Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Good Clean Fun

Today I felt slightly back to normal after my little jaunt down to Newcastle for the Madness gig on Thurdsay. I say back to normal, because today is the first day I managed to shed some of the fatigue, loss of appetite and dare I say it, the little bout of depression that comes in the wake of such an extreme event. The dazed-brain effect is still in place though, as when I got to the coffee shop this morning and pulled out my notebook, I realised I'd forgotten my pen. The tip of the iceberg, as far as little 'senoir moments' like that are concerned.

There is always an element of feeling like you just don't quite fit into the world any more after a Madness gig. Bus and train seats feel different, words become impronounceable, people look at you and stare, food tastes strange, clothes hang looser off your shoulder, and even this keyboard is giving me jip.

It was a truly awesome day on Thursday though, and I really made the best of it having being seated at the Glasgow gig. I hopped on the 9am from Waverly and made my to Newcastle, jumped on the Metro system and was supping my first Guinness by 11:30am in a pub in South Shields. My mate, Craig, showed up and we had another before heading out to his flat.

From there on it was a musical and drinking bonanza. Ska and reggae filled every corner of the flat along with our ever-increasing laughter and chat, and of course the beer flowed - perhaps a little too well - but nobody was caring.

Later on we headed back into Newcastle and to O'Neills bar, where I discovered just how drunk I had become. I just hadn't realised it. The place was packed full people dressed in black and white suits, pork pie hats, shades and Fez's. I myself had dressed in jeans and a white Fred Perry top, shades but no pork pie this year - I couldn't find it!

We moved from there towards the venue itself, the Telewest Arena, and got ourselves some more beer (Red Stripe of all things) from one of the bars inside. Then the first moment of controversy. I went to buy a progamme and was todl they were ten pounds. Ten Pounds! I couldn't convicne the girl to drop her price so had to cough up. I couldn't go home without one.

Then the second moment of controversy. The staff at the Telewest Arena have a horrible habit of taking the full ticket off you when you enter instead of just the stub. I'm a stickler for this kind of thing and hate to be parted with my brief, so I tried to convince the man that it would be ok. He wouldn't listen - rules were rules and they had to be applied to everyone. The wee prick wouldn't give me my ticket back and at one point I found myself trying to pull the damn thing from his hand in a feeble game of Tug of War. When he called over two burly bouncers I gave up, shouted something about him being a wee Hitler and disappeared into the 10,000 strong crowd.

We got ourselves a pretty good vantage point; left of stage about 20 or 30 yards from the front. That was as close as we could get at that point. Madness came on dead on 9pm to the Star Trek and Space Odyssey theme tune intros and then it was into One Step Beyond. The place went absolutely mental. They ran through pretty much the same set as Glasgow from what I could remember, and throughout it all there was much over-crowding, jostling, stomping and skanking. I probably lost around two stones just through sweating.

Having forgotten my camera, I had to rely on my mobile phone for pictures, but only succeeded in capturing two very blurred images and a shoddy video of the lads on stage.

After the first encore it happened again as what happened in Glasgow; loads of people dived for the exits thinking the gig was over. This left spaces opening up in front of the stage. "Fuck it," I said to Craig. "I'm going in!" And I did. I got right to the front of the stage - the very front - and when Suggs and Chas Smash appeared above me they launched into Night Boat To Cairo. The place went berserk, and then things started to get hairy.

With the floor being so wet from beer and sweat it was impossible for everyone to stay upright. And with everyone being so tightly packed in and jumping around in time to the beat, accidents were bound to happen. Heads, limbs, torsos and other body parts seemed to be all over the place. I managed to slip and fall, my legs taking the feet of a couple of heavy-set skinheads who then crashed onto my ribs and hips. I got more than a couple fists and elbows in the face just for good measure as the romp continued - I don't think anyone didn't. I saw one guy get his nose broken, blood everywhere, but with nowhere to go he just kept on dancing. None of this was deliberate I should point out - it was all very cheerful enough, but as I say, the environment and the music meant it was bound to happen - it always does.

Being in a moshpit can be a lot of fun, being in one at a Madness gig is as dangerous as it is exhausting. But it's all good clean fun and I love it. Absolutely love it.

The gig ended and we trooped out of the arena. I stopped to get a ticket that they were handing back out as souvenirs. It's not the same though. It's not my ticket, and now I have one with Mr. Dunlop on it instead of my own name.

Much of the journey back, I'm afraid, becomes a bit of a blur at this point. The drink and activity of the evening, the sheer thrilling high I was on, had taken effect and I was in a sore and weary state - but elated at what I'd witnessed. I recall nothing about the journey home on the Metro train to South Shields - what I do know was relayed to me by Craig - something about managing to empty almost an entire carriage of people. I did nothing illegal or disgusting - just maybe a bit too loud and boisterous for some types. You're kind of deaf after these gigs, you see, and it takes till the next day for the ringing in your ears to stop.

When I woke up I was in Craig's living room on the couch, still fully clothed though my Fred Perry top was damp and cold from the evening's sweating. He was snoring on the other couch and a DVD of Frasier was about to finish on the TV. Several empty cups of tea and Irn-Bru were scattered around amongst discarded crisp wrappers (essential salt replacement was my excuse) and it was just after four in the morning. I felt dreadfully woozy so went back to sleep.

The next time I woke up I had to stay up so that I could catch my 11:34am train back to Edinburgh. Which was not an enjoyable journey in the slightest. What with the pounding headache, parched mouth, dodgy gut, sore ribs, neck, knees and back and the kids screaming in the carriage (yes I know - poetic justice if ever there was), it was a hellish way to head home.

I got home only to remember that I had to collect Laura, get her ready and take her to perform in a swimming gala. Not an ideal way to recouperate but there you have it. I got home and was in bed for nine.

As for today it was all about trying to coerce myself back into the routine. I cleaned out the hutches and while on the phone to my sister remembered I was working an overnight shift. Wonderful - just when I was about to force some words out onto the paper and attempt to get the rhythm started again.

But like I said earlier, there is a numbess that comes over you after Madness gigs, not just physically, but mentally - because you just don't know if there will ever be another experienced in your lifetime, and secretly you hope it;s not too soon. You realise how old you are getting after one of these gigs - it all realted to the time it takes for you to get over it.

Me? I never get over Madness gigs. I'm sadly passionate, but you have to remember that it's all just a bit of good clean fun!

Next gig: Tonight, Birmingham, NEC
Colin 12:21 am | 3 comments |

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mini Recovery

It was 1am before we got home last night after a long and tiring day. Thus, this morning, I was shattered. I went in to work later than normal and staggered bleary eyed through the day. I got home early'ish too and got my gear ready for tomorrow.

And that's it. Newcastle awaits my arrival. Madness are in Manchester tonight, and tomorrow the North East will see the arrival of the Nutty Tour.

Sorry for the short post. I have not the energy. I am keeping it all for tomorrow. :-)
Colin 8:41 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nutty UK - Glasgow

The day arrived. And the day was over before we knew it.

I picked Laura up from school and got the bus into town, met Gail and we all jumped onto the Glasgow bus. We arrived in plenty of time with my sister and her pal, with still enough time for a sneaky beer or two before taking our seats - front row centre behind 6,000 dancing nutters and the sound and light technicians. Madness gigs are just too rough for 9 year-olds so that was the reason I was sitting for the first time at a Madness gig.

The boys were in great form and I was delighted with the stage setup and backdrop video. We had a near capacity crowd of over 9,000 in all, with only the far flung seated areas at the sides were empty.

Most memorable moments:

- The intro music, a combination of Star trek and Space Odyssey
- One Step Beyond. Until you have been in a packed room and the lights go down, and you hear those immortal words, "Hey You! Don't watch that, what this..." you really will never know what it feels like to be at the centre of the Nutty Universe
- Thommo dancing in a pink tutu on the video backdrop for Swan Lake
- the kilted piper who led the band on for the encore playing Flower of Scotland
- the new songs. NW5 is class and should be released IMHO. Sorry is "different". I liked it, but as has been said before, I think it's a grower.
- the Bed and Breakfast Man (aka John Hasler) was in attendance having made the trip from Edinburgh where he now lives - this will mean nothing to non-Madness fans
- On The Beat Pete - a song from the early days that was a treat to hear live
- Meeting a bunch of mates I've not seen in a while before the gig - Rob W from Fife, Armani Mason, Wee Stoo and Fiona, Paul and Yvonne Stewart, Bob Mackie and Susan, and I think I may have missed people but I can't think - sorry.

Least memorable moments:

- Being relatively sober for this gig, I noticed every mistake. i.e. Lovestruck's missing words, Woody's timing during On The Beat Pete, and some weird vibrating sounds near the start. Since we were right at the sound deck I wasn't sure if the noise was coming from that or the main speakers.
- Sitting at a Madness gig is not to be recommended. It was my first time and I was glad I booked front row seats - it meant I could use the aisle to dance while the twats behind me sat cramped into their wee seats. Some if them never moved the entire gig - what was the point???
- My pockets bursting and my money going everywhere during House of Fun
- Gail turning to me half way through the gig to say all the photos we had taken up to then went nowhere because she had forgotten to put film in. Needless to say that was fixed and over 30 pics were taken in the last 10 minutes.

It was a great night. Laura loved her fist Madness gig and everyone enjoyed it beyond belief. The smiles on the fans faces afterwards said it all. Live, Madness are as good, if not better, than any band in the country at any given time. Age may have matured them, but like a good whisky, they only seem to get better every time.

Roll on Thursday and the boys arriving in Newcastle. I'll be drinking at that one, you can bet on it!

Pictures will follow in good time.

Next gig: Tonight (13th), Manchester, MEN Arena
Colin 8:36 pm | 0 comments |

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Tremble

First day in our new office situated in the West End of Edinburgh. I was first to arrive. I flicked on the lights to an open plan chicken pen. With the lights on it makes it very bright and noisy - not how I like it at all - and it is impossible to concentrate.

The coffee machine is 10 years old and churns out tar, plus I now have to sit opposite the boss and one old guy who does nothing but moan about the work he has to do all day.

By 9.30am the men's loos smelt like a cow shed and sheets of sleet had begun to fall outside. In other words it was a thoroughly miserable start to the week.

Sheets of sleet and snow fell in between strong gusts of Arctic winds today, making it altogether very cold and unpleasant. My feet are suffering most, what with the shitty state my shoes are in.

Not to worry, for tomorrow the Nutty Boys return north to Glasgow. The excitment grows like a far off earthquake, and Scotland awaits!

I can't write any more. I'm too excited.

Colin 10:23 pm | 1 comments |

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Decision

Early to rise again, which was probably a bad move given I was so bloody tired and was heading out in the evening. I ended up going back to bed during the afternoon to get some badly needed kip, then in the evening headed out with Gail and her pal to see the Bootleg Beatles at the Usher Hall.

We had a quick drink in a pub on Lothian Road beforehand, then made our way into the seat-less venue. We went to see the Bootleg Beatles last year, but I didn't think they were as good this time round. I think it maybe had something to do with the repetitive banter on stage - all the same as last year - and the introduction of some really slow and unknown (to me) ballads to the set, in favour of some of the more popular songs.

Still, it was a good night out and they are a fabulous cover band, looking and sounding just like the real article (from what I can tell not having been born till the 70's). The aficionados who were around for The Beatles have been going to see this Bootleg band for two decades now and seem to think they're good, so I'll take their word for it. Certainly they look the part, particularly the Lennon and McCartney actors who look and sound spookily like the real thing.

On Thursday Devon put some questions to me about my feelings and approach to Hunting Jack in an effort to a) understand my inability to decide what to do with it, and b) come to a decision. I've been thinking about them over the past couple of days, and so here are my responses.

What is your vision for the book's future?

Hard to answer. Obviously in an ideal world I would want it to be published traditionally and to form the start of a possible series of books. It would be the basis of future novels revolving around Jackie McCann, how he came to be etc.

So yes, I would want it published. But I don't think it would make it into book form. I don't think it's quite strong enough to be picked up - yet - as much as I love it.

If I compare my writing from Slick to Hunting Jack, I have definitely come on as a writer. I'm more rounded, intense and organised. Hunting Jack was the big learning curve. It was my first attempt when every page was a new experience and every chapter a blind bend. During Slick, I knew what I was doing and I knew where I was going. I have a have better chance at publication now, (though maybe not all the way there), than I do with Hunting Jack.

Are you willing to have it take the time it will take to find the right traditional publisher, or do you want it to be out and about earlier, which, since the e-process tends to be quicker, is what's likely to happen?

I'm an impatient person, especially about indecision. If I could decide one way or the other, the patience would come if I knew where I was going to take it. If I felt absolutely positive that the book was good enough for traditional publication, then I would take more time and be more patient.

I spent nine months writing Hunting Jack, and a further two months revising and editing it. It took five weeks to write Slick, and four weeks to plan and research. There's around three months of research and editing to go. The point being, do I want to invest more time on Hunting Jack when I have moved on and can use my new experiences and knowledge to bring Jackie forward into present-time in a more effective manner?

In terms of your career, do you want HUNTING JACK to be your debut in traditional format?

To expect my first attempt at a novel, which was written originally as an e-serial, to be picked up and published, must surely be asking too much. I know it happens from time to time, but to me? Personally, when I pick up the manuscript something shouts at me saying, "it's not good enough". Or is that just typical writer's mentality?

Based on what I said earlier about me feeling it isn't strong enough, then no. I would want my first novel to be as strong as possible. I think Slick is already in that position. Would I want Slick to be my debut in traditional format? As it stands, yes, more than Hunting Jack.

Is the wait and the search for the right traditional publisher worth it in the bigger picture?

Good question. Is it worth it? Surely it's always worth it, because that's why I'm in the game - to see my work published and so I can look back at a body of work I am proud of. Will I be proud of Hunting Jack as it stands against the quality I can write at now and want to achieve? Perhaps not, but then it can be worked on - I just don't want to work on it right now, but I don't want to see it sitting doing nothing. I want to do other things, maybe work with Jackie on something else, and maybe work on other things more then revisit it again some time down the line.

But in the bigger picture? Well, I would also need to think about what end it might serve. Hunting Jack was my first novel and it was written under the auspice of a bi-weekly e-serial. It served as a major learning experience with it being my first full-length work of fiction. It's been through the mill many times and is a good manuscript and it is publishable, I'm just not sure it's publishable traditionally in it's current state. Would it credit me or hold me back? I think if it was good enough, credit. The question is, should I wait long-term for a traditional publisher, or publish on the internet now?

Is HUNTING JACK a foundation cornerstone for you or one of the other building bricks in the career?

I always saw Hunting Jack as a learning curve, as the novel where I would learn a vast amount about whether I had it in me to a) have the patience and tenacity to complete a draft of a written novel, and b) whether it would be any good.

In the end, I achieved what I set out. I have it in me to write novels, and I think Hunting Jack is pretty good - for a first effort. It could be better in places, and in others, it's sublime in my eyes. I love the characters, and grew into my apprenticeship with Jackie alongside me.

A lot that I went through and experienced with Hunting Jack, I was able to apply and be prepared for in Slick. In other words, it has always been a building brick that I leanrt vastly from. Slick is the cornerstone where I proved I can learn from it and can learn and move fast. The process was much easier, and in that respect, and without the internet, Hunting Jack would probably never have seen the light first time round even with KIC.


I love the story and I love the characters, but I feel this may be clouding my judgement. I don't think Hunting Jack will make it on its own right now. I think I should use it as the learning experience it was and maybe one day, once I have learned and moved on, I can go back to it and work on it. I'm beginning to think of it as the early years of Rebus before he joined the police force, except that I have the background written to a story still to come, that maybe people will one day want to read about. If that makes sense.

With that in mind, should I continue with my plan to submit to e-publishers, bearing in mind it has a good chance of rejection along with everything else? No, I don't think so. So I've decided to leave it and drop my idea of publishing in e-format. I'll wait. It could be years, but I'll wait.

Thanks to Devon for prompting me in this most valuable exercise.
Colin 10:00 pm | 0 comments |

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Day Off

Christmas arrived in the Galbraith household on Saturday. After a usual morning of dancing lessons, coffee and chocolate pastry, writing into notebook (came up with a great idea for a kids short story) and visit to the aquarium shop (bought 3 African Dwarf Frogs for the tank), we all had lunch before heading out to see Happy Feet in the cinema.

It's yet another animated offering for kids but supposedly with adult content. It had its humorous moments; a tap dancing penguin is always bound to be funny to an extent, but the adult content seemed to revolve around a rather heavy handed attempt to ram a simplistic environmental message down our throats. Stop fishing and save the penguin seemed to be about it.

It was good, don't get me wrong, if only for the fact all three of us were out and munching on popcorn and having a carry on, but I've seen better animated films. They seem to be struggling to come up with original ideas ever since Nemo.

Gail had to rush home to get ready for a Christmas night out so Laura and I went and bought the Christmas tree. We picked the one we wanted and took it up the road. Gail put the Star on and left us to decorate it. And I think it's looking spiffing. I'll take a pic and post it Monday.

After what turned out to be a longish day I wound down by entering details and thoughts into the old notebook while watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Simply a fantastic film.
Colin 7:34 am | 1 comments |

Friday, December 08, 2006


A strange thing happened this morning. I bounced out of bed at 5am, got showered, dressed and made my coffee. I sat down and turned on the laptop at half past the hour and went immediately to my WIP folder. I double-clicked the Slick sub-folder and was about to open the manuscript when -

"Hold on Chas!" I said to myself. "Don't you remember?"

And I hadn't. It's not so much that I'd forgotten I had finished the first draft, it was just pure habit that I went through the routine and sat down to work on the manuscript, such as it has been a major part of my life these past five, heavy, consuming weeks.

Strangely, but not unexpectedly, I stared into the void. The deep, dark chasm where novel WIP's don't exist, where no major life consuming pieces of work survive, and where no writer wishes to find themselves. There is nothing but emptiness and blacker than black dark.

So! Onto other things, then. One of my GDR's for this month is to plan a new children's book. I really enjoyed doing Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 in April, and now I want to do Volume 2. I think I am being drawn to it now due to where my mind wants to go after having worked on a crime novel the past month. If I alternate kids projects with crime thrillers I reckon I would be a happy chappy for some time.

I worked on my Scotland's Treasure article for January, which includes two gig reviews I juts had to write about. The main section is all about Christmas and New Year in Edinburgh and I'm hoping to get pictures also.

My internal confusion over where to go with Hunting Jack continues, despite working through the synopsis again today. Yesterday Devon posted some thoughtful and interesting questions. I'm going to try and answer them here in an effort to a) understand my inability to decide and b) come to a decision. But not today - they' ve proved too thought provoking.
Colin 7:19 am | 1 comments |

Nutty UK - Brixton

Madness at the Brixton Academy
Last Night's Review
(Edited from Jonathon Young at the Madness Information Service )

A Tornado struck NW10 in London Today. It's front page news here. And I cant help but think that it was Madness just warming up! A great mix of tunes; some familiar, some new, and some old favourites returning to the set.

Chrissy Boy was on top form and thanked the band for letting him return in a moment of genuine emotion that left Suggs waiting for the joke. The whole band seemed alive to have him back and it made the gig something special. He trashed the guitar on his back at one point and it reminded me of why he was missed, a bit of his wild rock improvisation for a few seconds in songs really adds something.

Some great new visual back drops too, including Thommo dancing in a pink tu-tu!

A few slips up but no one cared, and so much sounded so great. Grey day was dedicated to Dave Robinson who was in the house.

Set List

1. One Step Beyond
2. Girl
3. My Girl
4. Embarassment
5. Lovestruck
6. You Keep Me Hanging On
7. Sun and the rain (introduced on the back drop by Michael Fish!)
8. On The Beat Pete (oh yes!)
9. The Prince
10. Return of the Los Palmas Seven (With Bruce Forsyth impressions)
11. Shut up
12. I Chase The Devil (AKA Ironshirt)
13. House of Fun
14. Rise and Fall
15. Grey Day (dedicated to Dave Robinson in the audience)
16. NW5
17. Bed and Breakfast Man
18. Wings of a Dove (stopped)
19. Baggy Trousers
20. Wings of a Dove
21. Our House
22. It Must Be Love


23. Sorry (Short with no rapping. Played against a playback I think)
24. Madness
25. Night Boat to Cairo


26. Swan Lake

27. Papa's Got a Brand New Pig Bag

Keep watching Madness' You Tube Page for exclusive Madness footage!

Next gig: Sunday 10th December
Dublin, The Point
Colin 7:16 am | 0 comments |

Thursday, December 07, 2006

First Draft Of 'Slick' Complete

Dentist Day today, so even though I've caught up with my sleep I was up a bit later than normal so I could spend a full half hour scrubbing my molars clean. I provided the packed waiting room with some entertainment upon my arrival, however. After I gave my name I went to sit down, but due to the lack of seating in the reception area, I had to squeeze into a double-seater next to an old woman.

I sat down and my left elbow crashed off their tall standing glass cabinet causing it to rock back and hit the wall. As it rocked forward again, the sudden intake of air into everyone's lungs caused a mini vacuum to occur, as we all waited to see if the cabinet was going to tip over and smash. It never, thankfully, and I managed to stabilise it once the shock had passed.

Two old woman, including the one next to me, fought hard to stifle their laughter, and I was glad the dentist called me shortly after so I could hide my blushes in another room. Other than that I got on fine, but need to go back to fix a split tooth next week. Don't remember it breaking, which was weird.

I worked heavily on my 2007 GDR today. I really want to focus in particular things next year now that I am finding the areas that I enjoy writing in most. But while I am comfortable in these genres, I am becoming more aware of the need for me to keep pushing myself into new areas where I am not so familiar. I must stretch myself and I have to include the way I market myself in person and online. I'm planning big things, as you can probably tell. Big strides were taken this year, bigger next.

I complete the first draft of Slick in the evening. The final lines all came naturally and I had started going through my notes when I realised, "wait a minute - this is redrafting." So I stopped at a logical point and pressed Save for the final time this year on the manuscript. It's done. I need to put it away now and take a rest from it. I'll keep adding to my notes and preparing the research, but I will go back to it after the new year and begin the re-writes and interviews. So by March/April I think it should be ready for initial beta-reading.

My focus for the rest of the month is to complete the month's GDR plans, which will satisfy my thirst and prepare me for January's new beginning.

Words today: 411
Final 1st draft total: 76478
Colin 9:42 pm | 2 comments |

Nutty UK

Tonight Madness kick off their UK tour at London's legendary, Brixton Academy.

The sound check took place on stage last night, which you can view by clicking here.

It's a new song - woooo!

The full list of UK dates are:

Thursday 7th December
London, Brixton Academy **SOLD OUT**

Sunday 10th December
Dublin, The Point

Tuesday 12th December
Glasgow, SECC Hall 4
Tickets (Extra capacity available)

Wednesday 13th December
Manchester, MEN Arena
Tickets (Extra capacity available)

Thursday 14th December
Newcastle, Telewest Arena
Tickets (Extra capacity available)

Saturday 16th December
Birmingham, NEC **SOLD OUT**

Sunday 17th December
Bournemouth, BIC **SOLD OUT**

Tuesday 19th December
Brighton, Brighton Centre **SOLD OUT**

Wed 20th December
London, Wembley Arena
Colin 11:18 am | 0 comments |

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Come On Eileen!

I felt absolutely shattered today. Really, really tired. A major sleep is required to catch up on all my early mornings stints.

Got the Hunting Jack synopsis down from eighteen pages to seven. It needs to be about four or five for the submission and as it gets tighter, the harder it gets. I'm still not sure if I'll submit it. I need to do some more research I think. I need more information not so much about the publisher I'm going to submit to, but about the whole e-book versus trad-book thing. "Go with my gut," said Devon in yesterday's post, but my gut feeling is clouded. It's weird.

Did some more work on Slick, adding in a couple of new scenes and researching another. I finally realised why the ending is so crap. It's because it's NOT the ending and another chapter is required to finish it off. Once I realised it was an, "of course it is!" moment. It all suddenly made sense, and so I'll start work on that tomorrow.

The plans are almost finalised for this years Madness UK tour. Click here to see footage of Madness in rehearsals this week. Laura asked me if I was still making her a pair of dungarees for the Glasgow gig. Say what? It's not Dexy's Midnight Runners we're going to see!

Words today: 1347
Colin 9:57 pm | 1 comments |

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gests Only, No Celebrities

The gale force winds have died down at last. Could hardly sleep last night for the noise and as for my poor wee bunnies, well, they must be scared shitless out in it. You'd never know mind you judging by their average output of daily poop.

Took a new, quicker route to work just to break things up a bit seeing since I slept in by an hour (yes - 6.30am is a wasted morning these days).

Can anyone tell me what is important about this man?

Why should he be making a "special stage appearance" at last night's Royal Variety Performance? Two weeks ago his reputation in the UK was as the freak who married Mannelli. Now, because he spent two weeks scratching his bollocks in the jungle for a reality TV programme, he's suddenly everyone's favourite person and that qualifies him to be making special appearances for The Prince of Wales! Am I the only one who doesn't get this shit? Or am I the only one that sees reality TV for what it is - patronising, dumbed down, unimaginative television.

By mid-morning I was stressed with the amount of shit I had to deal with at work. Some people don't seem to understand the concept of "work remits"; the term used to describe what is and what isn't your job. I'm not sure I do either, because no matter how many times I tell some people that "it's not mine" or "I'm not doing it" they still don't seem get it. Or is it me? The new regime permits a certain amount of shit stirring, shit deflecting and shit-thick beaurocracy. Good or bad? Take a wild guess.

I took time away from Slick today. I just wasn't in the frame of mind for it and I didn't want to push it. Instead I worked more on my 2007 GDR and on the cover for Poolside Poetry. I'm still trying to pick a font but I discounted around thirty chosen fonts and now I'm down to about a dozen. It doesn't get any easier though, trying to find the right fit and image.
Colin 9:28 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, December 04, 2006

Eating Italian

I was about to get a nice and early night last when I discovered a programme on one of the cable channels just starting. The History of Punk just couldn't be avoided and I ended up watching it to the end, some ninety minutes later. As a result, I only got five hours sleep and woke up today requiring a fair amount of coffee in me before I could get my eyes open without the use of matchsticks.

Two hours after getting up I reached the end of Slick. The final chapter starts well, but ends crap. I need a better finale so I decided to leave it alone and come back to it. I also decided to go back to the start and go through each chapter (of which there are forty) and update my chapter tracker. I've found this is a good way of highlighting all the main links and making sure the important details are correctly written. It's just a once over really, but the notes I took I'll work on this week. So I'm not shouting that I have completed the first version of the manuscript. Not quite yet. Once the notes are worked through, I'll claim victory.

I worked on other things in the evening. I'm still getting next year's GDR together and I think I may have found a possible market to pitch Hunting Jack to. I'm still not sure though. It's an internet publisher specialising in e-books who have a good reputation for marketing and the editors that work for them. It's tempting because I want Hunting Jack to have a good home. I want it to be back out there and available. With it sitting on disk I can never fully put it top bed once and for all - it always seems like a work in progress.

So I have to think seriously about this. Does it really have that good a chance of being published traditionally? It's been to a dozen agents and been rejected, and while there a lot more I haven't tried I just wonder if for a first effort it's really good enough anyway. Comparing my first draft of Hunting Jack to Slick is like comparing Canneloni to Macaroni. You might not get that. Meantime, I'll prepare the query letter and synopsis and as I do, try and make a decision.

Words today: 1707
Colin 8:54 pm | 2 comments |

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Opened our calendar's and had bacon sandwiches for breakfast this morning while watching Spongebob Squarepants and our weekly dose of Narnia. I know, I'm such a big kid. But Christmas means I can go over the top just as much as the wee ones. Doesn't it?

Did a bit of tidying up before my folks popped in for a wee visit. I got my Christmas present early from them since it is some I've been after for quite a while. A new 17-inch flat-screen monitor for my PC. It looks awesome in the room, makes my desk look much more tidy, allows me to have better arm and wrist posture while I write, and means I am not straining my eyes with the monitor being so close to me.

Wrote another four pages of Slick after dinner. It turned out to be the penultimate chapter. One more to go that I shall complete tomorrow. I won't consider the first draft to be finished though as there are some sections that have to be added in, not so much as fillers, but that are needed for the story to be complete. So although I'm sitting at 73k just now with one chapter left, there is still several thousand to go over all.
Words today: 1536

Before I close off for the day, here some pictures of the new Tropical Fish my Dad brought through from Glasgow for my community aquarium. I now have a new Red Tailed Black Shark, a replacement Blue Ramerizi, my first Jack Dempsey and my first Firemouth chichlids. All are superb specimens and their colours awesome to look at.

Red Tailed Black Shark ©

Blue Ramerizi ©

Jack Dempsey ©

Firemouth ©

Colin 8:14 pm | 1 comments |

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Seven years to this very day I went with a girl I hardly knew on a first date. I got the train through from Glasgow on a freezing cold day and met her at the top of the steps outside Waverley station. We went for coffee, bought some records, then went to the pub. 40p extra for a double. We talked about music. We talked. We got pissed. My kinda girl. We married 9 months and 2 years later.

Back to my normal Saturday routine but I deliberately did not go anywhere near anything that remotely resembled a shop. I really cannot be arsed with shopping at any time of the year and December just proves my point. I cannot stand the browsing, queuing, hanging around, double-browsing and so on and so forth. Every female that reads this post today will now be shaking their head, and muttering to themselves, "typical bloody male."

I am not ashamed.

Stopped by the aquarium shop for a gander. They had Blind Cave Fish in; wee white, almost albino in appearance fishes that stumbled around lost and disorientated their entire lives. I almost bought half a dozen just out of sympathy.

I solved the problem with the filter when I got back by attaching a new adapter that allows air in through a tube. This means the filter can lie under water and instead of sending jets of water out over the surface, it releases streams of bubbles into the water from way below. It means the fish will get healthy water, but I've lost the ripple sound of a mountain stream flowing through the room. Instead it sounds more like a kid blowing through a straw into a glass of Coke.

I decided who it was that gets killed off, kind of, and moved forward with Slick. Despite the decision, I still had some amount of final planning in order to be sure the move into the ending is the way it needs to be in order to fit and be 'real'. Getting there, though the wrapping up bit is tougher than I imagined and nothing like the original I had planned.

Words today: 1334
Colin 10:55 pm | 1 comments |

Friday, December 01, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

I went to bed with a problem last night, which I was hoping to resolve before falling asleep but it never happened. Lennox had just walked in to a house in Leith and found a body shortly after hearing a violent argument while out in the street. This person was shot through the chest and now appears to be pan bread (dead). The problem is, of the three people who were in the room arguing, two had a gun and so it could be any of them who copped it!

Ronnie Glover (protagonist), Lesley Fenwick (Ronnie's girlfriend - who had a gun), and John Fenwick (divorced husband of Lesley Fenwick who can't let go - also had a gun and was holding them hostage). There's a lot more to it than that, but if I told you it would ruin the whole story should you ever come to read it.

But the body has to be one of them. Killing any one of them would add a new dimension to the story, and any one of them would provide their own share of excitement and alter the end of the book in many ways. Do I kill my main character or have him seriously injured? Do I kill his enemy, John, and have Ronnie run off to a new life with Lesley? Or do I kill off Lesley, and have Ronnie and John chasing one another?

As you can see, it's complicated, and it all has to be decided against the backdrop of a police investigation, the murder of two young women, an arson attack and an international security incident.

Bet you fancy reading the book now though, eh?

I also had to undertake some maintenance on my aquarium last night. The filter has become almost blocked restricting the flow of water through so I cleaned it out and did a partial water change while I was at it. While I was cleaning it out (you should see the gunk) I went and threw out the wee stopper for the end of the pipe that shoots sprays of water over the surface. So I had to setup a new way of getting the water moving and oxygen into the tank. I'm not happy with it - it's just not fast enough though there is oxygen getting in. I may have to get a full replacement. No oxygen = dead fish.

No early start today. Not through complacency, but because I had to do the school run this morning so I saw no point in getting up at 5am. I rewarded myself with an extra couple of hours in bed before dropping off Laura and heading in to work.

Before leaving there was much excitement in the house. Gail will probably kick my bollocks for saying this, but there are certain small traditions I like to keep going from my own childhood to this day. One of them is that I must have an Advent calendar. I bought Laura a Bratz one, and I have a traditional Homer Simpson one. It's a wee ritual in December; get washed and dressed, breakfast with a cartoon, then the grand opening and comparing what picture and chocolate we got.

Ah, to be a kid again!

I think the elation of completing NaNo came on the 20th when I hit the 50k point. Yesterday's completion of 70k on the last day of NaNo was a personal target I was glad to meet. But nothing stops just because November is over. The end of the novel is beckoning. 20,000 words I reckon will see to that, so I must keep the pace up. I'll be using the wee blue meter over on the left to track progress from now on.

I did quite a bit of work on my GDR for 2007 today, incorporating some new prompts from Devon Ellington. It's a lot different from this year's layout and hopefully will help me target them more effectively.

Words today: 0

December's GDR

* Finish writing Slick (est. 20k)
* Finish edits for Wide Awake
* Write some new fiction
* Get back on top of submissions list
* Follow up on three outstanding Stella submissions
* Follow up on four outstanding Hunting Jack submissions
* Find a new market for Hunting Jack

* Publish Poolside Poetry - still to finalise book cover and font
* Write more poetry - develop idea for children's book for next year

* Complete work on Scotland's Treasure for January column - Aberfoyle article binned. Might
still include the Blockheads gig review
* Contact Scottish poet for re-arranged interview

Marketing and Promotion
* Prepare press release for Poolside Poetry for when it goes
* Complete cross-promotion with Fife B&B for Fringe Fantastic - no hurry, can even wait
until early next year
* Keep website up to date
* Re-analyse promotion of FF and PP - anything new I can do?

Reading and Research
* Finish reading Flesh and Blood by John Harvey novel

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR
* Put together final 2007 GDR Plan
Colin 10:54 pm | 0 comments |