now.
Colin 12:42 pm | 0 comments |

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Celebrating Life

Back to work today and I feel like I'm coming out of the tunnel. Things are clearing and my drive is returning with an edge of impatience because I've not written anything in two days. Okay, I got most of the website done but that's business - I want this to be a creative autumn.

I'm very impatient about the delivery of the final proof copy of FF. (Why didn't use FF to write Fringe Fantastic ages ago, is beyond me). Every time I see or hear the Postie my heart flutters, as I await the delivery of the book in its final form. The wait is excruciating; I just want to hold it and smell the pages of my work.

No sooner was I back at work that I had left. One of Gail's friends suffered a family bereavement recently and we attended the funeral together. It was respectful and very busy for a woman who seemed to have made many friends throughout her life.

Her eulogy spoke about her life and work, highlighting her time during World War 2, when she helped defend our country as a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.

After the cremation we attended a wake at the Queen Charlotte Rooms in Leith, which showed me how in death, the Scots know how to celebrate someone's life after they've gone. There were no morbid faces or feeling of tension, as the immediate family invited everyone to help themselves to drink and food and enjoy themselves. They had booked the venue until 1am the following morning, just in case anyone thought they weren't serious.

I left early though as my weekly date at the snooker hall loomed, but as I found out later, Gail had a great time.
Colin 4:11 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Commission Speaks

I took the day off work again. If anything I'm feeling worse, with more headaches, sore eyes and stuffed lungs. I just cannot be bothered with this. It's dragging me down and affecting my concentration and drive.

I received a letter containing the decision of the Press Complaints Commission concerning Mr. C Galbraith v The Times.

The overall assessment was that no breach of the journalistic code had been made. A lot of the two-page detailed report seemed to indicate a certain amount of Teflon-coated decision making.

In the case of the breach of the Public Order Act of 1986, the Commission felt it could not comment, since this was not under their jurisdiction. And of Clause 12 (Discrimination) , the most significant charge I placed at the Times' feet, it said, "this clause is not applicable to groups". It would appear it is non-discriminative to refer to the Scots in demeaning terms because the article was not directed at me personally.

The Commission did send a copy of my complaint and their findings to the editor of The Times, a Mr Thomson Esq., so that he is made aware of my concerns and of the findings. I doubt I'll her anything satisfactory.

And so Ross Clark and The Times have got away with basically calling the Scottish a bunch of "murderous" morons who will never live up to the English, and if it were up to him he would rebuild Hadrian's wall to keep us out. Talk about keeping ancient rivalries alive and spouting non-founded prejudiced nonsense. I expected more of The Times and won't be reading their jumped-up tabloid again.

By evening I started to feel revived again though my chest it still a bit dodgy. I did some editorial work on TSDR. I've been reading some submissions and find it very hard to place the word 'rejection' on a piece. I know the turmoil of having a crafted story or poem rejected can cause, so doing it someone else does not come naturally in any shape or form.

Okay, I might be learning about the editorial side of producing a magazine, but it's not nice turning people down and I find myself looking for ways to improve what they have sent. But then, that removes the author's personality and makes it worthless.
Colin 10:53 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pissing Into The Wind

I took the day off work. My chest and sinuses are bunged and I just feel totally crappy. I couldn't lie in bed though as my back was aching so I wrapped up, took some pills and tidied the house.

I settled on a design for the Fringe Fantastic website and it took me most of the afternoon and evening to complete it. I worked with worsening symptoms from yesterday but I'm happy with what I turned out. Hopefully it will go live sometime in the next few days after I've sorted out my current hosting account.

I've fallen way behind on my writing forums and blog reading and to top things off, two rejections came in; Daffodils and Loaded both rejected from the Summerset Review. That's five rejections in seven days. Must be some kind of record.

Some days I feel like I'm pissing into the wind.
Colin 3:30 pm | 1 comments |

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Can't Seem To Shake It

I felt pretty good when I got up. Refreshed, radiant and raring to go. Last night I slept like a log and reaped the benefits as I made Laura breakfast then went to the shop for the morning papers. I think it was the combination of all my recent exhaustion, the pain killers I took yesterday afternoon and the several beers in the evening. Whatever it was, it seemed to work a treat.

I did some work on my marketing plan for Fringe Fantastic during the afternoon, mainly related to the website and an off-shoot from it. I'm trying to put together a suitable design to support the promotion of the book. It's not coming easily.

We had a nice family Sunday dinner with Gail's roast beef and trimmings, followed by my sticky toffee pudding and custard, but by early evening I started to feel really shitty again. The headaches was back, my chest felt stuffy and my eyes hurting.

Colin 3:26 pm | 0 comments |

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Frontal Lobe Problems

I drifted in and out of sleep all night. I was up several times, tried reading and watching TV several times and even contemplated going for a walk but the freezing air of Leith put me off that idea.

I must have finally drifted off around 4am and when I got up around noon, my head was thumping something rotten. The front lobe of my brain felt like it was banging the inside of my skull and I had to take a couple of pills to try and kill it off.

A parcel arrived in the morning. At first I thought it was the proof book for Fringe Fantastic, but it turned out to be The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling sent to me from my dear old mother via

Kipling was my grandfather's (on my mother's side) favourite poet, particularly the famous poem, If - , which won the UK's number one favourite poem of all time in a recent anthology released by the BBC. I shall certainly enjoy reading all 880 pages of the book.

No writing to report today mainly because when I tried sitting in front of my monitor my headache only worsened. It persisted all day and the pills I took only served to make me feel lethargic.

I eventually went for a lie down and then a hot shower and started to feel better. Both my younger sisters, Fiona and Lindsay, had arranged to go to the Playhouse with Gail and Laura tonight to see Beauty and the Beast. We ordered Chinese meal before they left for the theatre, leaving myself and Nolon (Fiona's fiance) to sink a few beers and put the world to rights. The headache seemed to go away after that, despite the fireworks that were exploding all around the house.
Colin 4:15 pm | 2 comments |

Friday, November 04, 2005

Insomia Returns

When I did finally get to sleep last night I dreamt about my preview copy of Fringe Fantastic arriving and me holding it for the first time. Could I be getting obsessed? I probably already am, though when I checked my email this morning I had an email from the publisher to say it had been dispatched and was on it's way. I cannot wait to get hold of it.

Some exciting news; if you click on the following link, you will see that Circadian Poems have today, published my poem, Perfect Apple. Please have a read and help to support a great venture by Devon Ellington.

There was some bad news today as well. One Story have rejected Heart of a Child. This annoyed me because they "really liked it." Remember, this was the story I pulled from a publication after acceptance a few months ago, because they were changing it too much from its feel and location. I don't regret the decision, but it goes to show how editors can feel so differently about the same piece.

I took the day off today; I'm not feeling myself. I have had little sleep the last couple of nights and I feel like I could sleep for a week. I could really go for a back massage, but to be honest, if I did that here in Edinburgh I'll probably end up getting mixed up in some vice bust since there don't seem to be any legit places around.

I edited and formatted a few more Hunting Jack issues before getting really tired and retiring to bed. Couldn't sleep again though and the last thing I remember was seeing the clock pass 1am.
Colin 5:00 pm | 1 comments |

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Not A Lot

There's not a lot I can write about today. Not a lot I want to either.

I should be able to drum up some words, but I really don't have it in me today.

Consider it a day off.
Colin 6:15 pm | 1 comments |

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Knight In Shining Armour

All rise for the main man, Bobby Mackerel.

From this day forth, he shall be known as Sir Bobby Mackerel, for remarkable activities above and beyond the call of duty, for outstanding generosity, friendship and bravery, and for just being a top bloke.


Well it was a normal day. An over cast sky dispelled rain over the country, children trudged to school through the forming puddles and workers dragged themselves through the damp streets to their offices, shops, sites and wherever.

Just as I was leaving the house, the postman arrived with a bundle of goodies. Some I knew were a variety of CD's and DVD's ordered recently from for Christmas, others were junk. One contained some reading material from my mother, and one was from Bobby Mackerel. I had to sign for it, as it was on Special Delivery.

I opened the small parcel and out popped an unmarked CD. A note was attached, which read: "This should bring back some memories, old pal."

Assuming it to be digital images of photographs, I stuck the CD into my inside pocket and left for the office. When I arrived, I put the CD into my PC and opened Explorer to check out the pictures. I was excited to see them, thinking they might be of a distant Madness concert or some other drunken outing from years gone by.

But there were no images. On the CD was a single file, the kind you would see an audio CD, and unplayable on my work. I would have to wait until I got home.

During the day, I got through a lot of work.

I completed my article on Edwin Morgan and reworked it for submission to Circadian Poems, which I sent off later in the evening. I worked on further articles on my Great Scottish Authors, getting to the final editing stages on articles about Janice Galloway, Muriel Spark and Iain Banks.

I also read and edited several more issues of Hunting Jack in preparation for reformatting into PDF and when I got home there was an email from The Barcelona Review who have chosen to reject Loaded.

I received an email from another author under the KIC umbrella of doom. We've been sharing information about the author's we know, (no names mentioned), to get a more general idea of what the feelings are and actions being taken by the authors. Some are much, much worse off than me, with double-figure numbers of readers who paid for subscriptions just before the hiatus, and have never received anything in the way of refunds or reading. Understandably, there is growing anger and resentment towards KIC and I am more delighted that I am now out of it.

Off to snooker and a few frames, a couple of pints and a couple of whiskies later, I returned to my inbox. It contained an acceptance from Circadian Poems - same day response! My Edwin Morgan article will be published on November 15th.

Just as I was about to shut down my computer for the night, I noticed the CD Bobby Mackerel had sent me, glinting, wanting to be played.

I opened the top of my CD player, placed it onto the mechanism and shut the lid. Excited and just a little apprehensive as to what I was about to hear, I pressed play and waited.

A soothing, rolling piano sound commenced. A small tear formed in the corner of my eye and a smile as broad as the River Clyde spread across my face. It was a song I have not heard in years; thirteen to be precise, but I had been thinking about it very recently. In fact, I spoke about it here on this very blog on the entry dated, Wednesday, October 26th 2005. The song was You by Ten Sharpe.

Anyone who read that entry wil know the significance of this song and why I was so delighted to now receive a copy of it.

Bobby Mackerel, is a legend in his own time. Thanks, big man!!
Colin 1:03 pm | 0 comments |