Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

January's GDR Review

Edinburgh weather always seems to be more extreme in January and February. By lunchtime today the temperature outside had peaked at -1 and what with the breeze in the air, it felt like -10. When I left for work today at 7am, I had to keep moving purely to prevent my knee caps from freezing to my femur.

Getting to work at 7.30am is good for building up flexitime. What it isn't good for is your back or the fact that by half past three you are totally knackered. Having to read Terms of References for four year-old projects only contrives to put one to sleep.

Alcohol, nicotine, coffee and perhaps the odd Class A drug is what most people in here seem to turn to in order to break up the day's monotony.

Travelling home, it seemed even colder than it was on the way in because of the wind that had picked up. It felt like my trousers weren't even on, such was the cold biting gusts that blew against the material on my thighs. As I waited for the bus, my eyeballs stung as the thin layer of moisture instantly froze to ice. My ears felt hollow, as each gust of wind blew into the canals of my inner ear and froze my balancing fluid.

It was altogether very uncomfortable. But get home I did, and I was thankful for it.

On now with looking back at January's writing ups and downs, as I know I cannot put it off forever.

January's GDR Review

* Query What A Waste to more target markets (BBC R4, paying mags) - subbed to GlimmerTrain Press
* Work on Stella - nothing done
* Complete first refradft of Hunting Jack - 76/81 issues re-read and edited
* Keep on top of submissions list - 5 new subs this month. Some responses (all rejections)

* Write poems as the moment takes - no poems written

* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology - still pending
* Write four weekly blog entries for TSDR - done
* Write Robert Burns article for Circadian Poems. Deadline 15/01/06 - published 24/25 Jan (2500 words)
* Write and submit another step-dad article for Interactive Dad - not done

Marketing and Promotion
* Continue marketing and promotion of Fringe Fantastic (see s/sheet for details) - always ongoing. Mostly leaflet distribution and card design.
* Chase up FF review/intervew requests - decided to wait until Feb before chasing up
* Print bookmarks (need photopaper) - done. Also using cards as substitutes
* Keep website up to date - done

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild - not done
* Read from my 'waiting to be read' pile - not read anything this month except from papers/mags/trade
* Research The Cold War - not done

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR - done. Planned out March issue of Scotland's Treasure

Things That Turned Up
* Started new blog for my fishes! (Colly's Fishes)

* Launch of The Scruffy Dog Review, which included my Ian Rankin feature interview, the first of my Scotland's Treasure columns and a book review for Irvine Welsh's Porno.
* Circadian Poems published Robert Burns article over two days (22/23 Jan)

* Big Ugly Review rejected Heart of a Child 2/1
* On A Monday Morning failed in bid to win WM May 2005 Competition
* Open Wide Magazine rejected Loaded on 23/1

Fiction - 0
Non-Fiction (inc. Blogs) - 21,460
Poetry - 0

Outstanding Submissions
Short Stories:

The Edge (1)
Writing Magazine (1)
The Portable Muse (1)
Glimmer Train (3)
Thirteen Magazine (1)
One Story (1)
Wildchild (2)
Summerset Review (1)
Adirondack Review (1)
Fringe Magazine (1)
Gorlan Publications (1)

Not the best month I ever had. In fact, one of the worst. Coming back from holiday over the New Year period left me flagging in what can only be described as a vacuum. I was motivated; I did have ideas; I just couldn't find the inclination to sit down and write anything new.

I used my blog and work I was already committed to, to get my pen moving. Then I dug out Hunting Jack and started re-reading it and editing it. I'm taking it issue by issue before I push it all together into a novel and divide it into chapters. Then the hard work will start.

Slowly I have managed to pull myself out of this suspended frame of mind. I've had to draw myself towards the light and try to get back to where I was before Christmas came along. I was on such a roll leading towards the end of last year when it all came to a shuddering halt on Boxing Day.

Part of it may be I do not know what to expect of this year after what was, relatively speaking, a successful year for me last year. Maybe I've set the bar to a level that frightens me, but I need to use this to get to the next level. Just like Donkey Kong.

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Colin 11:53 am | 0 comments |

Monday, January 30, 2006


When I went to work this morning the street temperature was minus 6 degrees Celsius. Luckily I had my Madness beanie hat on to keep my baldy napper safe and warm.

I definitely benefited from that great sleep yesterday. I was up and about and feeling dandy at 6am and out the door nice and early for work. Makes a change.

I wrote tomorrow's TSDR Blog entry after reading an article in today's Scotsman over lunch. David Icke has hit the news again but when you dig a little bit into what he's been doing since that famous interview on Wogan fifteen years ago, it appears he has embarked on a crazy, yet rewarding life. My article will publish tomorrow.

I did some more work on Hunting Jack. I'm changing the ending. Yes, it will be different. I want it to be open and natural, suspended yet rounded.

In short, there will be more from Jackie McCann in the future.

ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC!
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Colin 3:19 pm | 1 comments |

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Shame On The TV Producers

I got the first decent sleep I've had in over a month last night. One of those ones where you need to be peeled out of your slumber and you feel numb from the eyelids down. It was what my body has been crying out for since I got back from Aberfoyle; a rejuvenating, undisturbed, dream-packed sleep.

I got up and had some coffee. Ian was already round and much of the day was spent finishing off the tidying and helping Ian get the burglar alarm installed. Well, not so much helping, more hanging around waiting to be given something to do.

There's no cellar under the house as we suspected there might have been. Some of the houses on our side do and we thought it might be a handy place to store more junk, but alas it wasn't to be. Instead we have some of the best examples of crappy wiring ever seen, as well as handy access points blocked by piping so it's almost impossible to get under the floorboards. And this house was built by a builder?

The sun set early over the city today leaving everywhere below freezing by dinnertime. I love this weather. I'd rather live in this than in a constant life-sapping heat.

Something I neglected to mention in yesterday's post - Saturday Night Television. Saturday TV used to be an event. It was something the whole family could sit down and enjoy after dinner and everything would be swell. Everyone got what they wanted in some form or another.

Over the last few years standards have slipped, as we all know, but these last couple of years has seen the TV people descend into a complete state of mind where they don't care about anything except ratings. These ratings revolve mostly around reality TV shows that themselves revolve around singing, dancing or both.

I'm talking about shows like Pop Idol, The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, and now Dancing On Ice. I hate these programmes. I cannot emphasise this enough. Everyone wants to be famous and think that they have the talent to sing and dance their way into the nation's hearts. Even the shows that have C-list celebrities, who just use them to try and gain popularity for themselves. It's got to the point I cannot watch it anymore and I usually leave the room to go do something else.

Surely family entertainment should be for the family, not just for those who like this kind of trash TV? By pandering to this niche market the TV companies are alienating sections of the TV License payers public. I blame the TV companies for these family breakdowns because they give no other alternative. It's either stay and be bored shitless or leave the room while the rest of your family are thrilled by talentless squibs.

What is going to happen to our children if they grow up to believe all this marketing and hype of false hope? What will happen when they realise it is too late to get memories of watching family TV when only half the family are there; the other half drive out by the sheer crappiness of it.

I fear the worst.

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Colin 11:06 am | 1 comments |

Saturday, January 28, 2006


I had such a minging hangover today. I didn't; nae couldn't get up until after lunch such was my agony. Dicky tummy and swimming head all symptoms of a heavy night. But it was worth it. I think. I might be getting too old for this sort of thing.

I eventually managed to eat some lunch; Scotch pie and beans - probably not the best idea but I needed something hot and stodgy in me. I washed it down with some Irn-Bru - God's gift to the Scottish.

I spent the afternoon getting my office tidy and organised, I'm fed up with the way it seems to get overloaded with papers and books. Gail's right - how can I possibly read five books at once? Things are going to change in here. I am going to make myself write until the feeling comes back. I feel detached from myself artistically and I need to get back into the 'zone'. I'm not waiting for it top happen any longer - I'm going to make it happen and getting my office sorted will help sort out my frame of mind.

With a shift at work to do from 9pm I put my head down for forty winks early evening and set the alarm for 8pm. I must have turned the alarm off in my sleep because I woke to the sound of a taxi pulling up outside. I just knew it was mine and sure enough when I looked at the clock it was 8.45 and my pre-booked cab was outside waiting. I threw on my clothes, kissed the girls goodnight and shot off into the coldness of Edinburgh.

Work was slow but after it was complete I had several hours waiting while it was tested by the business people. This allowed me to do some writing! Yes - writing. I wrote out several blog entries to catch up with my fish blog and I worked on Hunting Jack. It's getting more complicated towards the end because I'm making some major changes i.e. people not dying after all etc. I read over what I already have down for Stella and also made a carefully thought out decision.

I am not going to write anymore short stories until Stella and A Friend To Die For are complete. I have article and column commitments to fulfil but as for short fiction, I am putting a hold on it while I get myself back into the rut of large fictional projects. There is nothing in my WIP folder for this so I'm not leaving anything hanging.

I eventually got away from work at 2am; tired and gagging for a decent cup of tea. I had a quick one when I got in and hit the sack.

ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC!
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For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 10:40 am | 0 comments |

Friday, January 27, 2006

On The Razz

Thank f*** it's Friday!

This place is so depressing, the depressives are now off the scale with depression. There is a general feeling of apathy toward everything this company says and does and the management seem to prefer to handle it by closing their ears and eyes and looking skyward.

To quote Daffy Duck: "What a way to run a railroad!"

I headed to Clark's Barat lunchtime for some much needed respite. A lovely cheese and pickle roll from the bar platter washed down with a beautiful pint of freshly chilled Tennent's Lager. I was back in the office for a stint in the afternoon getting ready for an implementation tomorrow night, but after I was done I was back in Clark's.

One of my pals has achieved a career advancement to his benefit, and so the evening turned into somewhat of a celebration. I sold two more books while in Clark's, too - lovely jubbly!

We moved from Clark's to some stuck-up bar off George Street. It was dire. Full of ponces who are so much better than everyone else because they dress in designer gear and drive porches. And there's me with my big black raincoat on and stubble, handing out leaflets for Fringe Fantastic. I seem to remember a posh old woman shouting at Tom for something so we left soon after.

We went to the new piano bar in the West End; The Rat Pack Piano Bar. It's very red inside; red and dark. We took a seat in the empty club and sat with our drinks talking and watching the video of The Rat Pack live in St. Louis from about 1963 or something like that.

Zander ordered champagne and some of Tom's work pals joined us later to make up the numbers. The champers didn't sit with me. It's too rich for my pallet and I've never been a fan so I turned most of it down, preferring to stick to my vodka.

We went to another bar but I can't for the life of me remember what it was called. I remember it being very cold and I remember there being a lot of young clubbers there. I remember feeling quite out of place and leaving soon after.

Taxis were about but I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I managed to get myself onto a night bus at the east end after walking for a couple of miles and then walked the rest of the way from Leith Walk to the house. It was around 2am when I got in and I think I may have been a tad pissed.

That ends the flashbacks so there's nothing more I can add.

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Colin 11:30 pm | 1 comments |

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Liberalism Gone Mad

Julie, the girl in my team is from Currie, west of Edinburgh. Now I'm in the mood for some Indian food. Maybe a Chicken Dhansak or a Lamb Dupiaza with pilau rice and naan bread.

This weekend - perhaps.

Work was slow; lots going and none of it going right. Usual story. This weekend's work now has a higher risk factor attached to it than would otherwise normally have been. I've ensured my head won't be on the block should the revolution come. Thanks to signed letters of agreement, I'll only be a bystander.

I watched Question Time in the evening. The latest Liberal Democrat to release some big news, proudly stood his ground on national telly. Personally, I think this latest development is a superb PR exercise designed to deflect the bad press the LibDems were getting over the alcoholic revelations of Charles Kennedy and the way he was treated, followed shortly by Mark Oaten's revelation that he prefers young rent-boys to his wife and kids.

Simon Hughes "coming out" has put the public's gaze firmly on him in a more sympathetic light rather then the extremely damaging press the other two had provided the party. Now he is contending to be their new leader, he has played a gamble but a very clever and calculated hand.

ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC!
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For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 11:42 am | 2 comments |

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Today is my wee sister, Lindsay's, 27th birthday.


And not forgetting; Here's tae Rabbie Burns!

Got through a lot of the editing for Hunting Jack; 4 issues and around 4,000 words. There are a lot more "continuity" errors towards the end than the beginning. Things like using the wrong names or characters not quite moving around logically.

Good to get these straightened out and now I am approaching the end of the story, I am finding I am moving round the original plot a lot more. I'm making it more dramatic, interesting and pulling for the reader. I'm asking "What if" a lot more and using what comes out of that where I think it adds to the storyline. I'm coming to understand the story on another level, too; something I hadn't expected when I started to read back over it.

The next edit will be more in-depth. It will handle the pot more and and will involve me making more dramatic changes to the background and to the future. I want to do more with Jackie, and even if this book never gets published the one thing I can take from it is an understanding of what Jackie McCann is all about.

Went out in the evening. Drank four pints and drew 4-4 at snooker. It was a day of four's.

ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC!
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For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 2:09 pm | 1 comments |

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Burns Article Published

Circadian Poems are celebrating Rabbie Burns Day. The second instalment of my article, Celebrating the Life and Genius of Robert Burns, has been published by them today:

Click here to read Part Two

Click here to read Part One

The website had technical problems uploading images, so all the accompanying pictures may get loaded at a later date.

I've still not written anything, though on my way home I had an idea for a children's story. One of my GDR's for this year is to look at children's poetry (I already have quite a few banked), but this was such an interesting idea I might just have to follow it up, it perked my interest that much.

Where and when did I have this idea? While walking home after work - that same old routine has struck me with inspiration yet again.

ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC!
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For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 3:27 pm | 0 comments |

Monday, January 23, 2006


The state of the office is causing much consternation amongst the 'sheep' that work here. The coffee machine is churning out tar with no cups, the lift is broken, there is a new colony of fleas, all but one of the cubicles in the men's toilet has a broken seat, blocked cistern or inability to flush and to top it off the temperature means most folk have the desire to whip off their shirts and bask in the heat.

No matter how much we complain, we get nothing done about it. It's a disgrace. This place is not fit for a rat with syphilis. Nothing against rats, but you get my drift.

Came into to shed loads of work. Too tired to even look at it. I struggled all day to keep from nodding off.

I desperately need to find that spark to get writing. I'm dead without it yet it spurs me so much even in its absence.

Loaded rejected from Open Wide Magazine.

Sums the whole thing up really. This is the worst start to a writing year I've ever had.

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 go to the website:

Colin 3:09 pm | 3 comments |

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Never That Easy

The choice of venue for our Christmas Lunch last Friday caused quite a stir. There were three camps set out, each with their own agendas. Some people were happy with Cumberland's, a few people planted a flag with Bert's Bar in Stockbridge and there are several who came round to my way of thinking in asking, what is wrong with Clark's?

As it turned out the "shindig" ended up in Cumberland's though that didn't stop me going there via Clark's. I was late, of course, but not bothered in the least.

I met Sarah, the photographer who shot the Fringe Fantastic cover, last night. We met for a pint and so I could give her a copy of the book. As is usual when I am out with Sarah, the couple of pints I told Gail I was only going to have, turned into us not leaving until closing time.

The weekend didn't have much to write home about. Lots of work and errands to do, which by the end of it all meant I was knackered. Really knackered. I got some new fishes on Saturday morning and got my dinner made for me at my MIL's on Saturday night.

That's about it. January isn't going to be as good as I thought; pretty poor in fact. Last week was false hope that I might get through a lot of work. I did pick up towards the end of the week but that was lost this weekend.

Nobody ever said writing was going to be easy. Nobody said it was going to be this hard either, though.

ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC!
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For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 12:53 pm | 0 comments |

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

It was warmer than it looked today. Well, only if you live in Ediburgh, that is. Lots of cloud cover and a stickiness in the air making it a quite an uncomfortable journey to work. The office was roasting, too. Everyone sitting sweltering in the fake heated air; it's just awful.

I experienced a rare moment of surrealism as I made my way to the office, though. A van pulled up and the driver asked directions to get to Dublin Street, in a strong southern Irish accent. For a moment I couldn't remember where I was precisely though I recognised the street name. Then it came to me. We were already in Dublin Street. Weird, eh?

I got into a huge debate today about religion and its effects on terrorism. In the end it was decided we would agreed to disagree, but the person I was conversing with has some pretty remarkable views on the subject. The main thing I took from it was that no matter how much television you watch or newspapers you read, there is no substitute for getting out there and talking to people.

For instance, nobody can know all there is to know about the Ireland conflict unless they have been truly exposed to it. Not until you have met the people involved at the ground, can you begin to really understand. The same goes for the Middle East. The media distorts things for a Western agenda and allows for certain points of view and prejudices to take precedence. The same was true in Ireland but for differing political gains.

My point is this; never assume anything to be true. Ever.

My team has decided to have it's Christmas Night Out this Friday. No, not an early one for Christmas 2006, but a late one for last year. Why? Don't ask. It's all bollocks and typical of this place to try and be different in the name of being cool.

The boss asked for suggestions for the meal so it could be booked in advance. I suggested Clark's Bar since no reservations would be required (as a joke). The next thing I know we're all going to Cumberland's up the road because Clark's is "not very upmarket."

Hmmm. Not upmarket? Just because you order your food from the owner who is always more pissed than any of her customers, rather than select a sandwich from one of the platters on the bar? I don't think so. In Clark's you get no smell of bleach filling your nostrils, you get a good pint every time, you get good banter and you don't get pretentious east-coasters making snobby comments about other people's locals.

If the Cumberland Bar is upmarket, I'll sit in Clark's every time.

I played a blinder at the snooker this evening. I won 8-0; my best result and best performance ever. It topped off a good day. In fact, no matter how much writing I do or don't get through this month, January is turning out to be pretty great.

ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC!
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For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 11:48 am | 0 comments |

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I Believe

Sent off my Robert Burns article to Circadian Poems. Final word count was circa 2500 so I think it may get split over two days. It has a natural break in it anyway so I reckon that will work and make it easier on the eye.

Got news that Fringe Fantastic has reached the good old US of A. Several of the competition winners and people who ordered copies have sent in emails to say their books arrived. Hopefully, they will still be smiling after they have had time to read it.

I didn't get any writing done in the evening as planned. I had things to do - things I would have talked about last year happily enough, but as this is now a restricted blog thanks to the patheticness of other people, you'll have to make do with that little tit-bit instead.

I got the latest issue of Writing Magazine. The winner of last years 'Dictionary' competition was announced. Needless to say, it wasn't me, thogh I thoght I stood a good chance. This means that my delicate story of loneliness and grievance is free to be submitted as a short story on the circuit. I marked up my Submission Tracker and will select a few suitable publications to send it to.

Which got me to thinking. I said in my GDR review that last year I had NO short stories published during 2005. In fact, I've only had one published ever - Once a Borderer by This Is It Magazine in May 2004.

Everything else has been my e-serial, poetry, chapbooks and non-fiction articles.

Last year, however, I had Heart of a Child accepted by Wild Child, which was subsequently pulled by me and Daffodils accepted with conditions by NFG, only to be foiled when the publication folded. Neither of these stories has found a placement yet. Both are good enough to be published.

What is it that makes me put up with rejection after disappointment after rejection? It's not just that I am stubborn, or that I am naturally resistant to getting depressed over rejection letters. It's not just my determination to see my stories published. It goes deeper than all that. I believe in my work. I believe in it so much I know it will get there in the end and that I will succeed in the end.

I'm not much of a believer in much else - I have no Faith I can relate to. But when it comes to this writing lark, I BELIEVE!

ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC!
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For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 1:12 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, January 16, 2006


I read an interesting article on the BBC website today during my lunch break.

Faulty TV Digi-Box Sparks SOS Mission

Here's a rundown of the pertinent points:

A faulty TV digital box sparked a rescue mission on January 5th, by sending out a signal identical to those transmitted by vessels in distress. It was picked up by RAF Kinloss as an SOS call from the Portsmouth area and a coastguard helicopter spent two hours searching the harbour area before the signal was traced to dry land.

An RAF spokesman said the signal had been a "complete freak" after it was picked up by one of five orbiting satellites. He also said it was transmitting on the major emergency frequency.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom was asked to look into the signal and confirmed the source. They were able to establish it was coming from a household.

"This is very very unusual, it's a complete freak and the odds of a digibox sending out such a signal must be astronomical."

Ofcom has since removed the £50 Freeview box for tests and said, "They shouldn't be sending out signals, let alone maydays."

What I want to know is, how is it possible for a digibox to be able to send out a digital signal that is strong enough to reach a satellite? Why would it need to? I presume so that the box can speak with it's host in order to receive and allow interactive digital programming. Fair enough.

I also assume it can be used to follow an individual's personal viewing habits. Fair enough.

If viewing habits can be followed then surely marketing can be targeted. Hmmmm.

And what is that wee black 'eye' that never flashes or seem to be doing anything. Oh dear.

Could it be this is the first slip up in the mass conspiracy of the Secret Government? That they are indeed spying on all of us and collecting the data so they can determine the mood and thinking of the 'people'. That this information can be collated and used to decide when best to launch new Government initiatives and anti-terror bills?

Sounds like a science fiction movie but I'm reminded of the episode of The Simpsons where Bart is accused of being paranoid when he is put onto anti-hyperactivity medication. It turns out he was able to detect secret satellites that are spying on us and all of it used in the name of marketing new products.

What's the point of me even talking about this. We all know subliminal advertising happens anyway but how far does it go? Think about it. Is there more to this country than meets the eye? Is there more to the advertisers than you think possible? Who else might use the information you provide on your Census form or on a Bank statement? Is digital TV just another leap towards the control of a nation by the wee people under the ground?
And where's my medication?

On other matters of more pressing importance, I completed the Robert Burns article. I'll send it in tomorrow morning after one final read. I hate it when I see a spelling mistake after something has been submitted.

I had planned to write in the evening but our new TV arrived. A 28" widescreen beauty for our living room; a Christmas present to Gail and me from her folks. Not bad. Not bad at all. I had to set it up, which I didn't mind of course, and it took a wee while to get all the extensions sorted out and connected through the cable box (spying machine?)

Then I had to test it out. I stuck in Casino and the first thing I noticed was the amazing improvement in sound and the quality of the picture.

Things just seem to be blocking my way to solid writing at the moment.

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 go to the website:

Colin 11:30 am | 2 comments |

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Cheeky Promotion

Housework and then more housework. Couldn't get to writing as I hoped for; too many things to do. I was out and about as well to various shops but I can't complain since the weather was quite nice; cold, but pleasant.

I watched Gangs of New York in the evening with Gail. She wasn't up for it but she soon got right into it. I remembered why I enjoyed it so much; Daniel Day Lewis is superb as William "The Butcher" Cutting.

I did manage to get another two read-throughs and edits to my Robert Burns article for Circadian Poems and I updated my blog and GDR.

It's been a slow and restless start to the month. I keep getting these great ideas of ways to promote and sell my book, but at the same time I want, nae need, to keep writing. I'm having diffculty getting the flow running fast. It's all dribs and drabs and I seem to keep finding other things to do even if it is within the writing field.

One marketing idea I had is if I am evern in a taxi, they have these wee slots in the back that contain the business cards for the cab company. I'm thinking I could "share" these we holders with my own Fringe Fantastic cards and get some mobile advertising around Edinburgh. I'm not afraid to be cheeky when promoting my work; I like cheek, it makes me smile.

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 go to the website:

Colin 10:39 am | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Gearing Up

Using some vouchers for Fopp I received last Christmas, but recently found in my room, I spent some time browsing the store on Rose Street for CD's, DVD's and Books. I want to get the new album from Arctic Monkeys but couldn't see it anywhere - not even sure if it's been released yet but I'll keep on looking.

What I did get were two DVD's: Ratcatcher written and directed by Lynne Ramsay, is a film I've wanted to see for a few years but never gotr round to it. It's about a young boy in Glasgow in the mid-70's set against the backdrop of the bin strikes. It's not a Hollywood film but won sewveral awards. I also got Gangs of New York directed by Martin Scorcese; a film I saw in the cinema when it was out and loved it, so I bought it for £7 to watch over the weekend.

I also bought a book called Surrealism, which contains hundreds of examples of art and literature by 20th Century artists. It's packed full of pictures and information about all the artwork and it look like one of those books that is great to read while on the throne.

In between helping out in the house I found time to complete my article for Circadian Poems. Devon Ellington asked me to write about Robert Burns for the upcoming Burns issue and I've been working on it. The skeleton was already down as part of last year's Great Scottish Authors series, so I have adapted it suitably.

The main part of my afternoon was spent out in the Tropical fish shop. If you want to read all about this then go to 'Colly's Fishes blog, but basically I came away with a handful of my first fish for my new tank. 3 Red Guppy's and 3 X-Ray Tetra's are now the latest members of the Galbraith family and they look superb.

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 go to the website:

Colin 10:42 am | 0 comments |

Friday, January 13, 2006

Return To Clark's

Lunchtime saw me back in Clark's Bar for the first time this year. It felt great to be back - great pint and some great banter. It was made all the more enjoyable when I sold another copy of Fringe Fantastic to a fellow patron of the bar!

I contacted my publisher about the 15 missing copies of Fringe Fantastic. Since these books were ordered through a now unavailable 'supersaver' service, they are unable to track them, but they have said they will place a re-order at no charge to me (but worth £54/$95 to them) if they have not arrived by next Monday.

I won't be taking any more books through this free service they offer. It seems that no attempt is made to ensure the books arrive but I have to say I'm more than happy with the service I get. They always answer my queries and always offer to fulfil my expectations without being asked. I can’t really complain.

I started a new project, combining my new hobby with my writing. It's part of my GDR2006 so I thought it would be a good idea. The projects is called Colly's Fishes, and it's a small blog following my experiences with my new aquarium. I have made entries for various stages through the life of the aquarium to date starting on Christmas Day.

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 go to the website:

Colin 3:26 pm | 1 comments |

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Getting The Word Out

All outstanding orders and FF competition winners have now been fulfilled. Final shipping of these literary treats took place this afternoon during my lunch break, and while I am still 15 books short from my allocation, I am happy to say that nobody who has ordered one, is still waiting.

I get a real buzz sending my books out. While I cannot make people like the book, the fact they have spent money on buying my art is a rush in itself. I have come up with a few new ideas to promote the book as well. Other than all the standard things I already do (press releases, fliers etc.) I need to find new outlets for the book. Places, other than bookshops, that are unique and can be used in a cross-promotion kind of way.

Places like Clark's Bar. I am going to ask them if they would like to have a Writer in Residence. Me. They sell my book over the bar and I promote the bar through my work and interviews. Clark's is already heavily used as a location in Hunting Jack, and my flier is still up behind the bar, but there is a bigger collaboration that might be made.

I was also thinking about poetry readings. If I could find a place that holds regular poetry nights in a bar, where people can come and have a pint and be entertained by stand-up poets. Poetry Slam nights they are called, but the last time I looked I could find nowhere in Edinburgh that still does them. There was one, but it ceased a couple of years ago. If I had the balls to do it, I could sell my books at the event.

A lot of the offers I have had I take with a pinch of salt. Someone I met while on holiday - a salesman of outdoor gear - said they reckon they could get Tizos to sell my book through their Edinburgh stores. And Tanfield Bowling Club said they would like to have me in to do a reading and signing session. I also have a connection to several schools in Scotland, but although they might be interested to have me in for a talk, I doubt I would be allowed to ask school kids for money!

I will be preparing to approach several specific bookshops and the Fringe organisers very soon with a view to organising some sort of campaign at this summers Festival. I'm not sure if I will need a license or anything, but if I can get the official organisers on my side I reckon The Scotsman won't be able to refuse my repeated ankle-biting.

Elsewhere, I submitted What A Waste, Loaded and The Oasis to Glimmer Train Press. I need to go through my submission list and chase some publications up. Some stories are now off the circuit after suffering rejections so I need to get them back out and circulating.

And Stella is beginngin to make it's voice heard now that the holiday season is past. I can feel my drive returning.

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 go to the website:

Colin 12:37 pm | 1 comments |

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I'm having trouble getting started this year. I can't seem to find anything to write about even though I know what I want to do. I think I'm suffering from major procrastination brought on by the recent holiday. Too much sleep, bevvy and food has left me feeling lethargic and lazy and wishing the holiday would last. Post-holiday laziness.

It's not just me. Other people seem to be struggling to get back into the routine of everyday life. Taxi drivers are complaining about having to get out of bed for their 5am starts and IT workers are stretching flexi-time limits to maximum breaking point.

Maybe I relaxed just too much while up North. Is it possible to forget how to work when you spend a week doing absolutely nothing except relaxing by a pool, playing in the snow and drinking beer and whisky? If so, I have to pick myself up and shake myself down. The first part of this process was the GDR closure for last year and creating my plan for this year.

Last year took a lot out of me with the publication and behind-the-scenes work for Fringe Fantastic. Four months work and counting. I probably won't do another this year, instead turning my full attention on my novels. It's time to break into another market and really start to set things on fire.

I've has some lovely feedback from people who have bought copies of Fringe Fantastic. It really makes it worthwhile when people go to the bother of letting you know what they think - and even better when it's appreciated.

I watched a documentary about the Late Lord Lichfield. What an amazingly talented and genuinely nice bloke. I admired his drive and determination to succeed and I admired the way he built his career anonymuosly, not relying on his title and status. Of course, there weer times it was the key to taking his career to the enxt level, but I am of the opinion he would have become a successful and famous photographer regardless.

A small mention for my pal Brooks Carver over in Illinois, USA, who has just launched a new website. Prairie Sky Press is now online and you can buy both of Brooks's books from the site, too, so please check it out.

Finally, I have published a DISCLAIMER for this weblog. This statement sets out what this blog is about and what its limits are. It can be viewed by clicking on the link on the left hand column near the top of the page. If you can't be bothered clickong over to read it, here it is in all its glory.

While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, humour and honesty of the information contained in this website, the Publisher of the Freedom From The Mundane Weblog, Colin Galbraith, hereafter known as the Publisher, cannot be held responsible for any errors, omissions, misrepresentations, red herrings or assumptions found within its pages, or mistakenly made by the readers.

The Publisher accepts no responsibility for the contents of websites for other organisations which appear as links on this site. The views expressed on websites linked to, do not necessarily represent those of the Publisher.

The Freedom From The Mundane Weblog is NOT a personal diary of the Publisher.

It is the policy of the Publisher to write only about those events which affect literary matters, and none of a personal nature. This is due to personal attacks by third party smart-arses.

The Publisher strongly recommends that anyone who is concerned about the contents of this Weblog, should seek medical advice without delay.

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 go to the website:

Colin 3:40 pm | 2 comments |

Monday, January 09, 2006

Goals, Dreams & Resolutions for 2006


What writing breakthrough this past year (2005) made me the proudest?
* Self-publishing Brick by Brick, my first foray into poetry chapooks and photography
* Self-publshing and marketing of Fringe Fantastic chapbook in paperback
* Talking and learning from Ian Rankin on a 1-2-1 basis

Where am I with my writing now? (end of 2005)

* Not getting through enough fiction to keep me happy
* Learning curve through self-publishing was massive with great feeling of acheviement
* First strides made into paying markets and non-fction writing
* Slowly being taken more seriously as a career writer


What project(s) did I leave unfinished last year that I need to finish for my own peace of mind?

A Friend To Die For - 40% complete
Stella - 10% complete
Working with Websites - 65% complete

What creative goals do I want to achieve over the next year?

* Complete Stella and A Friend to Die For
* Complete drafting and development of Hunting Jack
* Look at developing Jackie McCann as a character
* Write regular non-fiction articles on areas of interest .i.e step-dad, music, Scotland's arts
* Be more involved with Scruffy Dog Editorial work
* Produce more photographic work
* Adapt What A Waste into a stage play

What financial goals do I want to achieve over the next year?

* This is not my driving force. Getting published and recognised is more important to me. Of course, in the transition from full-time office-worker to full time writer this has to become an issue, but until I feel I am at a certain standard with my writing and inner-belief, then I cannot use it as a means to forward my art.

* Aim to target more paying markets and develop work relations through publications already accepted to.

* Make Fringe Fantastic as much of a financial success as possible.

What creative steps are necessary to achieve these goals?

* Focus more heavily on fiction
* Do lots more research for fictional work
* Research, target and develop more paying markets
* Be more organised with marketing and develop PR relations
* Try to make more time to read more books

What steps do I need to take on the technical front to achieve these goals?

* Grammar
* Internal Thesaurus
* Editing
* Upgraded my PC

What changes do I need to make in my daily life to achieve these goals?

* Continue to convince my friends and family to consider me as a writer first and foremost.
* Continue to devote time and effort to the act of sitting down to write and of the act of research.
* Try to develop my writers network.

What marketing steps are needed to achieve these goals?

* Promote FF to a larger audience including the Fringe Festival in August.
* Continue to develop the process I built when promoting HJ and FF.
* Develop relations with other writers, editors and journalists.

How much time each day do I vow to devote to writing?

Weekdays - 4 hours minimum
Weekends - 10 hours minimum

This is flexible. See working time guide for moer information.

With what new type of writing will I experiment with in the coming year?

* Technical writing needs more work
* Poetry for kids


Where do I want to be with my writing in the long-term?

* I want to be a successful and ackowledged writer.
* To be able to resign from my job, in the knowledge that I can support my family to at least the standard of living we have now.

What will make me refer to myself, first and foremost, as a "writer"?

* Complete A Friend to Die For and Stella
* Complete drafting of Hunting Jack
* Find an agent
* Establish myself as a good columnist for TSDR
* Be published more regularly in non-fiction markets that are paying and higher quality
* Work with my colleagues to develop The Scruffy Dog Review
* Persuade others around me to see me as a writer first and an office worker second

What other goals, dreams and resolutions in my non-writing life do I want to work on in tandem with my writing goals?

* Lose my beer gut (or a fair portion of it)
* Do more DIY around the house

What new non-writing interests do I wish to add to my life this year?

* Find the time to start fly-fishing again
* Develop my tropical aquarium
* Find inner peace

Using the above GDR's for 2006, I will break each month down and set goals for each month. Here is January's GDR:

* Query What A Waste to more target markets (BBC R4, paying mags)
* Work on Stella
* Complete first refradft of Hunting Jack - 64/81 done
* Keep on top of submissions list

* Write poems as the moment takes

* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology
* Write four weekly blog entries for TSDR
* Write Robert Burns article for Circadian Poems. Deadline 15/01/06
* Write and submit another step-dad article for Interactive Dad

Marketing and Promotion
* Continue marketing and promotion of Fringe Fantastic (see spreadsheet for full details)
* Chase up FF review/intervew requests
* Print bookmarks (need photopaper)
* Keep website up to date

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild
* Read from my 'waiting to be read' pile
* Research The Cold War

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR
Colin 11:31 am | 1 comments |

Saturday, January 07, 2006

December's GDR and the 2005 Review

* Query What A Waste to more target markets (BBC R4, paying mags) - not done
* Work on Stella - WIP
* Complete first refradft of Hunting Jack - 64/81 done
* Keep on top of submissions list - done
* Start conversion of What A Waste into a play - not definite, depends on other work - not done
* Submit first couple of chapters and synopsis to Undiscovered Authors competition, deadline 31/12 - done

* Launch Fringe Fantastic on 2/12 - done
* Write poems as the moment takes - wrote several loose poems now WIP

* Complete Ian Rankin feature for Scruffy Dog Review (deadline 15/12) - done
* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology - pending
* Complete first issue of Scotland's Treasure for TSDR. (Deadline 18/12) - done
* Write four weekly blog entries for TSDR 2/4 complete (Muriel Spark, One City)
* Write Robert Burns article for Circadian Poems. Deadline 15/01/06 - pending

Marketing and Promotion
* Market and promote Fringe Fantastic (see spreadsheet for full details) - WIP
* Print bookmarks (need card, have asked Mik for advice) - done
* Keep website up to date - done

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild - not done
* Read from my 'waiting to be read' pile - Strip Jack by Ian Rankin, One City by Rankin, Smith and Welsh, Pilgrim Heart by Brooks Carver
* Buy book on The Cold War - not done
* Research The Cold War on the web - not done

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR - done
* Put together a GDR for 2006 - done

Things That Turned Up
* Attended the One Book, One Story event at the Festival Theatre with Ian Rankin, Irvine Welsh and Alexander McCall-Smith.

* Interactive Dad published Top Mistakes Stepdads Should Avoid on Dec 5th
* Writer-on-Line publised How to Make Your Own E-book For Free on Dec 7th
* Books finally arrived on December 8th

* Failed to continue great word-count into the second half of the month
* Failed to plan out the month’s work as best as possible and allowing outsde influences to impact my goals.
* Storyhouse bought over - all poems returned

Fiction - zero!
Non-Fiction - 13,450
Blog (inc.TSDR) - 10600

After a great start to the month, writing over 10k and having a couple of non-fiction articles published, things took a downturn. The holidays and other unforeseen events contributed to cutting off my output rather dramatically. Better planning could have avoided this, but sometimes this s the way it goes. I will learn from the mistakes I made this month, of that I am positive.

I felt tired by the end of the month. Tired and drained. I never wrote anything during the second half of the month so by the time my holidays came I felt guilty but relieved to get away to the Scottish highlands.

The past year has been exciting, dramatic and full of twists and turns. Have I achieved what I set out to do one year ago? Here's my review of the year.

GDR 2005 - Review
(Written in January 2005 and updated monthly throughout the year)

1. Where do you want to be with your writing in the long-term?

* To be an accomplished writer. - I feel I have made major strides towards this in 2005
* To be able to resign from my job, in the knowledge that I can support my family to at least the standard of living we have now. - Still a long way off!

2. Where are you with your writing now? (end of 2004)

* Much further than I expected!
* 1 Short Story published May 2004 - online magazine - non-paying
* 1 Short Story accepted (subsequently pulled) for February 2005
* 6 Poems published - 2 online magazines - both non-paying
* 1 serial published - online e-zine - paying

This year I have had:
* zero short stories published
* 6 indvidual poems published
* 2 chapbooks published (1 online, 1 paperback) constituting 13 poems in Brick by Brick and 58 poems in Fringe Fantastic.
* 7 non-fiction articles published

3. What project did you leave unfinished last year that you need to finish for your own peace of mind?

* First novel Work In Progress: A Friend To Die For - 40% complete - not worked on in 2005

4. What creative goals do you want to achieve over the next year?

* Complete Hunting Jack to novel length - completed in May
* Move Hunting Jack into new areas - e-book was planned but cancelled after KIC folded. Looked at self-publishing the serial but moved that project to Fringe Fantastic. PSH Contest sponsor prize was test run for self-publishing HJ through my site. 1 month successful.
* Complete A Friend To Die For - not worked on in 2005
* Write 1 short story per month - target not met but now writing for specfic markets. Prefer to write about what I want then try to pitch. Found no use in scheduling work. Feel better letting it happen than forcing it.
* Write 2 'deliberate' poems per month - way over target including Fringe Fantastic chapbook. Best as and when. Found chapbook method of writing (themed) a great way of approaching the writing.
* Continue to write inspired poems as and when - see above - moving into whole new poetic territories. Haiku, sarcastic, comedy, observational and traditional all expanded.
* Write 3 KIC Website columns - on track as at Feb 05 - mag pulled early March 05
* Write 3 KIC Theatre Review columns - on track as at Jan 05. Feb (for May) still pending. - mag pulled early March 05
* Look for interesting articles to write in other areas (music, travel etc.) - Edinburgh Literary Figures articles for Literary Traveller led to Great Scottish Writers series. Possible move into travel writing though not happened yet. Regular column with The Scruffy Dog review called Scotland's Treasure covering the arts, theatre and music in Scotland starting December. Started writing articles on step-fathering and began work on a similar themed anthology wth Tall Tales Press whch will move into 2006.

5. What financial goals do you want to achieve over the next year? Yearly? Monthly? Weekly?

* This is not my driving force. Getting published and recognised is more important to me. Of course, in the transition from full-time office-worker to full time writer this has to become an issue, but until I feel I am at a certain standard with my writing and inner-belief, then I cannot use it as a means to forward my art.
* This still stands but I made big moves into more paying markets.

6. What steps do you see necessary in your life to achieve these goals?

* Keep to a target of words per week - not so much. Tried to stick to GDR and project targets rather than words. Once serial complete, tried to keep to word count on novel WIP and other fictional projects.
* Research and target more paying fictional and non-fictional markets - progress was slow. Not deep enough to start but got first paid non-fiction sale with RLS article at The Literary Traveller.
* Be more strict where I submit to - targeting more paying and print markets and 'tough' online markets - achieving this with multiple submissions of work and starting to see paid acceptances.
* Be more organised with my marketing - specific targeting to journalists and relevant publications has produced some interest. PR working better and learning the trade as I go. 10 week marketing plan developed for Fringe Fantastic launch.

7. Each month, pick one step and work on it.

January - Research non-fiction markets
February - Research fiction markets
March - Research fiction markets
April - Review submission tracker and divide into paying vs. print vs. online
May - Keep focussing on writing and submitting to high profile/paying markets
June - no progress
Jul - no progress
August - Business cards and marketing at the Festival

* This approach isn't working for me on a monthly basis. Too rigid. I prefer flexibility to get through more work. This section will be scrapped in next years GDR.

8. What will make you refer to yourself, first and foremost, as "writer"?

* Complete Hunting Jack as a novel in its own right - complete as at 31/5/05
* Complete A Friend to Die For and search for an agent - WIP
* Establish myself as a good columnist for KIC Magazine - 1 issue complete then scrapped when magazine folded after 1 issue
* Become a regular columnist for other markets - no progress made. Fiction the priority. Non-Fiction advancing well. Regular column now with TSDR (Scotland's Treasure).
* Have stories published in paying and quality markets, especially traditional print - submitting continuously. Slowly seeing better results.
* Have others around me see me as a writer and not an office worker - getting there slowly in work and family. Business cards, website, leaflets and work plan have helped. Publication of Fringe Fantastic seems to really be forcing people to take me seriously and has surprised a lot of people as to how serious I am.

9. What steps do you need to take on the technical front to achieve your goals?

* Grammar - took free online courses and did reading on areas of writing. Want to get Eats, Shoots and Leaves.
* Internal Thesaurus - still need to develop more as writing. Use of thesaurus and noting interesting words.
* Editing - developed a process of editing which seems to be working. Tested on large pieces of work such as HJ, Fringe, Stella etc. Experimenting with new types through work incorporating different pov. Getting easier to do as a habit while writing, not after. Joined a crit forum, which has helped me since I am not only crittng other fiction but learning from crits received.

10. What steps do you need to take on the creative front to achieve your goals?

* Get more organised - Home office complete. Filing much more organised.
* Take on new and challenging fictional projects - e-books/chapbooks self-publication becoming more interesting. New projects after HJ include Project X (on hold just now) and other blog-related work. Fringe Fantastic launched Dec 2nd. New novel WIP - Stella. Became Associate Editor at The Scruffy Dog Review.

11. What changes do you need to make in your daily life (interaction with friends, family, job) to make this work?

* Continue to make progress convincing my friends and family to consider me a writer first and foremost. - Easier said than done. Still feel as though it is viewed as a hobby by most people though Fringe Fantastic has really moved people's attitudes, but some folk just refuse to see it. I'll probably stop trying to convince people because it's a waste of energy and up to them. Be nice to have more support but it's not essential. Everyone wants a free copy of FF just because they know me! I‘m very self-motivated when it comes to my writing career.

* Be more devoted and committed to the act of sitting down to write. - getting easier to find time and am squeezing writing into my notebook wherever I go; inside or out. Getting to write between 2 and 5 hours per weekday, sometimes more at weekends. Proving to be more difficult balancing family and workload so having to extend working hours to more difficult times of the day. Creation of flexible writing guide and agreeing all my work shifts in advance with my family has greatly improved motivation as well as output.

12. What marketing steps do you need to achieve your goals?

* Develop and organise the process I built when promoting Hunting Jack - developing for use with other projects - basically a checklist but always flexible for improvement. Updated as I go.
* Make the process quicker and develop templates - done and updated when new ideas come to me. Follow through ideas instead of letting them fester.

13. How much time each day do you vow to devote to your writing?

* Weekdays - 2 hours minimum - doing 4+ per night on an average night
* Weekends - 10 hours minimum - fluctuates but on average I am meeting this. 66 hours per week timetabled out in work plan.

14. With what new type of writing will you experiment in the coming year?

* Technical writing - web manuals coming along nicely but stalled since spring. Wanted complete by end August but never happened with FF taking over. This really needs looked at now. Other things took over in priority but must not let it slide. Have thought about self-publishing it. Would depend on success of Festival chapbook. Needs to be seriously looked at start of 2006.

15. What new non-writing interest do you wish to add to your life this year?

* Find the time to start fly-fishing again - got fishing equipment back from folks. Need to find rivers in Lothian and renew old license on River Gryffe.
* Read a book on Buddhism - took web links and read up on it. Got major issues with religion (any kind) at the moment.

16. What writing breakthrough this past year (2004) made you the proudest?

* Having my first short story story published
* Having my first poem published
* Having Hunting Jack accepted as a serial by KIC as paid fiction

This year the major breakthroughs have been:
* Self-publishing of Brick by Brick e-book
* Self-publication and marketing of Fringe Fantastic
* Meeting with and learning from Ian Rankin
* Networking and contacts made with other writers and journalists through PR

17. What other goals, dreams and resolutions in your non-writing life do you want to work on in tandem with your writing goals?

Buy a new house with Gail - Complete as of April 15th 2005.

All in all - a DAMN good year!

My plan for 2006 will follow in tomorrow's post.

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 go to the website:

Colin 2:50 pm | 2 comments |

Friday, January 06, 2006

This Blog

The format of this blog is to change.

Not in any major way and certainly not in any way which I think may block any existing enjoyment to be gained from the words written here. But I think the balance between what is deemed to be in the personal domain andwhat is in the writing domain is wrong. Things that are written, in any genre can often be mis-represented and mis-understood, particularly by those who wish to look the other way, or those who wish to meddle.

I also feel this blog can be used far better in the way of marketing and promoting both myself and my work. Blogging is fast becoming an important avenue for creativity and networking, so I think I should be utilising it better.

To this end I am proposing some small but important changes and statements of clarity.

1. This blog is not a personal diary. My initial intent was to write in it things about my life that directly affect and/or influence my writing. This position has now become untenable because some people are reading too much into some of what is said and using it against me. They are not simply reading, they are actively pursuing an aggressive stance. Any privileged information written on these pages before, will not now be published. The blog may get more boring, but this is not my problem. The people I am referring to will know who they are; they are not writers.

2. The above information will be displayed clearly on the blog.

3. I don't wish to redesign the blog - I like it the way it is - but I may use the sidebars more with which to promote my work as it unfolds. If people continue to use this blog and the information held in it to further their own insatiably corrupt agendas, I will start to bar IP addresses. Failing that - I'll remove the blog altogether and only release the new location to closely trusted individuals.

I don't wish to appear overhanded of my use of this blog as a public access domain, but I think the lines need to be clearly marked in the sand. I have seen friends of mine harrassed beyond belief through their blog, and I am not going to be held to ransom either.

Message ends.

GDR will be published tomorrow - I've had too much to do today.

Also, please buy my book - it's bloody brilliant.
Colin 10:15 pm | 6 comments |

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Catching Up

Firstly, I hope all my readers, old and new, had a wonderful Christmas (if that's your bag) and that 2006 is as prosperous as you hope it to be.

The last twelve days have been a roller-coaster ride through the Christmas and New Year celebration period. I shall attempt a brief run through the last few days before completing my GDR round-up for December and the year 2005. The reason it is only coming now is because I take my family away each Christmas for a holiday into the highlands of Scotland and so have no time to sit and write during this time. So although writing gets done, it is a great chance to recharge, look back and look forward to what has to happen next.

Christmas Eve was hectic; last minute shopping and tidying up to do plus I had offered to make a starter and dessert for my MIL's Christmas dinner to ease the burden. Freshly smoked Salmon slices rolled up with salmon pate, a slice of lemon and some parsley sprinkled on top. For dessert; pineapple cake. A syrup-biscuit base with a layer of butter-cream, pineapple then fresh cream on top and chocolate shavings to top it off.

After it was all done and Santa had paid his visit, we settled down in front of the TV to relax for a bit with a glass of wine. We probably shouldn't have stayed up until 2am because when the wee one rose at the back of seven o‘clock, it made for one long and tiring day.

We opened our presents together - our first Christmas as a family in our new home - and Laura was delighted with her haul. I was finally able to get my hands on the tropical fish tank Gail bought me - years of waiting to get my hands on it finally over! We went to MIL's for dinner later on and my salmon starter proved not to be in much demand by the unadventurous, but the pineapple cake, as always, went down a treat. MIL made a traditional turkey dinner and the whole lot was topped off by some large glasses of Glenfiddoch Malt Whisky.

Boxing Day was not a relaxing one. We had to tidy the house again after all the pressie opening and then get all our nags packed and prepared for visiting my parents the next day and then for our holiday the day after. I did my lot as soon as I could so when Gail went out to do some shopping in the Sales, I got started on my tank; washing out all the gravel, roots and rocks, cleaning the tank and finally filling it, attaching the heater, pump and lights and turning it on. It looks great but it will be next week at least before it is even near ready for fish to be installed.

The 27th saw the Galbraith's take to the motorway and head through to the west of Scotland. We arrived at my parents at around one o'clock joining my two sisters and Nolon who will be my BIL in around seven months. We sat down to exchange gifts when I suddenly remembered putting them down in the kitchen while I checked everything was locked up. I never picked the bag up on my way out - I had forgotten all the gifts!

Still, we had a great dinner and family bevy. We played games and just had a laugh, which was good. It's not often the entire family gets together like this so it's always good when it does come off. Next time will be Fiona and Nolon's wedding in July up in Perthshire.

Gail went shopping with my Mum and Laura the next day leaving me to sit around and talk shop with my dad. When they finally got back home time was ticking away from us and our journey north ended up being made in darkness and in some sheer patches of fog making it not altogether very pleasant. When we finally arrived we were greeted by Mike and Elaine and Craig with some food and drinks - the rest of the party not expected until the next day.

The snow fell heavily the next day (29th) and stayed with us throughout the next few days. There were around fifteen of us at any one time including two babies and three kids. We worked our way through a horrendous amount of food and drink, using the nearby hotel bar, swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, curling rink and snow-covered fields to full advantage.

Hogmanay saw a huge snow-ball fight ensue with just about everyone involved. We made huge snowmen and then drank whisky to heat ourselves up. For the Bells we all headed into Aberfoyle for a meal and dance at the Claddach Hotel owned by a friend of mine. We had to leave slightly earlier than the rest in the hotel to ensure we made it home with all the kids in time, but once they were down and sleeping the party raged on until the early hours. I remember it passing five am, but after that not much else.

New Years Day was quiet. I took the kids swimming and curling and then everyone gathered for a large steak-pie dinner, a huge game of Trivial Pursuit and of course, more drinking. All the snow outside had started to melt but each night the freezing temperatures froze everything to black ice and made it treacherous to move around.

It was our last night, though, and on the 2nd we packed up and headed home after a great few days in The Trossachs. It's always good to get together for everyone, always relaxing and always good to forget about life and just be happy among friends, do what you want to do and not have to worry.

The road home was much easier than the journey north and we made it back for around dinner time. I was hoping to have been able to start putting fish in my tank but a disaster had occurred when we got back. At some point after we left my water pump and aerator had slipped below the water surface. This meant the water was not getting re-oxygenated. Added to this the stain of the water from the lava rock and tree roots meant the tank water was tea-coloured and full of gunk.

I changed 50% of the water but over night it had made no difference. I had to start again from scratch, giving everything a good cleaning and sifting, which took most of my evening of the third. By this morning, it was running smoothly so hopefully in the next ten days I'll be able to start adding fish.

Gail went shopping in the morning. She returned in the afternoon with a new car. Well - it's been bought because our current motor is almost at its wits end and so it's is really acting as a money saver. It's a nice wee Ford Focus; a step up and onwards we go.

I returned to work today. Edinburgh is cold and quiet with most people still away on their breaks. By mid-afternoon it was freezing again and between two and three o'clock the entire city suddenly became enveloped in a dense, white fog. It was surreal how quickly it fell around us.

I have so much work to do now January is here it is quite unbelievable. I have lots to catch up on and lots to get on with so my return to snooker tonight is most unwelcome. I could really be doing with staying in and getting myself organised.

This moves me into my GDR, but I'll have to leave that until tomorrow. In the meantime, I forgot to mention some publication-related news while I was away:

* The Scruffy Dog Review was launched at the start of January - look out for my feature interview with Ian Rankin, my first column entitled Scotland's Treasure and my book review on Porno by Irvine Welsh. The whole magazine looks awesome and this year, I'm sure, will see this venture grow and grow.
* I submitted Hunting Jack to the Undiscovered Authors Competition
* One Story have been bought over and so returned my four poem submissions
* Big Ugly Fiction rejected Heart of a Child

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Colin 1:32 pm | 1 comments |