Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

February's GDR Review

I woke at 6am this morning in jet lag mode, wide awake and my head buzzing with energy. I have no idea where it came from or why, but I knew I wouldn't get back to sleep again. So, I got up and despite the presence of the Baltic winds, I found myself in work with a fresh cappuccino by half past seven.

Work was dull and boring. The day dragged thanks to my early start though I did, reluctantly, get a lot done. Lunchtime was the best part of the day. Club Sandwich (best coffee shop around) does an excellent array of soups at lunchtimes and has started to heavily bleed customers from the larger sandwich store next door, the chain that is Finnegans.

There choices range from everything from Red Thai Chicken to Spicy Bean and Moroccan Lamb to Flaming Steak plus all the usual suspects like tomato and basil. Today I had Green Thai Chicken Soup - wonderful.

While I eat my soup I started rounding up my GDR for the month, the results of which are at the end of this post. I also got through the following pieces of work:

I wrote, polished and published my weekly post at The Scruffy Dog Review Blog. Click here to read how I develop my fictional characters.

I wrote yesterday's entry for my own blog. Click here to read (though you already should have read it).

I did a couple of edits on Under the Skin that the editor I am working with at Wildchild Publishing asked me to look at before the piece is published later in March.

I finished writing and polishing a new article for Interactive Dad Magazine, Dads Are Kids Too and submitted it for publication.

Not bad for an hour's work!

This evening I was delighted to be asked by a fellow writer if I would be a beta reader for her novel WIP. This means I get the opportunity to read her book in advance and comment on it in a critical and constructive fashion. It also means when she's famous I can say I was one of the first to read it. YAY! Seriously though, it's a great thing to be asked by one of your peers and naturally I want to do my best job and give it my full attention. I can't wait to read it.

February's GDR Review

* Work on Stella - reread twice, edited up to where I was and another 2.5k written.
* Complete first redraft of Hunting Jack - complete. Extra 200 words added even after final KIC issue ditched.
* Change ending to Hunting Jack - last issue ditched. Stevie doesn't die therefore an open ending. Full manuscript formed for first time. Ideas forming for series of McCann novels.
* Keep on top of submissions list - complete. Triggered a load of rejections. Made list of 1st, 2nd, 3rd round of submissions to make for each short story and poems I want to sub. Lots more journals and magazines to consider now so need to tighten up process.

* Write poems if the moment takes - none written.

* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology - still pending.
* Write four weekly blog entries for TSDR - 4/4 complete (Welsh, Cookson, Ecstasy film, Character Dev.)
* Write and submit another step-dad article for Interactive Dad - complete (Dads Are Kids Too).

Marketing and Promotion
* Continue marketing and promotion of Fringe Fantastic (see s/sheet for details) - complete.
* Follow up FF review/interview requests - Still in progress.
* Keep website up to date - complete.

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild - really have to do this but still not done.
* Read from my 'waiting to be read' pile - Ian Rankin's The Black Book and an anthology of Poems on the Underground.
* Research The Cold War - want to get some books on this as well as web research. Not as urgent now since Stella took a different direction while writing.

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR - complete.

Things That Turned Up
* Wrote short story on train to Newcastle - Under the Skin.
* Asked to write and read a short reading at my sister's wedding in July.
* Applied for freelance job as broadcast scriptwriter.
* Bought and read Poems on the Underground anthology.

* Fringe Fantastic to be reviewed in Issue 25 of Scotland Magazine.
* Under the Skin accepted by Wildchild Publishing for March 2006 issue.

* Heart of a Child rejected by Fringe Magazine - 9/2/06
* Loaded rejected by Glimmertrain Press - 11/2/06
* What a Waste rejected by Glimmertrain Press - 12/2/06
* The Blind Man of Cathkin Street assumed rejection from The Edge Magazine - 15/2/06
* The Blind Man of Cathkin Street assumed rejection from The 13 Magazine - 15/2/06
* A Bond of Faith rejected by One Story - 15/2/06
* The Oasis rejected by Adirondack Review - 17/2/06
* The Oasis rejected by Wildchild - 17/2/06
* Daffodils rejected by Wildchild - 17/2/06
* Heart of a Child rejected by Summerset Review - 18/2/06
* The Oasis rejected by Glimmer Train - 19/2/06
* Daffodils rejected by Gorlan - 20/2/06
* Neglected TSDR column for March from GDR. Had to put together at short notice. Forgot I need to be a month ahead with the writing of it.

Fiction - 4500
Non-Fiction - 16900
Poetry - 0

Outstanding Submissions
Short Stories:
Whisky Snatching to Writing Magazine
A Bond of Faith to The Portable Muse

Dads Are Kids Too to Interactive Dad Magazine

I've bounced back. After a terrible month in January where practically nothing got done and my motivation was at its lowest ebb, I have managed to turn it all on its head during the shortest month of the year.

I have shifted my focus this year to fiction and this month saw me take huge strides towards maintaining that goal. I completed a full redraft of Hunting Jack including a restructuring of the final stages of the book and over 2500 words of Stella, which means it is about one third complete in the writing. I could have written more (should have) but I stalled with the story during this month. I re-read the manuscript to where it was up to several times, before I realised the story was moving in the wrong direction.

I also wrote a short story, Under the Skin and within three weeks saw it accepted for publication in Wildchild Publishing, a literary journal I have long been trying to get into.

Alongside my fiction successes I kept up to date with my Scruffy Dog commitments and other non-fiction article ideas I want to keep moving with.

The failures column is overflowing you may notice. I chased up a lot of the submissions that were starting to get dated and started adding to my submissions list as part of a larger re-org and streamlining of where I send my work to. This triggered a lot of rejections but it also got editors responding to my emails in a less formal manner. In a lot of the cases I got personal emails back in response to my follow-up rather than standard rejection letters. I will make sure they don't forget my name and thus, it proves that every cloud has a silver lining.

So to summarise, it's been a good month but there's plenty of room to do more. Lots of creativity, lots of fiction and an acceptance in a highly respected journal. Can't say fairer than that.

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Colin 12:30 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, February 27, 2006

Tales Of Celebration

The snow never came but the temperature felt like it was on the cards the entire day. The Arctic wind blowing in direct from Siberia made it extremely cold and finding a working nerve on my face by the time I got to work was a wasted effort.

The celebrations over Scotland's famous win on Saturday are continuing in all the daily newspapers (except maybe The Times, Independent etc.) and there are more than just a few smiling faces in the office for once. I had to pinch myself - it is a Monday today, after all.

All the stories were relived about everyone's night to celebrate the win. They all included copious amounts of alcohol and everyone over the age of 18 in Scotland seemed to have spent Sunday recovering with a hangover. Sales of Irn-Bru must have peaked to an all-time high yesterday!

It's still sinking in what a glorious and momentous achievement Saturday was. The atmosphere in Sportsters Bar was amazing and the whole occasion will live long in the memory.

As for work, no comment.

I enjoyed a lovely dinner in the evening though. Fresh cannelloni on a Monday evening - bliss.

I spent the rest of the evening working on my Scotland's Treasure column for issue 2 of The Scruffy Dog Review due out at the start of March.

Before I go, I have a good friend who is going through a terrible time at the moment. She knows who she is and I just want to say there are a lot of people thinking about you and praying for you. It will end and you know where I am should you need anyone to dump your pain on.

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 8:50 am | 1 comments |

Sunday, February 26, 2006

It Will Be A Day Long Remembered

Yesterday was a day to remember.

As soon as the final whistle blew in Murrayfield Stadium to end the Calcutta Cup match between England and Scotland, the city of Edinburgh exploded into celebration.

It was a sight to behold as the streets literally jumped with thousands of revellers, dancing, singing and drinking long into the night. And I was one of them.

They day started at 3 o'clock when I arrived in Sportster's Bar in Market Street. The place was already very busy with Scotland and England supporters mingling and watching the France versus Italy match. Various tartan outfits and kilts outnumbered the white shirts and red roses of England.

I got a pint Guinness and while I waited for Zander to show up, bumped into an old pal; Paul Anderson and his soon-to-be-father-in-law. They were going to the game and we had a few pints before they left for Murrayfield. Some of Zander's pals joined us as well forming a neat little group next to the bar.

At 5.30pm the game kicked off, and by this time the pub was packed full. There was little room to move except to guide my glass to my mouth. The game ebbed and flowed both ways. We took the lead with a penalty and England equalled the score to 3-3 before half-time. In the second half England took the lead with another penalty before Scotland returned the favour minutes later to make it 6-6.

Then we took the game by the scruff of the neck. Scotland scored another penalty and then a drop-goal to take us to 12-6 amongst some superb defending against the English attack. England retaliated taking it to 12-9 and then Scotland almost scored a try, which would have been amazing but it wasn't to be. England took it back to 12-12 and Scotland, with the time ticking on and England always within distance of winning the match with a single try, scored again. Two more penalty kicks from Scotland and the 80 minutes were up.

When the ball was kicked out and the whistle blew the bar burst into celebration. A wave of relief after such a tense and exciting match, washed over everyone and many a tear was shed. It was one of those games you never once dared to believe it could actually happen, then when it did, you couldn't quite believe you had!

The celebrations in the city went long into the night. Long, long, long into the night. The Proclaimers and other Scottish "ballads" were trouped out once more time, but nobody seemed to mind this time. I remember there not being many English people out in the bars by the end of it, but then, they strangely disappeared as soon as the whistle went. Come on you English - surely you can be good losers for once?

So not only did Scotland beat England 18 - 12 to win the Calcutta Cup, but it also means that we are in contention to turn out a good overall performance in the Six Nations Championship. Beating them also means we have prevented them from winning the Grand Slam AND the Triple Crown.

Quote of the day has to be: "This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Kenobi, and will soon see the end of the rebellion." (D. Vader)

There was only one other thing more important than the rugby on Saturday, but unfortunately it wasn't worth celebrating. St. Mirren were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by lowly Gretna.

As for today? Forget about it!

I had the hangover from hell but I wasn't caring. Nor were all my pals who were in a similar situation and who texted me as one by one as they rose from their drunken slumbers.

To finish up, here is an Ode to English Rugby, by Steven Groat.

Ye cam up here to paradise, tae beat us at your game,
Aw wind and piss and full o' shit, yer aw the bloody same,
Ye ca yersels the champions, the nations most elite,
Scotland are the champions, yuv just been fuckin' beat.

A game that wis invented, fur English gentlemen,
No highland Jocks wi tartan frocks, well bliddy think again,
A ba that's shapit like a egg, its just a stupid farse,
A suppose it makes it easier, tae ram right up your arse.

So git back hame an lick yer wounds, yie a bunch o stupid fools,
It's time fur you tae cheat again, change the fuckin' rules,
Rugby, fitba, cricket tae, yur just a shower o chancers,
Stick tae whit ye dae best, you morris fuckiin' dancers!!

(All images courtesy and full copyright respect to the RBS and The Scotsman)

ORDER a copy of my latest book, FRINGE FANTASTIC!
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Colin 1:59 pm | 1 comments |

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Victory Is Ours!

Scotland 18 - 12 England. It's going to be a long night!
Colin 7:53 pm | 1 comments |

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Relaxing Friday

Two hours into the working day and I got an email from Dave requesting attendance at the usual spot for the usual mid-day quaff. Naturally, I obliged and was reminded that today is in fact Dave's birthday. This being a fact, also meant today is his wedding anniversary. Good move by Mrs Dave, since it is a day he will never be able to forget.

Several pints were consumed before heading back to the office where much merriment ensued. Friday's do tend to have a lightened, almost amphetamine-like effect on the inhabitants of the office. Everyone knows freedom is but hours away and it lifts everyone, however temporarily, out of the gloom.

After work I went back to Clark's for another pint with Julz and Tom. Julz left after one and shortly after me and Tom taxied the extreme distance from the bottom end of Dundas Street to the top end of Dundas Street. A pub called The Prive Council was our destination and a room full of Royal Bank of Scotland workers, were there to meet us.

It was a work's night out for no particular occasion that I could fathom, but I think the only reason they were there was the £1.50 till 11pm drink offer on everything at the bar. Not bad, and we probably didn't do it justice. It's not going to go down as my favourite watering hole in Edinburgh; too many wankers that think they are top-of-the-tree and want the world to know how great they are. The music wasn't bad though, as the DJ (yes, a DJ in a bar) played some mowtown and jazz tracks.

I left around half past eight and headed home. The rugby tomorrow was in the back of my mind and going out to watch Scotland play England with a hangover, is never a good idea. So I got home early and had some dinner, then chilled in front of the TV before bed. For tomorrow, it is the clash of The Auld Enemy.

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 11:13 am | 2 comments |

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Short Story Acceptance!

Woke up feeling pretty good about things today. I checked my email, as I always do before work, and there was one from the fiction editor at Wildchild Publishing. They have accepted my short story, Under the Skin, for their March 2006 issue.

What a great start to the day! I was delighted. After hundreds of rejections since my last published short story back in May 2004, it feels brilliant to have written something that is suitable for acceptance again. I've been rejected many times by Wildchild (once accepted and then pulled) so it feels good as far as that specific publication is concerned.

But from a wider view, it has been 21 months since my last short story publication. That's a long time. I knew I had to change that terrible statistic this year and built it into my GDR.

I have also made a concerted effort to alter how I write my stories. My method may seem to be working, but it may also be a coincidence. I've started concentrating on:

Mood - does the mood accurately reflect what I want to move the reader to feel?
Structure - is there a good opening hook, strong prose (descriptive and dialogue that constantly moves the story along), a clear goal, aim or desire and is there a suitable ending (with or without a twist)?
Characters - is it clear what the characters want and feel and are they "human"?

We could be heading for a winter-weekend, with snow forecast for the latter parts of the week and into next Monday. Hopefully Saturday will be a fine day for sport as Scotland face England at Murrayfield in Round 3 of the Six Nations Championship. This fixture also has a parallel competition running, as the two historically competitive nations battle it out for the Calcutta Cup. Scotland have only won it three times in the last twenty-two years; 1984, 1990 and 1999, so it's about time a revolution came.

I wrote 2500 words on Stella, but I achieved much more. I read over the story again before I began writing, and each time I do I always pick up something new about the characters. They always seem so distant when I am not involved in the actual writing of the story, but then when I sit down to write they come back to life - larger than life.

When I was writing Hunting Jack, Jackie McCann was always with me. I practically lived with him, waking up every day to have him in my head and always having something about the story on my mind. It's not been like that with Stella, it's been more - relaxed.

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 11:23 am | 5 comments |

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Rat Race Bites

I fucking hate this place!

Today we were treated like goddamn infants, I kid you not. We (10 adult, professional employees) were told in no uncertain terms, that we had all to spend the next hour thinking about our contribution, writing it down and sending the results to our manager.

Excuse me? Do we get to play a game of Hands Down Thumbs Up when we're finished? And how long is it until playtime 'cos I weally need to go, miss!

I was raging. I told the boss in my own terms how patronising I found the whole thing and that I thought it was totally childish. If this is the sort of shite that is meant to motivate an already fucked up workforce, it's no wonder this company is sliding down the tubes to the land of no respect or decency OR profit. 'Put the staff first' used to be this company's ethos, and once upon a time it did work. Put your fucking ego first, you mean, and to hell with the rest. Is it any wonder not one person in my department respects any of the management and hates the work we are being handed?

Morale has never been at a lower ebb.

There is no greater motivation in the world than a bunch of egotistical, patronising, self-obsessed company full of managers who shit on the staff any chance they get. It's them that will ultimately prove the driving force to get me out of here and into a life of successful writing. Not even the world's worst bout of writer's block can stop me against that.



What to talk about.

Oh yeah - it pished with rain half the day and the other half it was freezing. This made it very awkward for the smokers outside our building as their fags either hung like damp squibs from between their lips or were blown to the Dunbar on the strong north-easterly wind.

I took my frustration at the days events in the snooker hall. Four pints of Guinness and a trouncing victory over my FIL (8-1 to me) didn't make me feel any better about having to come back in to work the next day, but it did make it seem a long way off.

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Colin 10:51 am | 1 comments |

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Day work lately has dragged like a large sack of freshly picked potatoes being pulled up Arthur's Seat by a school kid. It went on and on and on and there was nothing I could do about it except struggle against the slope of never ending misery.

It is so depressing I couldn't even muster up a blog entry for yesterday, such is the despair surrounding this hole.

I've had a dozen rejections in the last twenty days. Not bad going but I got my hands on a couple of lists loaded with journals and magazines where I can submit my work to. I did a re-org on my submissions spreadsheet, dividing them into separate fiction and poetry sections then dividing up the publications into 1st round, 2nd round etc.

The spreadsheet is much easier to read now and see where what story is where. As it should be.

My weekly blog for The Scruffy Dog review is available by clicking here.

And I drank too much coffee today.

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Colin 3:55 pm | 0 comments |

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Upgrading The PC

Imagine what it would be like to click on the "Random Blog" button on the front of and it's your site that comes up. Can you imagine how that would make you feel? I did. I imagined it happening and to be honest it wasn't as good as I had hoped. So I never hope it does happen for real because it just isn't worth the anti-climax.

Today is Sunday. The seventh day of the week. The Sabbath; the Twilight; the End. Tomorrow it all begins again in earnest and I can't say I'm looking forward to it very much. Nothing will have changed from last week; the same dull, uninspiring building full of sheep and pussy cats; the same people on the buses; the same view from the window; the same feeling at the end of it all at 5pm.

The only thing keeping me going is my family and my writing.

One day. One day.

I read more of my new book, Poems on the Underground late last night. It's an excellent read. It contains some work by Robert Louis Stevenson and Spike Milligan I hadn't uncovered until now. There was also a lovely poem by Liz Lochead, one of those poems you wonder why it has never been written before, the idea is so simple. Bit it isn't simple when you examine it, it is complicated and stabbing, which is why I like it. It made me realise I have so far to go with poetry and that made me feel good - because it means I'm still learning, willing to keep working and my mind is still open to it all.

That last paragraph is a total inflection on the opening paragraphs of this entry. Poetic justice, non?

I upgraded my PC this afternoon with the memory cards from my Dad's old PC. Not knowing if they would be compatible I shoved them in and lo-and-behold I went from a pre-historic 64Mb-RAM machine to one of 256Mb-RAM. The machine works so much faster now and also fits the specification for Windows XP to be installed.

So, in a frenzy of XP excitement, I got out the discs my Brother-in-Law-to-be gave me, but because they were stuck together they were useless. They had been packaged back-to-back and when I prised them apart the disc backing came off rendering them useless. No XP today, which also means no broadband. I was a bit annoyed at having gotten so far but not as annoyed as BIL was when I told him about the discs. Hopefully I can repair/replace them when I get another copy of XP.

I had an idea for next week's TSDR blog entry so I wrote out the skeleton of it while it was fresh in my head. It's my first entry concerning the process of writing, but of course, I've given it a slant.

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Colin 3:18 pm | 1 comments |

Saturday, February 18, 2006

New Music And Poems

An early start into Edinburgh via the Dance School and I found myself in the city by quarter past ten. I decided on a change of routine and headed for HMV to peruse some CD's that I have been toying with purchasing. I browsed for almost an hour and came away with The Ordinary Boys latest album, Brassbound, The Dead 60's (album of same name) and Yello's, You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess.

The latter album is part of me turning never ending programme of turning vinyl into CD, but The Dead 60's is an album I've wanted for a while after seeing their performance at last years Glastonbury Festival. The Ordinary Boys harks back to me discovering just last week that they are in fact NOT a boy band. They are a ska/mod band with their roots firmly planted in the old Madness/Specials hall of music.

I popped into Waterstones and picked up a copy of Poems on the Underground, an anthology based on the 'poem posters' that first appeared in the London Tube and underground trains in 1986. The idea spread world-wide and the poems will be a superb influence to me as I read through some of them during my morning cappuccino in my usual coffee shop off St. Andrews Square.

I had planned on picking up my latest batch of Fringe Fantastic books from the post office depot but the queue was half way along the road. I went into the Aquatic Rooms on Leith Walk instead and bought some badly needed plants for my fish tank.

The rest of the afternoon was slow and lazy, spending time with Laura and Gail and just enjoying not having to do much on a Saturday. I made some chicken soup from a spare carcass I found in the fridge and had some for my dinner before ploughing into some emails and writing.

Lowlights of the emails: Heart of a Child was rejected by the Summerset Review and The Oasis finally given the heave-ho by Wildchild. *sigh* I've certainly racked them up this month!

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Colin 3:16 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, February 17, 2006

He Who Hoots With The Owls ~

~ can't soar with the eagles.

My Dad first introduced me to that saying. This morning it applied most aptly, but before my Old Man gets ahead of himself and thinks he is wiser than the old bloke from Karate Kid, let me tell you that in his day he was truly the master at making hangovers. I mean - where on earth do you think I get it from?

I woke at 07:00 when my alarm went off, but couldn't pull my aching body out of bed until 09:50. I was late getting to work; I still don't know how I got there because of how awful I felt.

Banging head, sore eyelids, aching muscles and a dry tongue, all symptoms of a bad hangover and all damn good reasons why mid-week drinking is never a good idea.

375 coffees later and I started to feel human again but wished, oh so badly, to be able to fast-forward the day so I could return to my cosy slumber and feel the cool sheets welcome me home as I settle in for the night.

I heard back from some of my chased submissions. Adirondack Review did reject The Oasis but the email never came through to me for which they apologised.

Wildchild Publishing also got back to me with some interesting news. They rejected both Daffodils and The Oasis but said they really liked my writing and did I have something "less grim."

I think I'll send them Under the Skin. It has a happy ending, a nice twist and makes you think. One of the editors thought I was talking about Heart of a Child, which I submitted last January and ended up pulling because I felt it was being dismantled too much. For them to remember the story struck me as being a little bit of a compliment. Even in rejection, The editors at Wildchild are excellent to deal with.

I'm still waiting to hear from The Portable Muse.

I spent the evening with my daughter. We had some freshly cooked chicken for dinner and then watched some old home movies - ones we have made together in the past ourselves and ones of me when I was her age. My Dad has recently taken up transferring all these old movies from the late 70's and 80's to DVD and it's been years since I saw them.

It was the first time she had seen me as a child. It is also the first, and only time, she will see both my Grans and my Papa from my Dad's side. We screamed with laughter as we watched the antics on display and I had a tear in my eye to think how long it has been since I thought about these people, now departed. It's been too long since we visited their respective graveyards. A visit must soon be on the cards.

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Colin 3:15 pm | 2 comments |

Thursday, February 16, 2006

An Unexpected Night Out

A day of expectation, un-expectation, coffee and rolls & sausage.

I was quite tired from the previous night; staying up to watch one of my Frasier DVDs did nothing to help my sleep patterns, but who could resist? So I went to work knackered and left early to meet Gail. We sat for a while and had coffee and hot-filled rolls in The Elephant House cafe. Before leaving, I plastered their notice board with fliers for Fringe Fantastic.

Ifound myself having to work round the house for part of the day; washing windows, dusting and all that crap. I hate it but I had a wee night out with a couple of my mates to take my mind off it. IT was only meant to be a couple of opportunistic pints, but as sometimes happens, it didn't turn out that way.

I met up with Craig in The World's End and had a pint. We then moved to The Mitre, Finnegan's Wake and The Last Drop for more drinks before meeting up with Paul who is through in Gullane for the week on a Fire Service training course. Many drinks were had before the firemen trooped off leaving me and Craig propping up the bar as usual. We moved onto another couple of Grassmarket bars and then finished the night in Jackson's - possibly the smokiest bar in Edinburgh I've ever witnessed. I bet the owner (Mr. Jackson?) can't wait for the smoking ban to come into force next month.

I got home around 2am and became immediately became very concerned that I had to get up for work in 5 hours. I knew this might pose a problem, for I was very pished and ever so slightly cheery.

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Colin 3:07 pm | 0 comments |

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Busy As A Bee

Nice and bright over Leith Links this morning, and with a fresh breeze blowing in from the nearby North Sea, it made for not an altogether unpleasant morning for making my merry way to work. As soon as I got there I changed from merry to sad. Such is the way in here.

I caught up with my submissions log and chased a few publications up such as Wild Child, The Portable Muse and Adirondack Review. Unfortunately it also highlighted a few rejections I must also assume have been "received", such as The Blind Man of Cathkin Street by The Edge Magazine and 13 Magazine and A Bond of Faith rejected by One Story.

Wrote up next weeks TSDR blog entry so I can forget about it now until publication day. I should get ahead with this more often; I always seem to get caught out with the deadline.

I received an email from a friend about a freelance writing job that is extremely appealing. I put together an application package and sent it off from my home email address.

Finished drafting Under the Skin - I think that's it. I've thought about the components a short story requires and I'm sure I've got the meaning over. I like it - time to send it out, I think. Must be my fastest turnaround on a short story but this one just flowed so easily.

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 12:20 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

One Bunch Of Flowers And You're Laid

Happy Valentine's Day (if that's your bag).

I don't agree with Valentine's Day. Not because I'm not a romantic - that's one department I don't fail as a hubbie, know what I mean? I just don't see how because one buys their partner a bunch of over-priced flowers on February 14th, it makes them romantic?

Not to parp my own trumpet, but I don't need an excuse to buy my wife flowers, which is why I don't do it on this "day of love". I buy my wife flowers on July 8th, May 5th or February 25th - any other day of the year in fact, because that's what makes it truly romantic; the surprise element. The fact it is out of the blue is what makes these gestures special, not because February 14th is when the corporate card and flower-sellers say that's the only day of the year you have available to prove you are truly loving towards your wife. Bollocks to that. Romance takes imagination, it takes balls (well, maybe later at night) and it takes a heart that really does love the one they are targeting.

Enough of this soppy shite. Have you got the new Arctic Monkeys album, Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not? It is absolutely fantastic. It's a record of totally original music, which is novel these days to say the least. The melodies are engrossing, each song a beauty in it's own right. The lyrics are very special, almost poetry from the street, and the artwork is truly inspired; a man smoking a cigarette in the face of the camera was always going to go down well the same month the Government are voting for a ban on smoking in England and Wales. Even the CD cover is an ashtray full of fag ends (not a homophobic reference for any American readers). It's a class act. Best album I've heard for a long, long time. Buy it!!

My TSDR Blog entry is up and is about the Top 10 Most Borrowed Books in the UK. It's a surprising list this year.

I started the third redraft of Hunting Jack. This previous run-through's were concerned with grammar, punctuation and general structure tightness. Now I am getting deep into analysing the psyche of the characters, in particular Jackie McCann. His feelings don't come across strong enough for me and I don't think the reader is given enough to get them emotionally attached to him.

I also want to add a whole new scene where Jackie goes to the library and makes a discovery about his family's background and its connection to the Glasgow Ice-Cream Wars. It won't change the overall plot but it will have to be tightly written in.

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Colin 11:52 am | 1 comments |

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tig! You're It

And so Monday is here again. Oh, how the time flies when feel like a dog having to sit in the same office day by day, doing the same old things, drinking the same crappy drinks, watching the management crawl up each others arses and listening to the same old corporate speels.

On a lighter note, I redrafted Under the Skin, which added yet another 200 words onto it. It's now at 1600 and forming into a nice story. There's still something missing - can't put my finger on it - I'll let it sit and go back to it on paper.

I did a lot of catching up on email and I read through a friend's submission for a speech and offered up some ideas. I wrote tomorrow's TSDR blog entry, worked on some plots ideas for Stella and read through some submissions for The Scruffy Dog Review. Things are moving again and I feel happy with what I'm doing. There's still much to catch up on - but I'm enjoying the challenge again.

Instead of a cartoon today, I'm taking part in this Top 4 game list thing. It's like a game of Tig except it's in cyberspace and there's no punching people's arms when you get tagged because you can't run fast enough. Anyway, Michelle Miles tagged me so here goes:

Four jobs I've had
1. Pushing trolley's in Safeway car-park, Johnstone. First day I was there someone got slashed in the face. Nice.
2. Working the dairy and meat for Bobby Mackerel. Very nice man.
3. Door-sign maker for Scottish Homes. (Their HQ in Glasgow burnt down while I was working there. Strange that.)
4. Gardener. Lots of midgie bites and scratches for a pittance. I never lasted long in that business.

Four movies I could watch over and over
1. Hi-Fidelity - this film changed my life
2. Star Wars (A New Hope)
3. Take it or Leave It (Madness biography)
4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Four places I have lived
1. Bridge of Weir - small village on the outskirts of Glasgow.
2. Paisley - west coast town with lots of drugs and knife crime. The Paisley Pattern came from here. Ecstasy tablets come in this shape to celebrate this fact.
3. Shawlands, Glasgow (twice) - boy, did I live the life here. My best bachelor days all happened in the south side.
4. Leith, Edinburgh (twice) - I married a Leither. 'nuff said.

Four TV shows I watch
1. Frasier
2. The Simpsons
3. Only Fools and Horses
4. Spooks

Four places I've vacationed
1. Ayia Napa, Cyprus - burds 'n' booze
2. Sorrento, Italy - beautiful people, beautiful food, beautiful location
3. Ochos Rios, Jamaica - the roots of where my love of music derives
4. Kissimee/Disneyland, Florida - I saw Goofy while I had a hangover

Four of my favorite dishes
1. Lamb Dupiaza with pilau rice and naan bread - simply the best
2. Canneloni (with the traditional filling) - only if made correctly
3. Black Pudding supper and a can of Irn-Bru - Scotland's finest
4. Italian based hawaiian pizza from pizza hut - I really shouldn't, but who can resist

Four sites I visit daily
1. Ink In My Coffee
2. Pure Grace
3. Ye Olde Inkwell
4. Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom

Four places I would rather be
1. In Clark's
2. In Glasgow
3. In my wife
4. In absentia

I'm tagging Devon Ellington, Sarah Swanson, Bobby Mackerel and Debra Young.

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Colin 12:05 pm | 2 comments |

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Book Review Confirmed

A nice long lie then some breakfast of eggs, toast and coffee. I did some tidying round the house, but all that stopped at 3pm while I watched the Wales v Scotland match in the Six Nations Championship.

Scotland were beaten 28-18 but put on a good display despite having a man sent off after 20 minutes. That pretty much screwed us for the rest of the game but at least we weren't embarrassed like we were by the Welsh last year.

Watched quite a lot of the Winter Olympics today; the 'sitting on a tea-tray event while sliding down a mountain' looks awesome fun!

A couple of rejection emails came in yesterday. Loaded and What a Waste were both rejected by Glimmertrain Press. I fully expect The Oasis, which was submitted on the same day, also to be rejected shortly.

I forgot to mention yesterday that I received the free copy of Fringe Fantastic back from Scotland Magazine. They have reviewed the book and confirmed in an accompanying note it will be published in issue 25 of the magazine. I think that comes out about March/April time. Needless to say, this is invaluable advertising and I'll be getting a copy as soon as it is out.

Fingers crossed it's a good review!

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Colin 11:08 am | 0 comments |

Saturday, February 11, 2006

But Saturday's Are Even Better!

I went mucking around Edinburgh this morning; bookshops, the coffee shop, the aquarium shop - all good stuff and gave me some time to think and relax.

And my day got even more relaxing. For the first time in a serious amount of months, Gail and I had the house to ourselves for a whole day. With Laura out at her Gran's all day and then staying overnight, we totally chilled out and had a great day.

Then later, we got a train through to Glasgow to have dinner with my parents, two sisters and my future brother-in-law.

At one point in the meal, Nolon (future BIL) said he had a question to ask me. It was very serious and his tone caught me off guard. He asked if I would do a reading at my sister and his wedding. But it's not a "reading" as such; it's more of a speech for during the non-religious ceremony.

I was most flattered and taken aback. The wedding preparations are almost complete and so to be asked at this stage was quite a surprise. I had been looking forward to a day of drink and merriment - now I have an awesome responsibility on my shoulders, but one which I shall relish and hopefully, do both Nolon and Fiona proud. I was (and still am) totally honoured and celebrated with a nice glass of Port.

The meal itself was exquisite. Corinthians Restaurant is fast becoming one of Glasgow's best known restaurants and with the standard of food and service you get, it's easy to see why. There was time for a quick whisky in the station bar before we headed back to Edinburgh on the last train (not for the faint-hearted).

But what a day - relaxay-vous with my wife all afternoon and out for a superb meal and drinks at night. It's been a long, long time since we had a day like today.

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Colin 11:51 am | 0 comments |

Friday, February 10, 2006

I Love Friday's

A bright but chilly morning over the city of Edinburgh this morning; perfect weather for drinking coffee in the open and letting the fresh air work its way into the deepest recess of your lungs.

What with the emergency in the fish tank last night I never got any writing done, but I did get some editing done later in the evening. I have a whole bunch of emails to respond to, which I started working my way through last night. I'm finding it more and more annoying all the spam I get because I fear I'm going to start losing genuine mails in amongst it. It wasn't such an issue before, but now that I am selling books I needs to get emails in and actioned as soon as possible - not when the customer writes back to say what happened to their query. It's not happened yet - it's just a worry that it might.

I feel like I really need a Madness gig to revitalise me. Going to see them play is such a life-affirming experience. It proves that unity amongst all the classes, religions and races can be achieved without prejudice or assumptions. At one of their gigs, Madness ARE the Gods and Ska IS the religion. Skinheads united and at one with the world; what more is their to life?

There are the annual rumours, of course, of a final Madstock festival in London, but we hear these every year. What is more likely is a Christmas Tour, that Suggs has mentioned several times. We wait with baited breath.

I found myself very busy at work; a combination of people being away to Wales for this weekends Six Nations Rugby match against Wales and a major incident with one of the systems we look after. I thought I may have to miss any form of lunchtime drinking but I managed to squeeze in a 40-minute pint with Dave in Clark's before heading back. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's time management!

I managed to squeeze in another few pints with Tom before I headed home for the evening. Gail was spending the night with a friend in Fife so I had the bed to myself. Bliss.

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Colin 10:56 am | 0 comments |

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Lacking In Energy


Quite tired today but the fact it is Thursday has kept me quite perky. An early morning meeting didn't help matters and meant I had to leave the house in a rush with no coffee in my blood, but I soon made up for that later on.

There was an incident before I left the house though - one of my Cardinal Tetras turned up dead, floating in the fish tank. Very sad. Very flushing sad. You can read more on this distressing episode on my other blog, Colly's Fishes, if you are so inclined.

I received my tenth rejection for Heart of a Child, this time from Fringe Magazine. I'm beginning to think I'm never going to get this one placed. It's one of those stories that no matter how many times I read over it after each rejection, I still cannot see anything worth changing. Some pieces you change each time for the better, bit this - well, it's the perfect story. It's just a bit sad and probably a bit too parochial for some editors, which is why I'm sure it keeps getting booted out. I wish I'd gone with Wildchild - but then the story would have changed, so maybe not.

I received some feedback via email about my book, which made me feel fantastic. I need to boost the promotional campaign; it needs an injection of energy to move it on a bit. I'm going to contact all the places who requested a copy and follow them up. More fliers of course (I do that everywhere I go) and I should probably do another round of targeted press releases sometime, too.

One thing that is pressing is I must contact the Fringe Festival organisers. I want to make sure my plans are acceptable and see if there is anything they can do to help. I'll be on holiday during the first week of this years festival, (couldn't be helped; School holidays and my sister's wedding in July forced the issue), so I have three weeks within which I have to sell copies of my book and market it, and my name, beyond belief.

God, it can sound so intimidating at times.

This cartoon is nothing to do with the fact it is my mother's birthday today. It is pure coincidence I have chosen an image of an old woman for today's chuckle. I only realised after I had chosen it. Honest.

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Colin 10:53 am | 2 comments |

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Here's Tae Guinness!

Today, I had my first ever proper pint of Guinness.

Many years ago at the start of my drinking career I was handed a can of Guinness on the Saturday night bus into Glasgow city centre. I took a swally and found it not to be of my taste. Later that night, after a particularly heavy session at a now defunct Joe Paparazzi's nightclub, I was sick. Black vomit ensued, and I blamed the end to my otherwise triumphant night out on the Guinness I drank at the start of it.

Over the years I passed through enjoying many different drinks at different times. For a while Lager was my only tipple. Then I moved to 'Heavy' and a fondness for 70 shilling. Later, I would become a fan of Tartan Special and Skol. Eventually I discovered a hankering for vodka in its various forms; long, fresh orange, straight, and in my later years whisky was about all I would touch. I even drank Bailey's regularly at one point and Hooch when it was available. Never once did I return to Guinness.

That was until last night. For a while now I have been becoming, not disenchanted, but looking for something else to drink other than my regular lager. Real Ale and 'Heavy' I had done before, so I wanted something new. Something different. Something refreshing. Something satisfying.

When asked in the past if I wanted a Guinness, I would always reply, "Can't stomach it. But I wish I could."

Not so this evening. I ordered my first fully-fledged pint of Guinness and threw all my old prejudices to the wind. And I'm glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed every drop of it (and the following three pints that quickly followed on).

Here's tae Guinness!

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Colin 1:27 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Piss Poor

All the men's urinals are blocked and the coffee machines are knackered. Such is the total incompetence of the department in charge of these issues, we have to wait a ridiculous amount of time for them to get fixed and up to "standard". At least 24 hours passes before anything is done about it.

If you are dehydrating, tough luck. Stand outside when it rains with your head back and your mouth open.

If you are bursting to go, tough luck. Find a jubilee clip and hope it can stem the flow.

This place is like a prison. They'll be asking us to slop out next!

I couldn't think of anything new to write for my Scruffy Dog Review Blog post, despite scanning all the papers and relevant online journals for inspiration. So I posted a pre-written article on Irvine Welsh; his career so far.

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Colin 12:47 pm | 2 comments |

Monday, February 06, 2006

That Monday Feeling

I'm feeling the delayed effects of my weekend in South Shields. I'm feeling somewhat unsettled but it's only caused by the fact I had to get up to go to work instead of what I wanted to do - lie in bed all day.

I'm tired, but happy with the story I wrote long-hand on the train south. I only really ever write poetry, ideas or notes using my pen and paper, so it was really good to get a full story down.

My entry is up on the PSH 2006 Poetry Exchange Website (scroll down till you see it). I'm looking forward to seeing who I get teamed with in March. We'll swap our poetry chapbooks and the beauty is, you never know what you're going to get. But that's what is so good about poetry - it can open up so many worlds if you just open your eyes.

I couldn't sleep, so ended up scribbling into my notebook and listening to the darkness fold around me for a couple of hours.

I'm going to post a few cartoons over the next few days at the end of each post. Nothing religious, though I suspect I'll be driven to comment on that sooner or later.

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Colin 12:16 pm | 1 comments |

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Coming Home

The journey back from South Shields was not as productive as Friday's going in the other direction. I found myself nodding off some of the way and avoiding the drunks for the rest. Well I did manage to come up with a title for the story I wrote on Friday; Under the Skin.

A group of guys were off to see Scotland play France at Murrayfield in the first match of this year Six Nations Championship. The train was running very late and they had to resign themselves to their on-board carry-out instead of actually getting to the game.

We got to Edinburgh around 50 minutes later than planned and I headed straight home. The house was in uproar from all the work going on. Amazingly, I was suffering no signs of a hangover today other than bouts of tiredness so I got stuck in. Well - after I watched Scotland beat France 20-16; the first time it's been done in a decade. I can only imagine the celebrations that went on in Edinburgh tonight after the game.

Could this be the return of Scotland back to some assemblance of form?

By later in the evening it was food time. I hadn't eaten since early morning and Gail hadn't had much either. A swift call to the local Chinese restaurant was made, and half an hour some Chinese noodle soup and chicken fried rice was duly delivered.

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Colin 2:09 pm | 0 comments |

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Drink (hic!)

Today was about catching up with old friends. The sort of people you can go for years without seeing, but then nothing changes when you get together. People you can trust with your life; people who realise the value of loyalty and the benefits of sticking together. Brother in arms.

To celebrate these friendships, formed back in the dark ages of the early 1990's, we went on a pub crawl. A feckin' big one. South Shields was mostly likely benefiting from a beautiful sunny (but cold) day, though we never saw any of it.

Beer, vodka and more vodka were the order of the day and night. Need I say any more?

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Colin 12:26 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Flow Of Inspiration

Fog was thick and widespread this morning, when I looked out the bedroom window. Cold air trapped by warm creating a stillness of misterious mist. Very atmospheric. Despite the usual chaos getting everyone ready in the morning, I had a stroke of luck when I left to get the bus to work. One of my neighbours is a taxi driver and was just starting his shift. He offered me a lift for free and took me to the front door of my work. Maybe these east-coasters ain't so bad, after all.

The day dragged. I was so looking forward to getting on the train and just travelling for a wee while that I couldn't take my mind off it. The train journey is actually an excellent journey if to take the time to look out the window. Much of it runs along the coast with the North Sea, and when you get to Berwick-upon-Tweed the train passes over a wonderful bridge. Eventually the train will leave the countryside and rolls into the capital of the English North; Newcastle. Industry and populace take over from rolling green, and you know it will soon be time to disembark.

During the journey I had the inspiration for a story and started writing. I just let it flow, seeing where it would take me and writing the words long-hand into my notebook. It came out at about 1200 words but there's a lot I can do with it to give it more oomph before I edit. I quite like it. Not the usual kind of thing I normally write about but I enjoyed it. The charactrers were like old friends; it all slotted into place.

And there was me saying no more short stories until I get the novels moving!

Craig met me at the station and we whisked our merry way further east to South Shields; a small town sitting at the opening of the River Tyne and looking right out to the North Sea.

We had a couple of beers in the flat and then headed out to the various coastal bars around the town. We had a lot of catching up to do; one minute it was 8pm, the next it was 1 in the morning and we were slightly "merry" as we made our way back.

Some Irn-Bru, a cheese roll, three episodes of Frasier later and the night was complete.

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Colin 12:16 pm | 1 comments |

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Getting Stuck In

With Hunting Jack safely under the belt and ideas forming left right and centre, I moved my attention to Stella. I read the entire manuscript I have so far, and edited it carefully as I went along, got the story pulled out in my mind and worked on the development. I'm pretty sure it's going to be novella length by the time it's finished, which is fine, it's not meant to be a novel being based as it is on an album.

I couldn't sleep for thinking about Jackie and the future; where he might be now and what he's involved with. How I do this is unclear as yet, but I know it will happen. I think the period between the end of Hunting Jack and now needs to be covered, I think. Ten years can't be ignored and it is these ten years that will see Jackie shape from a naive 16-year old to a mature man. It will also influence what happens later in his life.

It's something I might be able to go back and write, just like the events of 1984, but do I want to do it so higgledy-piggledy? I mean, writing a series of books should be one after the other right? Or does it?

I also decided there is a whole new scene I want to write into Hunting Jack. I want to include his trip to an Edinburgh library where he goes to research some of what he has found out about his family's background. Here he will discover all about the Glasgow Ice-Cream Wars and it will not only help him come to terms earlier, but make his goal clearer. It will also help explain events to the reader more, too, rather than have to work all of it out at the end.

I joined the
Great Poetry Exchange 2006
, another exciting event put together by Rick Lupert of the Poetry Super Highway. I'll be teamed randomly with another author and we will swap poetry chapbooks. Rick also did the Great Poetry Giveaway last year, which spawned the creation of my first chapbook, Brick by Brick and was the third top downloaded e-book of the exercise.

That's about it for today. Working on these two manuscripts took up most of my time - outside work - though I did have to get my bag packed for my weekend away. I'll be off to South Shields tomorrow afternoon and then Newcastle on Saturday evening.

Should be interesting.

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Colin 11:34 am | 1 comments |

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Jackie Lives On And February's GDR

Slightly warmer today, but still bloody cold. Even the temperature of the water in my aquarium has dropped due to the temperature in the house. My beanie hat is still working well and my office is still a shit hole. I need to shave badly but can't be arsed and my slippers are getting a bit frayed. May need to get new ones. I've had my current ones for about 10 years. My sister, Fiona, gave them to me for a birthday one year. They have Mr. Smiley on them. How ironic.

I completed the first re-draft of Hunting Jack. I gathered all the individual issues together and compilated them into a single manuscript. This is the first time the Hunting Jack novel has existed in such a format. Previously it has been saved in 81 individual issues of between 1,000 and 2,000 words. The word count according to this newly united manuscript is 90,600 words through 38 chapters.

The ending is different in that I chopped off what was effectively the final issue of the serial, thereby leaving the story wide open for 'what happens next'. Also, Stevie Love, the gangster's gangster, lives through it all and doesn't get killed in the final scene after all.

This means that I have created what is the second/middle book of a series. The first book would logically cover the Glasgow Ice-Cream Wars of 1983/4, Jackie's adoption and his family's 'disappearance'.

The next book may be a London based one, following Jackie growing up and his identity conflicts. It might be better served going straight to Hunting Jack; I'd have to think longer about that one.

After Hunting Jack comes the really exciting bit. I would be writing in real-time and decisions would have to be made about what has happened to Jackie since 1995 (when HJ is set). Where does he live, with who, and what does he do? What's his purpose? Then of course, there is Stevie Love and the part he has to play in all this.

It's all very exciting. I feel myself being more drawn towards writing what happens after Hunting Jack at this moment in time. My mind is cultivating all sorts of ideas. Maybe I hit on more than I realised when the idea for Jackie McCann first came into my mind at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004.

While I am completing the writing Stella(which I simply must get diown on paper), I am going to formulate strong themes and ideas for the sequal to Hunting Jack. My first novel, A Friend To Die For, may have to wait longer.

February's GDR List

* Work on Stella
* Complete first refradft of Hunting Jack - (76/81 done in Jan)
* Change ending to Hunting Jack
* Keep on top of submissions list

* Write poems if the moment takes

* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology - still pending
* Write four weekly blog entries for TSDR
* Write and submit another step-dad article for Interactive Dad

Marketing and Promotion
* Continue marketing and promotion of Fringe Fantastic (see s/sheet for details)
* Follow up FF review/interview requests
* Keep website up to date

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

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR

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 11:28 am | 0 comments |