Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stiff As A Board And April's GDR Review

I woke today with a body in agony. I felt as though I had been given a good stiff kicking by a dozen wrestlers wearing size 10 steel toe-capped Doc Martin boots. My ribs, back, stomach, neck, knees, thighs, feet and arms all ached as though bruised and battered. And all because of a two hour skatastic dancing session to the live sound of The Beat and The Specials. It was totally worth it though.

When I managed to pull my strained body out of bed I got ready and took Laura out for the morning. She had her own things she needed to do and later we popped into the aquarium shop to get some supplies. The bulb had gone in the tank so I needed a new one, as did I need some new plants, some slate and a new net.

On the way home we stopped in Leith Links and eat our ice-creams (it was another glorious day) before heading home where Gail had made mince and tatties for dinner. Sublime!

My new book listing is up on the Poetry Super Highway website for the Free-For-All which starts tonight. Well, it will be 8am tomorrow before it starts in the UK but we're all ready to go. I can't wait to see what some of the other 74 e-books are like. There are some poets I discovered after last years Free-For-All and I've kept an eye on their work ever since. It's a great way to network and get ideas. I ended up writing Fringe Fantastic because of it!

GDR Review for April

* Complete first re-draft of Stella - WIP, extra 1k written
* Complete second redraft of Hunting Jack - first two chapters done
* Complete new chapter of Hunting Jack - not done
* Write a new short story - not done
* Keep on top of submissions list - done

* Write poem for reading at my sister's wedding in July - WIP
* Write and produce a children's poetry e-book for the PSH Great Poetry Free-For-All - done

* Complete work on Scotland's Treasure for May column - done
* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology - not done
* Write four weekly blog entries for TSDR - 1/4 done (Punk journalism)
* Write and submit another step-dad article for Interactive Dad (2 already waiting) - not done

Marketing and Promotion
* Step up marketing and promotion of Fringe Fantastic for Fringe - done
* Keep website up to date - done

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild - really have to do this
* Finish reading friends novel WIP and prepare crit - almost done
* Read from my 'waiting to be read' pile - finish The Black Book by Ian Rankin plus more - not done
* Prepare for Extra HJ research - not done

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

Things That Turned Up

Robert Louis Stevenson - Always in Edinburgh, published by The Literary Traveler
Published new e-book on kids poetry, Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1

What A Waste rejected by Fringe Magazine 5/4/06
Loaded rejected by Fringe Magazine 5/4/06
The Oasis rejected by Open Wide Magazine 12/4/06

Fiction - 1,000
Non-Fiction - 10,800
Poetry - 880

Outstanding Submissions
Insidious Reflections 1
Writing Magazine 1
3am Magazine 1
Barcelona Review 1
The Portable Muse 2
One Story 2
Adirondack Review 1
Espresso Fiction 3

Interactive Dad 2

Not the best of months as far as output in the fiction department goes so I'm feeling rather frustrated and tense about it all. The first half of the month ran away from me and a lot of it was down to having so much to do I didn't know where to start. Procrastination of the worst kind, I think.

I feel like I wasted the entire month actually, except when I look at the output from the view of the Poetry Super Highway Great Free-For-All, I do have something substantial to show for it. Part of my GDR was to try out kids poetry, so I did, in the form of an e-book for the PSH project.

It came out well and I am proud of it so really I shouldn't be feeling like this. If I had been able - bothered my arse - to work more on my fiction more I would probably be feeling less annoyed with myself.

May MUST be made to count big style!

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 2:00 pm | 3 comments |

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Laura's First Ska Gig

Scotland was bathed in glorious sunshine all day, which made for a fabulous family fun day out. We met up with nutty pal of mine, Rob Wardlaw, at Waverly station and made our way out to the Big in Falkirk festival in Callendar Park. There were shows and fairground attractions, beer tents and all-day live music on the main stage.

It wasn't until around 7pm though that the real fun started. Laura's first Ska gig was kicked off with The Beat, who played for just over an hour some of the classics from the 2-Tone era. She was scared at first; scared of the way some of the people - like me - were dancing and carrying on. There was plenty of room though as a lot of people had filtered away so she had lots of space to get into it herself. She complained of the music making her tummy go funny - it was just excitement though and she danced it off for the next two and a half hours. What a trooper!

Last band of the day was the headlining act, The Specials - well, Neville Staples at least. He was excellent. Pure British Ska keeping us going till after nightfall. He finished with a fantastic version of Ghost Town and for a free gig, I have to say it was superb stuff. I would have easily paid to see such quality.

With the gig finishing at 9.30'ish we had plenty of time to get home. Laura was shattered, as were we all, and hit the sack as soon as we got home. I found out just how unfit I am during this gig, and I'll have to be a lot fitter for the Madness gig later in the year that's for sure!

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 11:37 am | 0 comments |

Friday, April 28, 2006

Launch Of The New Book Cover

Here it is. Please click to see it in full size.

Colin 11:08 pm | 0 comments |

A Friday Roaster

I had to wear my shades for the first time this year. Summer is well and truly on the way. It was so bright from the get-go this morning, with sheer blue skies and a poignant sun, I even had to resort to my lightweight jacket to avoid sweltering in the warmth. None of this stopped the air-conditioning people in my work from turning the temperature though and for the most part of the day I sat in a stinking hot office, wishing I were outside cooling off in the heat of the mid-day sun.

And so I went to Clark's. Just a quickie with Dave to alleviate the boredom. We would have loved to have been able to stay all afternoon, but such is the family commitments we have made it was impossible.

Most of the evening was spent finalising the design for my e-book. Devon Ellington left a note on yesterday's entry with a superb idea to get my own drawings into the book. It was too late to carry out the plan though, as I was up till after 10pm working on the cover, analysing the poems for errors and making sure it was converted into a pdf file ok. I just never had time to do it before the deadline. What I'll do is a second edition of the book some time further down the line and incorporate the pictures in then. Meantime I made do with clipart. Not ideal but it does give the book a wee boost.

Tomorrow I'm off to Falkirk to the Big in Falkirk festival. It looks like it will make for a good family day out but the main motivation for me (selfishly) is that The Beat and Neville Staples of The Specials are playing - two of the main components of the 2-Tone ska era. The weather is forecast to be brilliant and there's nothing quite like live outdoor ska in the sun.

This gig will form the final cog in my article for the May issue of The Scruffy Dog Review, so guess what I'll be doing on Sunday!

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 10:44 pm | 0 comments |

Thursday, April 27, 2006

So Tired

I am so tired. Two nights out in a row is not something I am able to do as easily these days as I used to. My eyes strained all day at the computer, the heat in the office made it unbearable and I had to fight the urge to close my eyes and slip into a deep sleep at my desk most of the day. My neck hurts and my feet - well, my feet are aching from all the walking I've done lately with a hole in the right sole. Or are they?

It looks very unlikely now that I'mgoing to be able to insert scans of the drawings for the poems in the PSH e-book for the weekend. I can't seem to get the scanner working at all now I've moved to XP. It's an older scanner but normally with a driver update it's not a problem. I thik I just need to locate the correct driver package, though I was positive the one I found would suit. I'll need to keep on searching for another solution but I doubt I'll have one by Friday night. There's only sixteen poems, so without the drawings it is going to be missing something as well as be a short read. What to do about a front cover? I have no idea! Damnations!!

To resolve the problem, in the evening I turned to Google and the availability of free clipart from the internet. I downloaded some appropriate cartoon figures that relate to the poems and inserted them into the manuscript. With a little jiggery-pokery I gave the e-book a bit of a fun look so I think it looks alright now, but not really what I wanted. It has to be kept at 1 Meg or under and the front cover design takes to 1.4 Meg. So, still a bit of work to do but my latest e-book, Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 will be available shortly.

Don't forget to vote in the strange Shoe Mystery Poll - big yellow box over to the left of the screen.

<-------THAT WAY!!


For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 11:01 am | 1 comments |

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Shoe Mystery

Felt hungover when I woke up today, the evil drink playing a major part in my downfall this morning after last night's raucous events at the Ordinary Boys gig. It was a most memorable event and they are indeed a band to keep a close eye on. The outcome of the gig also had me committed to take the family to their first ever outdoor ska festival this Saturday in Falkirk. But more on that later.

Tiredness played a major part of my day. I was dreading having to play snooker at night, hoping that Ian would cancel and I could get to bed at a reasonable hour. Not even a bad dose of the skits could put him off though, and he fought through the on-set of a tummy-bug/cold just so he could play snooker with me and drink a few beers.

I desperately need a new pair of shoes. The hole in my right sole is becoming increasingly annoying. If it is wet underfoot, then my foot gets soaked. If it is dry, as it has been a lot lately, I can feel every bump and stone I walk over, digging into my skin and making it sore in places. Bits of glass and stone constantly get stuck in it and my socks are wearing out thin just at the hole.

Or am I making it up? It occurred to me that some of you may think I'm just introducing fiction into my blog just to spice it up. I mean who would seriously walk about in a city full of cobbles with a hole in the bottom of their shoe? Who would honestly be so stupid to walk about and allow rain, stones and bits of glass to find their way into their shoe so easily, when there are an abundance of shoe shops in Edinburgh?, Maybe I am making it up, and maybe I am not. To that end I am going to have a poll. It's in the big yellow box over to the left of this page.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 1:43 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ska's New Wave

An emergency text message from my pal Craig, who I was meant to be meeting after work for the Ordinary Boys gig, revealed he was laid up in bed and unable to progress further than his lavatory. Bad timing indeed, and not for the first time he has insisted I get him a ticket only for gastronomic problems to interject. Or 'outerject' as the case may be.

This of course left me with a problem. The plan was to meet Rob Wardlaw at the venue, which is at the other side of Edinburgh. Me and Craig were to wander into a few bars on our way out there before enjoying the gig. I was now left on my own, with a spare brief, so the plan was beginning to look increasingly unlikely.

I asked Gail first. It looked she was on for it but she declined as she is swamped with work and that was even before the baby-sitting problem that would arise. So I started sending out messages to my mates. With no takers by half past three, it was looking more and more likely I would be on my tod, and Craig would be footing the bill for a concert he was never to attend.

I ended up going alone. I stopped into Filthy McNasty's for a pint before hailing a cab out to the Corn Exchange. I met up with Rob and we sank a few in the bar next to the venue, catching up on old times. I didn't realise but it is almost a year since we last saw each other. Far too long, we agreed, and promised it wouldn't happen again.

The gig was most surprising. I'm not going to go into it in too much detail because the May issue of The Scruffy Dog Review is going to be a live music special of which this gig, Embrace, Rab Howat, Neville Staple and The Beat will all play a part.

All I will say is, it was a great concert. The influence from The Jam, The Clash, Madness and a touch of UB40 was plain to see. They had attitude, energy and put on a stage performance that went against their stereotype 'boy-band' image.

I made my way home afterwards happy that I went, but the unfortunate thing was the amount of beer consumed. Rob had attained a major thirst during the day and was knocking them back like they were going out of fashion. I kept up, but there are to be sore heads and tummies in the morning no doubt.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 10:22 am | 0 comments |

Monday, April 24, 2006

Corporate Rain

I sat through a 90-minute communication session today. It was full of party-political, corporate bollo and drove me up the wall with frustration having to listen to it. I even spilt my coffee on the floor as I shuffled my feet in attempt to do a Sammy Davis Jr. special under my chair to relieve the abject boredom.

The whole experience only served to prove my instinct correct, that a life of driving myself up the corporate ladder is just not for me. I have no interest in becoming one of the drones who have lost sight of everything else in life except management information charts, graphs and service statistics. I have no interest corporate babble and licking the arse of managers just to get further embedded into a company that talks a good game but delivers a bad smell.

Don't get me wrong. My job can be good at times because I get to mess around with I.T. and learn about new technologies. That bit is good because it is interesting, but totally unrelated to what this company does. I.T. exists everywhere, and always will. So as far as making money in this sector goes, I'm relatively safe.

The problem is the whole rat-race thing. Being tied down and unable to create within my own set of parameters. In fact, to hell with parameters. There's enough of that in here as it is. Too much boredom and nit-picking, too much interference of this company into personal lives and too much brown-nosing. It's just not me.

My email client at home is giving me jip. I found a fix but every time I re-boot I have to apply it, which is no good. Another fix has to be found because I'm not copying files over every time I want to open Outlook Express.

When I did get it open there was a rejection. A Bond of Faith and What a Waste were both thrown back from The Summerset Review.

I ran a check on The Literary Traveler, who last October accepted my piece Robert Louis Stevenson - Always in Edinburgh, and see that it has now been published under the Premium section. It includes photographs and was posted on Sunday so you have to be a paid-up member to read the full article. Have a scan at what is there, and let me know what you think:

The Literary Traveler -- Robert Louis Stevenson ~ Always in Edinburgh.

Later in the evening I worked more in my forthcoming e-book, Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1. It's coming on slowly (the images) but we're getting there. I may end up doing them in black and white for effect.

One problem that has arisen (found while helping Gail on a persentation this evening), is that my scanner won't work with XP Pro. When I got it, it came with the PC which was then W98. Even after downloading the updated rivers it doesn't seem to be compatible. Without it, the book will be imageless.

Finally, me and Laura waved goodbye to the Black Molly from the aquarium. Tyson had contracted septecemia and had to be put down before he was a threat to the others. Poor wee fella!

It never rains.......

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 11:50 am | 0 comments |

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Too Much To Do

Last Friday was a glorious day. A day befitting the 80th birthday celebrations of our Monarch, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The sun shone relentlessly and the blue skies unbroken for practically the entire day. It was so good, when I came home I sat out in the back garden with Laura, poured a beer and tuned on the stereo in the conservatory. We listened to some Jamaican Ska while eating our burgers under the summer evening sun.

Elsewhere there were no Friday trips to Clark's. Too much work to do, believe it or not. I went for a quick pint after work in The Guildford Arms for a bloke who has recently left our department (escaped when the chance arose), and bumped into the ex-Lord Provost of Edinburgh standing at the bar, Eric Milligan. Man about town, he seemed to have no problem reading his paper and downing his ale while the rest of the bar mumbled they knew his face from somewhere.

One thing that I noticed immediately upon entering the bar, was the disgusting stench of the place. Bleach and stale beer from spillages on the carpets swirled up my nostrils making me feel quite nauseous. The reason for this is not that the staff at The Guildford prefer to use strong bleach or leave the carpets uncleaned, but that there is no cigarette smoke to block out the foul stenches. The recent smoking ban means that when you are in a bar, as well as their being no atmosphere, unbroken conversations or relaxed moods of creativity, there is the smell of bleach to fill your eyes, dullness and of course, people's farts are noticeable like they never were before.

When the Chancellor sees the tax dropping from unsold cigarettes in this country, I'm quite sure that even though the bill for the NHS will be smaller, but all those meddling do-gooders who said they detested smoking in pubs will wish they had kept their gobs shut when the level of income tax goes up to pay for the lost revenue. The money has to come from somewhere.

In short, Jack McConnell is nothing but a jumped up councillor, a poor politician, and a mini-Hitler. He has done more to ruin this country than anyone else and should be strung up by his boots, hung from the Scott Monument and pelted with rotten eggs.

The rest of the weekend was spent around the house. On Saturday I had Laura all day. I spent the morning up town as usual but didn't buy anything except some frozen fish food for my aquarium. I browsed lots of books in Waterstone's West End but nothing took my fancy.

Gail asked me if I was dong anything next Friday because she was hoping to go and see her Aunt Sheila who asked her over so she wouldn't be alone while her husband was out a party. With nothing planned it was of course, not a problem and she needn't really have asked.

I later found out that she is accompanying Aunt Sheila to this "party" to keep her company and that the "party" is in fact a retiral bash for Sheila's husband. Dave, you see, is a fireman, and three branches of the Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade will all be there - and Sheila and Gail.

The slots fitted into the jigsaw perfectly. She's only going because it is fireman's bash and no other reason. I'll need to try and get myself invited to one of my mate Bob Mackie's works nights out. He's a nurse.

Laura is trying to do some pictures for the upcoming e-book, but it is proving to be extremely difficult for both of us. Time is ticking on this one so we will have to work hard this week if we are to make the deadline. I've only really got Monday and Thursday to finish it because Tuesday I'm out at a gig (for my Scruffy Dog Review column) and Wednesday is my regular snooker slot.

On Sunday I upgraded my PC to Windows XP SP2, of which there have been some teething problems. Nothing I can't fix (hopefully). With XP on I was also able to install broadband and now my internet access is free-flowing and undisturbed. No more can any annoying MIL's repeat to me, "I take it you were on the internet all night again while I was trying to call you?" You'd think our phone line is only ever used for that. Not any more though, and the quality is a breath of fresh air.

I'm feeling the tightness of the end of the month approaching. I have had a funny month - crap but with good highlights, though in small numbers. Ideally I want to spend more time executing my plans but I just cannot find the time. Everything else needs to be done first. I have to get the book done and complete my work on Stella, Hunting Jack and then there is all the Fringe Fantastic promotion for the summer. God - there is just so much to do!!!

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 12:05 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, April 21, 2006

God Save The Queen

A happy 80th Birthday to

Her Majesty, The Queen!

Picture courtesy of

God Save The Queen

God save our gracious Queen
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.

O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter thine enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen.

Birthday Links

The Official Website celebrating The Queen's 80th Birthday
The BBC Website covering the Queen's 80th Birthday

Colin 12:08 pm | 1 comments |

Thursday, April 20, 2006

All Roads Lead To The Madness Gig

At 10:41am there was an explosion of excitement at my desk. An email arrived announcing the long-awaited sale of tickets for this year's Christmas Tour by Madness. The dates were announced last month, but what with all the arguments over what artwork to use in the promotion, the sale of tickets had to be put off until it was all ironed out. They decided on some stills taken for the release of the Dangermen album last year, and so now the tickets are available.

The gig in question is for the Glasgow leg of the UK tour at the 10,000 capacity SECC. This will be different for me in that there will be little drinking on my part, and I will be in the seated area, not the mosh-pit. Reason being, this will also be Laura's first Madness gig. She's already learning the songs and dances. I got tickets for the front row of the seats right in the centre so there is plenty of room for skanking and nutty dancing. It was a long wait today till I saw her so I could tell her, but when I did, much jumping around and stupid noises ensued.

I started work on the skeleton for the e-book. I picked out a few fonts for the cover and inside headers and eventually settled on one. I designed the rough layout and played around with the format for a bit. Not sure whether I want to do it in portrait page-by-page or landscape so I can have two sides to each view.

Some of the illustrations are a bit iffy. The ideas are there it's just getting them onto the paper that can be a problem. I'll just have to keep on sketching.

It's coming together nicely though.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 11:03 am | 0 comments |

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Creative Orifice

It's getting warmer here every day. Global warming? Or signs that it's going to be a magic summer? Personally, I think there's nothing worse than having to plod to work in the soaring heat of the Scottish sun (yes, it does exist). I prefer the cold of an autumn breeze and the tightness of a thundering cloud. That said, there is surely nothing finer than sitting by the river under the summer sun, a cold pint in hand and some slow reggae oozing from a nearby bar.

I was aching to write more poems today but being in work only cramped my creativity. It was as though a cork had been plugged into my creative orifice and the pressure behind it was building. I managed one on the way out of the shower. I started singing the first line and realised I had to write it down so I could finish it later. Another came to me during snooker - about Russian tractors, no less - which I also scribbled down in the middle of a frame.

It's funny how these poems exit the 'orifice'. It was the same with Fringe Fantastic. One day they just drop like golden eggs and other days you have to squeeze them out until the veins in your forehead are about to pop.

The sketches for them are not quiet so forthcoming. I'll do one or two for each one and see how the situation stands afterwards. If it doesn't add up to anything then I'll just leave them out. the one about the monkeys on the raft stands out on its own anyway.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 3:24 pm | 1 comments |

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Monkey Poems

Spring is definitely here and the streets are warming up noticeably. I remember last year, April 15th to be precise when we moved into our new house. The front of the building is south-west facing and gets the sun almost the full length of its daily orbit. This makes the living room and main bedroom naturally very warm and ideal for sleeping with the windows open.

Now that we've passed the April 15th point again, the sun is here again and it reminds me of our early days in the house when the sun shone constantly and the house was roasting but with the gentle breeze in the evening, sheltered from the wind by the other houses in the cul-de-sac. At night you can see the moon gliding across the sky, silver fading into the blue background.

I was moved at work to yet another new desk. This one has good points and bad points. Good, in that I am back near my team and that I am nearer to a window. Bad, in that there is a network point on the floor at my feet, which prevents me pulling my chair up to the desk fully. Also bad is that I have to change my phone number yet again.

After all the Easter holidays it was good to get back into Club Sandwich and get a cup of delicious soup they always have on offer for lunch. They always have loads of excellent soup on the go and the coffee isn't too shabby either.

I worked on my e-book all evening. I wrote several that are worthy of publishing in Silly Poems for Wee People Vol. 1, and one that is an absolute classic. Tentatively called Floating Monkeys, or Monkey's on a Raft, it had me in stitches. I actually burst out laughing at something I wrote because it came out so quickly and caught me by surprise. I rushed downstairs and read it to Gail and even she smirked so it can't be bad at all. Although it's a kid's poem, it is surely one of my best. It has everything; wit, imagination, imagery and idiocy - everything I like in a poem.

So far I have about 15 or 16 poems for the e-book. I want to have about 20 and I am toying with the idea of including sketches to accompany them. It's great fun working on this. As part of my GDR it was well worthwhile including it and I can see me doing more of this stuff in the near future.

It was with a sad heart though, that I received by way of email, notice that Chiaro Oscuro is to close on the 20th April. It was once a very lively and critical forum for poets that I found very hard to fit in to. A lot of the poets were extremely gifted and intellectual. I found their poetry difficult to decipher, yet beautiful in their use of imagery and metaphor. I'll miss CO, I learnt a lot from it, even if the biggest lesson was that I don't fit in to the conventional idea of what a poet is.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 10:47 am | 0 comments |

Monday, April 17, 2006

Back On The Rails

My mission to get back on track and make April a productive month started first thing this morning. I made, what we Scot's refer to as, a beezer of a cup of coffee.

After consuming said coffee, I fed my fishes with some live blood worms and headed off to work in the sunny but windy climate of springtime Edinburgh.

Work is, as ever, pish, but I don't want to dwell on that. There is too much to do. I've had to prioritise my workload for the remainder of the month so that I can get maximum ticks on my GDR as well as maximum satisfaction. I caught up on some blogs and emails then updated my submission spreadsheet.

I met Gail for lunch in Leith at the Waterline Bar. I had a massive bowl of macaroni and cheese. It was delicious with it's combo of melted cheeses and I was stuffed by the end of it. I knew there and then there would be no dinner for me tonight.

I spent the night researching and working on the e-book for the PSH Free-For-All project. It has to be in by the end of the month and there is a few things I want to try out in it in an experimental way. It will be another freebie like Brick by Brick (last years entry to the same project - see top-left of page) but this is entirely for kids. I caught up on some outstanding work for The Scruffy Dog magazine and did some reading before bed.

Back on the rails again and feeling good!

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 1:02 pm | 1 comments |

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Fate Steps In

I'm aware that the frequency of my blog entries have been somewhat poor over the last week, so I must apologise. A combination of commitments to things outwith my writing life have conspired against me, but have borne fruit in a personal way.

A new dawn has come over my life and while it has prevented me picking up a pen or keyboard (I know you don't pick up a keyboard but you know what I mean), I have to say I am a satisfied and happy man.

To summarise the past week, here is a short list of important sub-events:

* I upgraded my home PC with a FireWire port, USB hub and new cabling
* I received a rejection note from Open Wide Magazine for The Oasis
* I had an enjoyable catch-up and bevy session with my mate Craig last Monday
* I went to see the UK band Embrace on Friday at the Corn Exchange
* On Saturday Gail and I celebrated our first year in our new home
* I was recognised in a pub in Edinburgh as being "that writer bloke from the leaflets"
* I still have a hole in my shoe

The weather has begun to pick up and we are currently in pre-summer sunshine mode. In other words it is still a bit fresh but you can feel the warm currents doing their best to blow over the country.

I have a lot of catching up to do. There are some writer's blogs I must get back up to date with, I have still to finish my friend's manuscript (I never read a single work last week - not even a newspaper), I did no writing at all on Stella, on Hunting Jack editing or on the PSH Free-For-All project. I did buy a couple of items from Fopp on Thursday though; a Led Zeppelin album from 1971 for a fiver and a Tim Burton book called, The Melancholoy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories.

This has been a dreadful month for both writing and reading. There is still time to make an impact but do you know what, I don't care. Other things have happened that more than make up the balance. So if you are waiting for an e-mail reply or to a message on my mobile, then don't worry I will get back.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 3:11 pm | 0 comments |

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Weekend

I spent Friday through in Glasgow at the Gallery of Modern Art and in the Glasgow Science Museum. It pissed with rain the entire time but apart from that I had an excellent time. It was just me and Laura and we made a film of the trip, called Laura Goes to Glasgow. Strangely enough, we realised it is exactly 2 years to the day since we made our first film, Laura at the Zoo. The only downside to the day was Zygote In My Coffee rejecting the four poems and short story I had on submission to them.

On Saturday I was up early and away into town. I had my usual coffee, picked my horses for the day, browsed in Dixons for a DV cable and PC stuff (for movie editing capability) and had a wander through the aquarium shop on Leith Walk. My Grand National horse to win (Ross Comm) fell at the sixth but my each-way choice (Hedgehunter) came in second so I covered my bet. A nice wee Chinese meal for dinner in the evening and the day was a winner.

Sunday was relaxed. In fact I did hardly anything other than work on my PC, fish tank and some reading. I've started work on my entry into this years PSH Free-For-All. It will be called, Silly Poems For Wee People. I'm hoping to get Laura to contribute some drawings. I had some lovely mussels in creamy garlic sauce for dinner this evening - mmmmmm.
It's short and sweet this entry, I know, but I have a lot to do this week and blogging just isn't my top priority. Don't worry - it's just temporary. Have a great Monday!

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 11:30 am | 0 comments |

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Nutty Training

I woke mid-morning to the sound of Shrek 2 blaring from the TV set downstairs. I called the house phone from my mobile and Laura answered. We decided to arrange to meet Gail for lunch at noon seeing as it was such a lovely day outside.

When we got outside we discovered it was sunny, but the wind was horrendously strong. We lifted our coats over our heads in Leith Links and were nearly blown all the way to Joppa.

We met with Gail and went to a glamorous little saloon called The Bowler's Rest. It's like Clark's, but with nobody in it. We had lunch and then walked out into a sudden vertical rainstorm. By the time we got to the end of the road we were soaked through and the sun had come back out. The wind helped to blow-dry us though.

When we got home the first part of my training kicked in for the Christmas Madness tour in December. Me and Laura sat and watched Divine Madness to see what real pop music videos are all about. She's picking up the choruses and I've given her the greatest hits on her MP3 player to learn the rest of the words.

Two rejections came in today; Loaded and What A Waste both dumped by Fringe Magazine.

Thew work goes on.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 1:34 pm | 0 comments |

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


It was around 3am when I finally put the lights out last night. I was struggling to keep them open and my head was nodding off in all directions then snapping back to upright as I fought off the pull from sleep. It worked a treat, too. When I woke I was surprised to see it was after mid-day and happy that working until the early hours provoked a longer sleep, which hopefully should take me through tonight's night shift without falling asleep at my desk.

I went in at the back of six o'clock and stayed until the early hours. Working this kind of shift as a one-off knackers both days either side of the shift. Your body just isn't adjusted and then when it does you have to switch back to normal daytime programming. The day before you are trying to get as much rest as possible so you don't die at your desk, and the day after you are shattered. Most people when they come home from a 9 to 5 do something in the evening or relax. When you finish at 4 or 5am what can you do except try to wind down enough so you can sleep. It ruins your internal clock and your social/family life.

In saying that, I love being awake as the city moves from dusk to darkness and into the depths of the night. Seeing its secrets open up and being part of the moon dance. I feel more attached to society in the middle of the night when nobody is around for some reason. It is almost as if the work belongs to me as I walk the empty streets with everyone tucked up in their cosy beds.

So there I was tonight sitting at my desk working away when the headache kicked in. I don't know if it was the altered sleep pattern or the caffeine consumed to keep awake but it was a right thumping one right at the front of my forehead. And there was no paracetamol anywhere. Typical.

I finally got away from work at around half three in the morning, went home, had a cup of tea, took a Syndol for my head and tried to wind down.

I did manage to get the first three chapters of Stella, adding a further 1000 words net and changing much of the detail about so it can link in with the later sections. Once I decided to make Chapter 1 the prologue set just after the end of the story, everything else seemed to become clearer.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 4:08 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Drinking Coffee 'Till The Early Hours

Spring has arrived. Beautiful blue skies accompanied wispy clouds and a mild fresh breeze making last weeks rain and hail a distant memory. All of a sudden summer seems not too far off and my mind turns as ever, to walking through Camden Town in north London. The backdrop of reggae and blue beat matches my steps and the smell of food and smoke wafts past. I arrive at a suitably chosen bar with open windows or a beer garden and plonk myself down for the afternoon with a pint of the good stuff.

But this is Edinburgh and a far cry from NW1.

I was off work today - hooray!! It's the Easter holidays and so I had an awesome morning. I made coffee and toast and lay in bed eating it while watching a couple of episodes of Frasier on Channel 4. Then I showered, checked my email and posted my blog, the SDR blog (30 Years Of Punk And A New Kind Of Music Journalism), and then took Laura to see Ice Age 2 at the cinema. We really enjoyed it, it was our kind of film, full of stupidity and daftness.

With a nightshift impending tomorrow night I stayed up until 3am working on Stella and drinking coffee. I need to get tuned in to the overnight mentality and so will sleep on tomorrow morning so I can be best prepared for what is going to be a very long shift. There's huge changes taking place in the industry and I have to be on-site while the company that pays my salary implements them.

It'll be quiet if nothing else, though it's a shame the drinks machine churns out a cross between kidney by-products and tar and calls it coffee.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 7:17 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, April 03, 2006

April's GDR

Beautiful blue skies and a nice fresh chill in the air accompanied me on my journey to the cesspit for day work. Quite a contrast, but most enlightened.

During my early morning email check, I got an email from Rick Lupert of the Poetry Super Highway (PSH) concerning this years Poetry Free-For-All. Some of you may remember what this is about. You create an e-book of poetry, send it in then on the specified date, people can download your e-book for free for 24 hours only.

I wasn't going to do it this year what with my fiction commitments and work I have to do on Fringe Fantastic, but then I hot on an idea. In my GDR document there is a section about trying a new form of writing in a serious capacity and of these I put down as children's poetry. Since I already have an amount of children's poetry on disk, with a little extra effort I could write some more, without losing all the time available needed for my fiction work, and produce an e-book for the Free-For-All. I smell a plan!

I checked my disk and I currently have nine poems already written. Not as much as I remembered writing but still a start. This doesn't have to be a big project but I have until April 30th to get something together. The process will be a lot faster than last time round because I'm becoming a dab hand at self-publishing. So - what have I got to lose? I'll do it!

Time for April's GDR.

* Complete first re-draft of Stella
* Complete second redraft of Hunting Jack
* Complete new chapter of Hunting Jack
* Write a new short story
* Keep on top of submissions list

* Write poem for reading at my sister's wedding in July
* Write and produce a children's poetry e-book for the 2006 Poetry Free-For-All (last year was Brick by Brick)

* Complete work on Scotland's Treasure for May column by 15th April
* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology
* Write four weekly blog entries for TSDR
* Write and submit another step-dad article for Interactive Dad (2 already waiting)

Marketing and Promotion
* Step up marketing and promotion of Fringe Fantastic for 2006 Fringe
* Keep website up to date

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild - really have to do this
* Finish reading friends novel WIP and prepare crit
* Read from my 'waiting to be read' pile - finish The Black Book by Ian Rankin plus more
* Prepare for Extra HJ research

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 10:58 am | 0 comments |

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hectic With The Family

The good weather returned yesterday (Saturday). While I like the rain, it makes a nice change to be out in the bright daylight again. It helped when I nipped into Leith during the afternoon to get some ingredients for a meal I was cooking the next day for my parents visiting. I took Laura and we had a bit of a carry on as we walked through Leith Links. I'm teaching her all the words to the Madness songs for the concert at the end of the year. We're also planning an outfit for her to wear - Madness gigs aren't just concerts - they are EVENTS.

I got an email from the Madness mailing list saying all the gigs this year had been cancelled. I showed it to Laura and she was gutted. Then I reminded her it was April Fool's Day. Oh how we laughed (it fooled me at first, too).

I made part of the dessert for tomorrow's meal and then the rest of the day was spent getting the house tidy and ready for tomorrow.

In the evening, in order to celebrate my bonus from work, we had a big family take-away meal - Indian! Lots of Dupiaza, Tikka Masala, Nan bread, Pilau rice, pakora and kebabs - wonderful! I could hardly stand by the end of it. It was so bad I couldn't lie on my stomach in bed and had to lie on my back all night.

I was up early today (Sunday) and finished up cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. I nipped out to get some wine and a newspaper then got to work on the rest of the dessert. One is a reliable pudding (pineapple cake) and came out a treat, the other - a new one - had a meringue topping and when it rose nearly filled the entire oven, then deflated to a sad state. It tasted nice though when it was served.

For starter we had Gail's Carrot and Coriander soup then for the main I cooked lamb in spices and white wine and served it with baby sweetcorn, mange tout, new potatoes and fried baby mushrooms. It was a new dish for me but it worked a treat and everyone liked it.

It was good to have my parents over, the first time would you believe, almost a year. It's funny when you think about it; I see my in-laws almost every day but seeing my own parents you could count on one hand for a year's worth. Familiarity ~ Absence ~ Chinese proverbs spring to mind.

My Dad brought five fish over for me plus some new plants for my aquarium. I got 2 new Clown Loach, 2 Ramerizi and 1 Red-Tailed Black Shark. (For more on this go to my Colly's Fishes website. My Dad used to keep an aquarium himself and because he can't have one back home, he loves the fact that me and my sister's fiance both have one. We got the new fish into the tank then went down to Leith Docks to take some photographs with my Dad's old Pentax SLR he is trying to sell.

We drank coffee after the meal and talked about things. I relaxed more once the meal was out of the way and by the time I went to bed I was pretty tired.

All in all, it was a good day and a good weekend.

For more information about Fringe Fantastic, please go to the website:

Colin 3:37 pm | 0 comments |