Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In Short

Some days I hate my work more than most. And it's at times when I feel so low at the sadness of what once used to be a great working environment, that I reflect on who I am and what I want from my life.

I want to be a writer.

I am a writer.

I want to be a successful writer.

I have tasted success.

I want to be a really successful writer.

Does that mean money?

To an extent. It means satisfaction and recognition from my peers is more important.

I want to leave a bodyof work that will be remembered.

Does that mean fame?

Possibly. I prefer infamy.

Success cannot equal obscurity.

Obscurity does not equal success.

How do I make that it all happen?

Work my skinny white arse off.

Don't take no for an answer.

Persevere.

Grow a thicker skin.

Learn from others. No room in this business for ego.

The result shall be --- escape from rat race? Personal satisfaction? A happy death?

I wonder how I will die. Spike Milligan always said he wanted an Elephant to fall on him. I quite like the idea of that. Maybe a Hippo then. Or a very large Otter.

How morbid.

My sentences are very short today. So is my attention span.

Goodnight.

I love you all.

Colin 11:22 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Morning After

As I write this it is 11:20am on Monday morning. I made it to work, but still feel the weekend's Stag party flowing through my veins. The hangover has still to kick in, suggesting levels of intoxicated blood are still higher, rather than lower.

I'm not going to go into the finer details, suffice to say it was a great weekend. The drinking started at 07:55 on the GNER service from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, and ended late last night at around 22:30. By lunchtime on Saturday merriness was everywhere as I was sitting on the wrong side of four lagers, three Guinness and two vodkas. By the time the light-weights of the group joined us, the rest of us were into the zone of rubber.

Many of Aberdeen's hostelry's were frequented, two of which converted churches still with the original architecture and tainted-windows. Nolon was made to parade Union Street in a gorilla outfit, which was surprisingly life-like, leading to hallucinagenic nightmares for some of us later on in the dark hours. And there was positively no eyebrow shaving or pubic vandalism. Promise.

After a solid day doing it all again yesterday - after the groom left early to get back down the road to Perth (my feelings on that one were aired at the time) - the three remaining stalwarts from Edinburgh; me, Steve and Stuart, decided to continue the party onwards. We drank the train bar dry and headed for The Hebrides bar next to Waverly station, where Scottish music and banter was aplently.

There were various acts throughout the afternoon, but the one that stood out was a man called Andy Chung. The entertainment value went through the roof as he rattled off joke after joke, to-ing and fro-ing with the audience and mixing it all up with some humorous Scottish ditties and classic songs of the Celt. The unanimous opinion was to look him up again soon for another great night.

I got home in the nick of time at around 22:30 just before my kidneys leapt up through my neck and tore out my tongue.

And now this morning I feel the pain. We did what was expected and a little bit more, the price of course being dodgy guts, sore heads and extreme lethargy for the next 24 hours. By rights I should have taken the day off, but I'm off on Thursday because of my monthly get together with Mikey and Craig this Wednesday. Yet more drink, the thought of which doesn't fill me with joy at this juncture, although I'm sure that come the time ---

By lunchtime I was famished, but because of the Bank Holiday nothing was open in the way of decent food shops. I had to resort to the local Esso garage with which to replenish myself. Not the most nutritious but certainly satisfying stodge given the amount of liquid that has passed through my inner-canals over the past two days.

There's not much else to add. Work was more awful than usual, conspiracies breaking galore to keep my spirits down (no pun intended). The afternoon went horribly slow and I left at the usual time for home.

I spent spent the evening lying on my bed, watchnig the TV or reading. It had to be done. But, yes, it was all worth it. A great weekend for my future bro-in-law and a good send-off to his single life. He'll be a good addition to the family, once he learns to handle the morning bevy.

Roll on the wedding day. I cannae wait.

Colin 10:50 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, May 26, 2006

Another Fine Man Down

Stand back, grip the wall and prepare for some incredible news - I got up at 6.30am!!

I know, I know. Remarkable, given my rising times of late. I seem to come and go in cycles. After a batch of late starts, I click into early mode and as soon as my eyes open, that's it. Awake. Problem is this often coincides with a bout of insomnia, which I seem to be prone to. I think it could be related to my writing life - all that I am achieving and working on makes my brain fit and tight and healthy, just like an Olympian Chess player's might be.

Apologies for that last paragraph. Pile of pish.

Here's a joke to lighten the mood.



By lunch my mood had dampened somewhat when news came through of the death of Desmond Dekker, the reggae legend responsible for classic reggae hits like The Israelites, It Mek, You Can Get It If You Really Want, King Of Ska, 007 and Pretty Africa. He can also be credited for influencing, among others, Madness.

Desmond played a pivotal role in bringing Jamaican Ska into popular music from the mid 60's to the late 70's. Sadly, he was about to embark on a European tour which would have brought him to Scotland in August. He may be gone, but his music will live forever.

One of his tracks is on my radio to the left of this page. It's called It Mek, a pleasant reggae classic, ideal for cutting your Dekker teeth if you haven't done so already. So turn up your volume and listen to the man.

Rest in peace, Desmond. Today Britain unites with Jamaica and mourns your loss, but we are all thankful for what you gave us.


Didn't get any work done today at all. When I got home I had to clean the rabbit hutch. There was no way they could make it through the weekend. And I clipped Milly's nails again now that they have receded sufficiently. She's much better when you do it alone with her rather than with everyone gathering around putting pressure on her. There was still the awkwardness but she got through it without excavating all over me so progress is being made.

Then I got my gear ready for tomorrow. Twelve cans of Tennents for the train (for 3 of us!), a toothbrush and my mobile charger. Anything else I've missed? Don't think so - it is a Stag party after all.

Colin 10:41 pm | 0 comments |

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rehashing The Old

I had to go to a meeting in another building this morning. I was running late and never managed to get time for my morning coffee - most annoying. Fate was smiling though, when after the meeting finished I was approaching my office and the fire alarm went off. To avoid having to wait in line with all the drones for the building to be declared safe, I about-turned and went to the coffee shop, where I enjoyed a lovely hot cappuccino in the window and watched the world go by.

I worked more on the new section of Hunting Jack and edited what I had wrote yesterday. As I've said before, it must be seamless but as I am now finding, my writing voice has changed since I first wrote this story, and so it may be more obvious where new prose has been inserted if I am not careful.

Also got my July column for The Scruffy Dog Review underway. Still need something else to cover and I'm hoping to do something with the theatre again. Might even be able to involve Aberdeen somehow seeing as I'll be there this weekend, but it is for a Stag so that's most unlikely.

It's funny, but I am so in the habit of carrying my notebook around with me, no matter where I am or what I'm doing I still write in it if something crops up that I simply must remember. Even if I'm in a pub full of yah-yah's (which happens a lot as this IS Edinburgh), I often sneak off and take notes about a conversation overhead or character who is in the bar.

I made a submission to This Is It magazine, a literary journal I hold fond in my heart as it was the first publication to publish work of mine. Once a Borderer, if you fancy a read. An upcoming issue concerns the theme "apologies" so I sent them Daffodils.

I gave it a read-through before I sent it, the first time I have done so in many months. It's a good story; tense and atmospheric, and it reached the final selection stage with NFG. But I spotted so much wrong with it this time round. I ended up editing it quite substantially and now I like it even more.

I might do that with all my unpublished work depending how I rate it. There are some stories that appeal to me more than others, and these I'll do first.

Here's another joke for you to burst your sides with. Until tomorrow.


Colin 12:16 pm | 4 comments |

Monkeying Around

Animal love - monkey style!



Colin 10:45 am | 0 comments |

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Adventures In Leith Library

An early morning phone call with the news that snooker would not be on tonight was met with unexpected delight. It meant I could plan a trip to Leith Library for three important reasons. 1- Research the feel of the place, the architecture and its history. I need to convey the library as it was back in 1995, not as it is today. 2- Check out what books and resources they have (would have had in '95) that would help anyone wishing to find out anything about the Glasgow Ice-Cream wars. 3- Join Leith Library (I am still only a member of Glasgow libraries after never getting round to it).

Without this kind of research I can't write another word, so the importance of gathering all this information is crucial. I still have Ian Rankin's words of advice echoing in my ear about the importance of research, and of "painting the picture with as little words" to make it truly memorable. "You can never do enough research," he said.

After work I drop Laura off at Brownies and took a walk through Leith to parts I rarely ever pass. Along the far length of Great Junction Street, one does tend to sense you are moving into bandit country, as the frequency of jakie's and hash-smoking pram-pushers increases. Over the bridge spanning the Water of Leith and past the decrepit snooker hall, several dodgy bars and housing estates that look straight out of an Irvine Welsh novel, you eventually come to the junction with Ferry Road. At the corner of this is a grand looking building, made of sandstone and circular in shape, and which is currently under renovation. This is the old Leith Theatre and is due to make a come-back this year sometime.

Adjoining this on the left is Leith Library, of similar architecture and grandness. I went in and had a scout about, acting out the role of Jackie McCann. Where would he go first to find out about the Wars and what questions would he ask the old lady behind the counter. There was hardly anything, in fact the only book to contain any reference I could find was a book about Italian immigrants. The best book they had, Frighteners, I already own, but it was out on loan.

The only way to access archived newspapers was over the internet. The Scotsman, Glasgow Herald and Evening Times all having superb archived stories from the past. The internet was only installed in Leith Library in 2003, however, eight years too late for our Jackie.

And so I have had to use some artistic license and create a micro-fiche room. This is the place where Jackie's past will be realised and the truth (or part of it) revealed to the reader. This is where the true background of his family will become apparent and alter the feel of the story, making it's meaning clearer to my original intention.

I have to say it feels superb to be writing new fiction involving Jackie. To be creating a new story arc with him and Katie is just superb; it really does compel me to think more about doing more with these characters. First things first though, because after I've finished this draft, I'll be going to work on my first and oldest WIP, A Friend To Die For.

Devon's comment yesterday about characters just turning up made me think more on the subject. In the case of Victor and Derek, these characters are superb examples of people who just turned up during the writing of the novel. They literally just wandered onto the scene either by a piece of monologue or simple action. They needed no design, because they were what they were as soon as they came into view. Even Jackie himself was pre-determined. He needed no design or refinement - he just existed.

This is one of the magical things about writing. you can't explain the feeling, you have to feel it. Characters can be created left, right and centre, but the more forced they are, the more like cardboard they will be to the reader and the less satisfaction I will get from developing them. The ones that just appeared are the most interesting, have more to say and are true characters with character.

So anyway, I spent a good hour browsing the books and reference sections. They have loads of historical books on Scotland, which I know I will make good use of in the future. I got some application forms to join the library and spoke to one of the women about the history of the place before I left to collect Laura.

I started writing everything up as soon as I got home and by midnight Hunting Jack had a couple of thousand brand new words.

Colin 12:24 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tourists In Our Home Town

School in-service day today (what the hell is that?) so we took advantage of the mild weather for a family day out. We took a tour round the city in an open topped bus (Laura's idea). It was sunny at first, then windy, then it rained. I was left on my own in the open part of the upper deck as the rain came pouring in. I braved it out but it was good fun. Even better was when the sun came out again five minutes later and I had the only dry seat left on the top deck.

The route took us along Princes Street, up to Toll Cross, through the Grassmarket around the Old Town, down to Holyrood and that big Council farce of a building, under Arthur's Seat (but anyone can sit there), back into town and down to the New Town. We filmed some of it as we went and it was good fun, though none of it entirely surprising.

Most of the other people on the bus were either elderly or Chinese and the on-board commentary was uninspiring with the odd token joke thrown in lined with "I'm fed up repeating this same old crap."

When it was over we stopped in Princes Street gardens and ate our lunch under the semi-warmth of the sun. Then we decided to go and see the Fizzers exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. There we saw hundreds of caricatures of iconic Scottish figures past and present. Laura had been given a quiz sheet in which she had to find the people described by reading the plaques next to the frames. Needless to say I ended up doing most of it, running around looking for pictures in amongst all the other school kids. I'm such an embarrassment, you know.

Both of these activities formed a great way to have a family outing. Culture, local interest and outdoor eating. They also served as excellent research for July's Scruffy Dog Review column.

After dinner I worked on Hunting Jack. I have reached the point where the new chapter has to be written and inserted seamlessly into the plot. The ripples behind the action are minimal as there is a logical link, but the after-effects will spread far and wide and change the entire taste of the story as it concludes, compared to the original version.

There isn't as much research as I had originally planned because when I came to do it I realised that when Jackie researches the Ice-Cream Wars of 1983, he will be doing it in much the same way as I did for this novel. The only real difference is the location. And so the intricate weaving of the new text has begun. I've no idea how many words this will finally contribute to the end tally, both directly and indirectly, but it is bound to have a large impact on the rest of the tale. Of course there is always the possibility that a new character walks into his life that I had not planned (as with Vic and Derek Laidlaw - both of them just "happened"). That would really put the spanner in the works!


Colin 1:50 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, May 22, 2006

Fame In Tennessee

Amazingly, though probably due to the child-free house, the Indian and the joy of completing Stella last night, I was in a cracker of a mood this morning. I even wore my new shoes. It all came to a thundering halt when I discovered The Mouth in full flow on my arrival to the office. He was churning out a constant stream of loud nonsense, intermittent laughs, insane giggles and a medley of high and low pitches, all in the one sentence. His wife must have the patience of a Saint.

Today is the anniversary of the greatest day of my life (apart from my wedding day - obviously - of course - naturally). It is the day that saw the culmination of all my dreams, with enough cherries on top to feed a small aviary. And it all happened on one of the most glorious summer days I have ever had the joy to behold.

The location: Camden Town, London, NW1
The venue: The Dublin Castle pub
The occasion: Madness' secret gig to mark 25 years in the biz

At the time, I wrote a full write-up of this day and put up a load of photo's and videos on my now defunct Magnificent 7 website. For this week though, I have re-uploaded this content for your viewing pleasure.

Click here to experience Madness at the Dublin Castle (videos and images included).

To summarise, (because the tale is 7.5k long), I flew to London with a pal on a whim and we made our way to Camden. We met the band, drank with them, met some old pals, and drank with them too. We met Clive Langer and some of Crunch! And we got so jolly on the drink it was merciless. Madness played their first gig in the Dublin Castle for 25 years, much like the Beatles did at the Cavern, which is why it is the Holy Mecca for Madness fans. It is a pilgrimage to go there and taste the atmosphere. So seeing the band playing in the back room in front of 100 lucky punters was the dream of all dreams.

I feel like crying just thinking about it.

I worked on chapters 24 through to 29 of Hunting Jack; the central section and what I term as the u-turn chapters of Jackie's life in the book. In this section he reaches the ultimate depths to where a human can go; homeless, hungry, shabby and of ill-health. All soul-searching has finished and he has accepted that he is at rock bottom. The only way him is up and perhaps that's the good thing. Perhaps he needed to reach rock bottom before he actually did something for himself for a change.

After dinner played with the rabbits for half an hour. Pippin found herself in the bad books after she was kissing me on the chin and bit into my lip. The wee blighter drew blood and she knew by the way I pulled back I was not happy. She immediately calmed down and sat on my belly looking at me, occasionally licking my hand as if to apologise. How could I stay mad at those dark wee eyes?

I received an email from my friend Paul over in Tennessee. He went to Scottish Games in Gatlinburg with his wife at the weekend, and while there watched a band play, to whom there is a poem about in my chapbook, Fringe Fantastic. They appear on page 24 (National Portrait) and again at the end in the images section. Apparently they are called Albannach and can be found at www.albannachonline.com

Well Paul happened to have my book on him at the time and he approached one of the band members after the gig and showed it to him. He then took the book back stage where my poem was read to the rest of the assembled band by the drummer (Jamesie) who appears in the pictures. I'm delighted to say they loved the pictures and the poem went down a treat - they all loved it. I look forward to hopefully seeing them again at the Festival this year and I will introduce myself.



Colin 8:46 pm | 1 comments |

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Stella Comes To Fruition

I enjoyed a longer lie this morning in a quiet house, which was lovely. With the weather nicely warm and sunny after some heavy overnight rain, full use was being made of the garden by the family, which meant a rare silence in the house.

After a shower, coffee and bacon sandwich I went to get the Sunday papers then returned to work in the garden. I cut the lawn and trimmed back the overhanging hedges that entwine from the wall leading to the next street. After yesterday's work, the place is looking pretty tidy after the winter.

It's great having a garden, I have to admit. I remember working in my parents, but that was a long time ago now. I've lived in a few flats since I left home and the nearest I ever came to a garden was a cactus plant on top of the telly.

But now we have a modest but nice garden. It's secluded and sheltered, which means in the summer it gets very hot under the sun. Ideal for barbecues, it is also a great place to spend time working when you can grab a few minutes. Which is why I like it. My mind wanders when I'm using my hands and ideas pop up all over the place like Meercats on the landscape of my mind. I've yet to spend time writing in the garden; late summer evening appeals most for that idea.

I spent some time playing with Mopsy and Pippin in the afternoon. They seem to have taken a real likeness to the taste of my skin. I'm not sure if it is because they are female, but they seem to love licking my hands, arms and face. Gail says I shouldn't encourage it but I can't help it - I'm in love!

Late afternoon I began work on the final leg of Stella. I completed all the edits, circling the areas that I need to expand and divulge on because I need a different hat on to the editing one. It was dinner time anyway so we sent Laura to her Grans for the night and as soon as she was dropped off I picked up the phone and ordered an Indian. I went for a Lamb Chana Puri starter and a Lamb Madras with pilau rice and nan bread. I was totally stuffed, but one hundred percent satisfied.

Once the food was out the way I got back into Stella. Not literally, you understand, I'm a married man! I worked on the areas requiring expansion or restructuring and it took me until 1am to get it finished. There are just a few geographical references to take care of and a couple of double-checks and confirmations for it to be complete.

The story of Stella covers many parts of the world in such a small space of time (the story comes in at about 16,000 words). Amsterdam, Prague, New York City, London, Morocco - all these places play a vital part in the story. I want to give it one more read through against the backdrop to the album it is based on; Stella by Yello.

The tunes must match the plot in mood and meaning. I have used a lot of artistic license but the album has been begging to be written as a story for years, ever since I first heard it back in the eighties. This story has been a long, long time in coming to fruition. I'm glad I finally sat down and wrote what has been in my mind, each time I have listened to the album since 1988.

And now it is an entity in my hand; real words on paper with real characters and a fully linked story. I'm proud of it and why not?

As for publication, I'm not sure how to progress with this. Should I remove the link with the album to allow me to pitch the story as a traditional novella? I don't think I could do that because the essence of the story came from within the music. It doesn’t feel ethical and just doesn't sit right unless I follow my instinct first.

My first instinct is to contact the band themselves. Yello's albums were recently released as part of a remastering programme so there is a marketing possibility here that is relevant. The band are still active to my knowledge so I think a practical advance made to the band and their management could be in order.

Even if all I get from them is a "thank you, that's very nice," I'll have satisfied my curiosity as to what they think about it. If they don't want to follow it up, then I'll go the normal route giving them a credit in the book.

Bottom line is, I am now in the market for a publisher.

Colin 10:50 am | 1 comments |

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bunny Breath

With Gail staying over at her pals I had it all to do this morning. Through the action of a vivid dream I now fail to remember, Laura came stumbling into the room at 6am asking if it was late enough to get up. When she discovered the time, she returned to play in her room for a couple of hours while I dozed lightly, unable to grab onto the deep unconscious I had been lifted so unceremoniously from only moments before.

Breakfast and showers were had then it was off to dancing (her, not me). The rain made this a hazardous journey but before long I had dropped her off and was on a bus heading up Leith Walk. I bought a couple of books from the 3 pound pile while browsing in Fopp. Paul Auster's, Oracle Night, which has been on my list for a while. It's not his latest but I need to read this to catch up with his work and get my Auster fix.

I also got The Outsider by Albert Camus. It's a translation at 110 pages, but it was the first line that captivated me into buying it; "Mother died today. Or yesterday, I don't know."

What a fantastic opening line! Why doesn't the protagonist know? Who is he and what internal conflicts exist to provoke such a statement from a man who (should be) is in mourning? I have to say I can't wait to read this one so I'm bumping it up my Pending pile.

On the way home I bought some toys for the bunnies, because after all a bored rabbit is a naughty rabbit! While cleaning out their hutch last night I found this out the hard way. I had placed them in an aerated cardboard box while I saw to replenishing their home and I turned around to see Pippin half out the box, which was resting on top of a chair. I ran towards her and caught her mid-air as she fell. I put her back and close the lid for their safety.

Cleaning Milly's hutch this afternoon was much easier. I put her in the same box and gave it a full overhaul, this time placing a payer of newspaper underneath to give her more warmth since she is the one stuck outside in the garden.

I decided to dig up some worms to feed the tropical fish and ended up weeding and turning the entire garden while I was at it. Brownie points all round, which can't be bad.

When Gail came back we got the bunnies out for a play. All three of us sat on the couch and let them bound around on us. Naturally I got peed on but both rabbits seemed to take a likeness to the skin on my hand and arms, licking me all over. Pippin then went a step further and started to lick clean my face, ears and nose. Ever wondered what rabbit breath smells like? Not as bad as you might think but still enough to put you off your liver casserole.

I worked for a while on the wedding poem, and after sundown I got out the laptop and got to work on Stella. I worked until 3am and got to about half way through the story, updating the manuscript with all the amendments made to the print-out. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, Monday at the latest, I'll have a story ready to be sent out to some readers.

Colin 10:18 am | 0 comments |

Friday, May 19, 2006

Batter-Coated Dinners

Despite being up until after 1am last night, I felt great this morning. I think the fact that it is a Friday has overtaken all other negative emotions and elevated me into supreme good mood mode.

No visits to Clark's at lunch; far too much work on in the office believe it or not but I did manage to get away for about four o'clock.

Gail was out for the night so me and Laura walked round to the chippie for dinner. Lovely batter-coated dinner with chips; totally unhealthy but totally satisfying. It's good to indulge oneself every now and then.

Worked on Stella and the wedding poem during the evening with the TV on in the distant background. That's the good thing about editing from paper (aside the creative and editorial benefits), it gets you away from the computer for a bit and changes the scenery.

I ended up watching Falling Down, which took me to 2am. It came on just as I was about to turn off the lights. That's the film where Michael Douglas plays the office bloke who loses the plot while stuck in traffic.

We've all been there and I can totally relate, though I don't think going on a gun rampage in MacDonald's is quite the limits I would go to. Well, you'd have to get me inside a MacDonald's first of all, something I'm never going to do again after seeing the documentary movie, Supersize Me. That film, quite literally, put me off the food that can be purchased from that place.

I'd much rather have a lovely batter-coated dinner with chips.


Colin 5:38 pm | 0 comments |

Thursday, May 18, 2006

1 Step Forward, 2 Holy Steps Back

Got myself a new mobile phone through the 'phone-for-life' scheme. Once a year I get an upgrade (if I want it) and as it's been two years since my last. I plumped for the Nokia 6280 .


Highlights of this little 3G gem include a 2 mega-pixel camera, in-built flash and photographic options, high resolution video cam, mp3 player, 64Mb flash card, FM radio, TV and of course all the usual suspects that you would normally expect to get on a telephone; WAP, Bluetooth, organiser, ability to call people up!

The advance multimedia will allow me to take superior photographs for my writing projects, and of course coupled with the video cam it will provide excellent images of gigs and so forth. The radio I use daily on my way to and from work, as I do with the MP3 player, and the TV I'm giving it a trial month (it came with a one month free option for Sky) so I'll see how that goes after I've used it.

All in all it's a nifty little number and it didn't cost me a bean!

I decided I have been slowing up with Stella and Hunting Jack. So to divert my attention somewhere else for a bit, and in order to keep up the motivation and energy levels, I turned my attention back to the work I've been doing for the reading for my sister's wedding this July.

It will definitely be in the form of a poem, the focus of which will be love and reflective of the personalities of both my sister and her husband-to-be, Nolon. I have to have at the title for her by Saturday at the very least (so the programmes can go to print), but I think I know what it is to be called. More later - I need to finalise it in my head first.

Speaking of Nolon, it's his Stag Party Part 1 next weekend. Since many of us are unable to make it to the main stag over in Lithuania, he's having a Scottish one. It will see a small troop of us heading for Aberdeen for a mega-swally; a trip I have to say, I'm quite looking forward to.

My shoes are almost kaput. The right sole is now so bad, over the course of one day I wore through a brand new pair of socks and had to walk through Leith on the way home yesterday with my bare sole touching concrete.

When I took my shoes and socks off later on, I discovered a small black circle on the ball of my right foot where the hole was.

Why haven't I worn my new shoes to work yet? Well, because they are too nice to wear to this shite-hole. I'm going to get another pair of cheap sturdy numbers to take care of that. I'll need to be quick before I run out of socks though.

Or am I talking pish?

Quick heads up to a couple of people I know who are really going through the mill at the moment.

Devon, if you are reading this then try and stay strong. There are a lot of us behind you and there's no need to tell you we'll jump to join arms if you need us to. I'm thinking about you and hoping it will all work out.

Dee Rimbaud is going through a tough time as well and as a result is having an art clearance sale. You can view some his spectacular creations over at www.thunderburst.co.uk and if you like any you can make a bid for them by email. Hope it all works out, Dee.

Colin 2:07 pm | 2 comments |

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Soft Hands

Monday's rant on underage sex and child-birth reminded me of a cartoon I once saw. I went digging and found it.



Okay so it applies to Scousers but it could be from anywhere in the UK. Not so far from the truth in this day and age.

Colin 1:28 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Long Day

My recently ordered Too Hot CD called Time Flies arrived in the post this morning. I stuck it on the player full blast as soon as Gail had left for work and made a coffee. It looks to be an excellent album, but their earlier stuff is looking far superior. I never got a chance to listen to all of it properly but there's nothing like some Ska in the morning to get the heart started.

I penned a couple of rebellious emails in work, both to my manager explaining my "disgust" at recent requests and management policies. They always go down well and it's fun watching them have to respond without showing any emotion. My confidence in them is totally assured, however, because of their recent attendance on the in-house management course entitled, 'How To Manage Difficult Teams'.

One of my work colleagues logged onto my blog this afternoon. I never knew about it until I heard The Upsetters blaring out from her PC. We've only just had the sound cards activated in our PC's so we can watch corporate brainwashing broadcasts, which they've given us headsets to listen to - but she never had hers plugged in. Oh, what a scream. Not laughed like that for ages.

Played with Mopsy and Pippin when I got home. Milly, the Guinea Pig has become quite aggressive lately, which we originally put down to her being moved outside. One look at the nails on her back feet told us a different story, though so we decided we should trim them.

I held her in my arms while Gail snipped her nails. She didn't like it one bit. We were shown how to do it and researched into it as well, so we were confident in doing it, but we had been warned that this particular GP didn't like being tampered with. The poor wee thing was biting away at me and then she started doing jobbies in my arms. And I mean a lot of jobbies followed by a lake of pee. I was covered in it; my arms, hands and jeans were ringing. The poor wee soul had totally lost it so I brought it all to a halt. She was clearly not enjoying the experience but it had to be done.

After throwing all my clothes into the washing machine and showering off, I tried to work on Stella, but couldn't get into it. I did manage a chapter of Hunting Jack. It's getting slower now because I'm approaching where the new scene is to be written. I want it to flow seamlessly, but I also want it to add as much as possible to the plot. The ripples when I come out the other end are going to be huge and almost every page will need altered in some way to cater for the huge splash this scene is going to make. All part of the fun though!

I was so tired in fact, I ended up going to bed at about 10pm. Gail needed help with a project for her work, so I ended up getting involved with that for an hour.

Long day. Tomorrow will be longer.

Colin 11:07 am | 1 comments |

Monday, May 15, 2006

Jack The Pillock

Dreary start to the day. Dark skies and rain everywhere matching the mood I'm in on most Monday's when the realisation of another week in Hell is about to commence. Sometimes, one must admit to themselves their own limits and learn to live with it. I get that a lot round here.

Since I'm in the mood for an argument, here's a thought. Why is Jack McConnell fannying around promoting Scotland as the bees-knees, lapping up all the glory over his amendments to our social structure and spending time sucking up to American billionaire Donald Trump, when this is the kind of thing we have to read about in our newspapers.

The Scotsman - Youngest Mum Ever

It's about an 11-year old schoolgirl from west Lothian, who got pregnant to a 15-year old boy and is saving up her pocket money to support the baby! Why, she's even toying with the flippant idea of taking on a paper round to pay for all those nappies and bottom wipes.

The girl has said: "I get £10 pocket money every week so I'm putting it in the bank and I've managed to save about £60 so far.

Obviously this girl and her family knows something that the rest of us don't, and that is it isn't terribly expensive to bring up a child. A baby doesn't really need the support of a responsible family around it.

Maybe if she chucked her 20-fag-a-day habit and asked her mother to dole out some more heroin from her flat instead of taking it herself, they might be able to afford a pram that can double as a cot.

It's an absolute fucking disgrace. This girl fell pregnant after getting pissed with her mates and smoking cannabis. She then had sex with the boy, who has since been charged with statutory rape, and now she is heavily expecting. She's already quit school (she's 11 remember) after getting into fights with her fellow pupils.

Unsurprisingly she has been warned that the child could be taken into care. I mean she's only a baby herself - two years older than my own daughter who still plays with dolls and paint brushes and thinks that Lego is still a pretty good idea. How can she possibly be emotionally ready to take on the burden of raising a kid? "But her family can help her," I hear you say. "But her Mum's a junkie in denial", I retort. The situation just gets worse with every passing sentence.

I suppose the only clever thing that little girl has done is to sell her story to The Sun newspaper, who predictably are taking a caring stance while using it to generalise the poor state our education system and social structure in this country is.

As usual the one person who will suffer most is the unborn. He or she is being born into the most dreadful of situations, being in the middle of a tug of war between the social services and her family at one end, and drugs and alcohol at the other.

But it's okay, because Scotland is "vibrant, modern place to live," according to Jack McConnell. I can't help but wonder if some of the money that was wasted on that awful council building at the foot of The Mile had been put into some form of sex education, then that little girl might still have some choices left in her life, and her baby a future.

End of rant.

I have installed a radio (to the left of the page) with some reggae for you to listen to. It's got a small selection of some my favourite Jamacican Ska tracks and I intend on uploading more of my favourite music in the coming weeks . I was thinking of having themed weeks to link in with certain events happening around the world and also for requests for certain bands to be played in a weekly slot. Let me know if you like it and if you have any requests for tunes, send them to me at colin@colingalbraith.co.uk

Didn't get much done in the evening other than updating my blog. I tried to work on Stella and Hunting Jack but was just too tired for any of it. My eyes were hurting, like the tendons were strained at the back of my eyeballs. I ended up going to bed early with something to read.

Colin 10:43 am | 0 comments |

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Introducing...

I got to bed at 4:15 in the morning last night and yet found it difficult to catch up with my sleep. Well, an out-of-time internal body clock and the fact Laura was having screaming tantrums out in the front garden didn't help either. That was the first thing I heard when it woke me up. Easy like a Sunday morning?

The new bunnies made it through the night peacefully and seem to be settling in fine. They don't mind being handled but I don't want to overstress them by getting them out of the cage all the time. Once they get used to us they'll be more confident, but you can see it growing already just by spending time with them.

We had them in the conservatory bounding around, sniffing the air and the walls and generally looking like cute little balls of fur. It's great to have them in the house. I feel really happy.

We also decided on names for them. And so with no further ado, I'd like to introduce you to:



Pippin


Mopsy



I wanted to post a picture of Gail holding Pippin but she wouldn't let me. Even though it's a really great picture of my wife holding a tiny wee bunny, she thought it too intrusive because our kitchen hasn't been fitted yet and nobody is to see until it's done.

Maybe I'll post a picture of us on our wedding day. She's never looked finer than she did on that day, I can tell you.

Mopsy and Pippin

Mopsy next to a mug to give an idea of size

Giving Mopsy a stroke


Giving Pippin a stroke


It was raining while these pics were getting taken so I'll get some pics of Milly all on her own and post these later.

On a literary front I edited three more chapters of Stella, but that's about all I managed to get through. Tidying the house took up the afternoon gaps and I never managed to get the manuscript out in between hovering, cleaning and making dinner.

A man's work is never done!

Colin 11:24 am | 2 comments |

Saturday, May 13, 2006

48 Hours

I woke up feeling awful and suffering more than I have after a bevy for a long time.

There were many blanks and many utterings like; "oh no!" or "oh dear!"

I had blue ink all over my face and I found a replica of a Hollywood Oscar trophy in the inside pocket of my jacket.

Who? Why? Who knows!

Just as I was contemplating some form of sustenance to line my aching stomach, which was heaving in all directions not knowing quite what to do with itself, Gail took a message off our answer machine.

An afternoon lying on the couch to give my ailing body, while watching the Scottish Cup Final on the telly and sipping lots of nice hot cups of tea with the odd digestive biscuit, came to a crashing end.

A few weeks ago when I realised we would have a spare hutch in the house, I suggested to Gail we put it to good use. We registered with a specialist farm in Fife for mini-lop rabbits and the man had called this morning to say he had four baby mini-lops ready today and did we want them.

Within half an hour Laura had been dropped off at a birthday party and we were winging our way over the Forth road bridge into the Kingdom of Fife. When we got to Anstruther an hour and a quarter later, we found four 8-week old mini-lops waiting to see us. One black, one white, one light grey and one dark gray. After much deliberation we took the two latter ones, both female and both the most gorgeous little bundles of fur you are ever likely to set eyes on.

We got them home and Laura was delighted. We told her there would be a surprise waiting after her party and she had managed to narrow it down to either a bouncy castle for the back garden or a swimming pool! She wasn't as excited as I was expecting, (I think the novelty of getting Milly saw to that) but she still loves them. I got their cage ready - they are going to take Milly's old hutch in the corner of the kitchen where Milly used to be.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow once I've taken them.

I had no time to properly get freshened up or get dinner by the time I had to go to work, so I went to work via the fish and chip shop. I bought a fish supper and two cans of Irn-Bru and ate while sitting at my desk working away. Why two cans? Because of the crappy air-conditioning meant the temperature at work was over 70 degrees after such a roasting hot day. And it was meant to rain today, as well!! So much for that. It could have done with a refreshing downpour.

At work I had a lot of time to wait after implementing new software before the testers had completed, so I edited chapter 19 through to 22 of Hunting Jack. By 4am I was totally shattered and delighted to get to bed. It's been a hectic 48 hours.

Colin 6:19 pm | 1 comments |

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Day On The Town

Not a lot of work today, I'm afraid. Well, not the usual 'sitting-at-desk' type of work, but more the 'rushing about to meeting after meeting' type work. Most of it revolved around an overnight implementation I'm working on for tomorrow night and there are a lot of stresses and worries that the managerial Gods are under because of it. None of it bothers me however, because I am made of Teflon and don't really give a shit anyway.

And so by early afternoon I was sat in Clark's with Dave and Tom. We went from there down to Tanfield Bowling Club, sank a few more pints and played some pool until early evening when Zander joined us. It was a good laugh and the drink flowed fast and thick.

From there we moved on to St.Cuthbert's, Hectors, The Baillie and The Standard, a pub crawl designed to slowly move us towards the city centre. By the time we left The Standard, the levels of drunkenness had escalated to ridiculous proportions. Tom decided to buy a round of zambucca and while I received stern slaggings about my manhood for not taking part, I wasn't the one who ended up being sick in my mouth and having to swallow it back down, in order to prevent being kicked out the pub for making a mess.

So we jumped into a cab and headed for The Jam House. Tom was ejected at the door for a) wearing trainers and b) for being too drunk anyway. When we got inside Dave did a disappearing act and after much worried searching, I found out later he had decided to depart in a taxi. Enough being enough.

And so it was me and Zander who remained. The Jam House is the brain-child of Jools Holland and is a hybrid restaurant-dance-live music venue. A great theme, but in reality not as good as I had imagined it might be. The house band were pleasant enough, but didn't play enough to really get me that excited and it was all over rather quickly. After they left the stage, the buzz that seemed to be around the place disappeared and all that remained was a replica of All Bar One; a large room with no personality serving over-expensive wine and beer.

After Zander so kindly did a runner, leaving me on my own, I eventually hopped into a taxi and back home. It all makes sense as I write it now, but at the time I was really quite drunk and confused.

After the hectic week I've had, I probably needed it. It was great to be back out with the boys on a Friday again, as it's been too long in the coming. Can't do it every week though; I'm just too old for this kind of thing.

Colin 9:22 pm | 0 comments |

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Take A Break

By 9am it was roasting. All us wally's who decided on even the lightest of jackets to work, soon regretted it as soon as we were a hundred yards down the road. It was roasting this morning - even better than yesterday. Today is meant to be the peak of the heat wave, with tomorrow being overcast and cooler. Just in time for me being unable to find a beer garden to sit in and have my Friday pint after a week of sitting in a stifling office watching everyone else get burnt.

I got through a lot of work today. I edited chapters 14 through to 18 of Hunting Jack, fully polished and ready smoothly. I also managed one chapter of the second part of Stella.

By the time I was done my head and eyes were aching and I really couldn't go on anymore. I have worked my ass off this week, between the day job and then the manuscripts and fatigue really overtook me. I just couldn't look at another word or piece of paper.

So after dinner - a fry-up since Ian was joining us - I took five, watched a bit of telly and just chilled. I think I've deserved it. The editing I have got through equates to about 54,000 words being reviewed, contemplated, edited, re-read and edited again. It's been tough going and I feel like I've worked extremely hard because my brain is shouting, "enough for now!"

And so in the interests of quality, I think it best to take a few hours rest before resuming.

Colin 1:46 pm | 0 comments |

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sunshine On Leith

It was an even more beautiful morning than yesterday. Blue skies everywhere and a new level of warmth, without being overbearing. Then I arrived in the office.

*Sigh*

We moved Milly out into her new home I the back garden last night. It's a much bigger hutch with a larger sleeping compartment and larger play area. She took to it immediately.

I, on the other hand, never.

I walked into the kitchen later at night and popped my head out to check there were no cats or foxes milling about. And there she was, sitting at the back of the hutch staring through the grill at me in the conservatory. Her wee eyes were calling to me, what have you done to me - it's freezing out here. I felt so guilty and asked Gail if we should bring her back in - she told me to grow up.

Then this morning I walked into the kitchen and it hit me that she wasn't there any more. She was out back in her new pad. It's no fun not having there to greet me every day. There's a big gap where she used to play in the corner. I looked out at her munching away on some lettuce for breakfast, glad she made it through the night, but I miss her not being in the house. Wee soul.

Worked through some long chapters; 10 to 13 of Hunting Jack. I'm finding the further in I get the less actually needs changed or cut out. Must be my writing was improving the more I wrote. Or maybe I'm not noticing as much today. Surely it can't be that because I'm so charged with the work I'm managing to handle at the moment.

I went to snooker but really couldn't be arsed. My mind is too focussed on my Stella and Hunting Jack editing, I started losing my concentration; hitting the wrong balls, forgetting who's shot it was or what colour I was on. Total shambles, and all because I'm totally immersed in these works.

I meant to say, on the way home yesterday the bus was diverted because the police had closed off Henderson Street in Leith. It didn't put me out too much, it just meant I had to walk a bit further to get home, but no reason was give for the closure.

Today it all became obvious. A sniper in the 'Banana Flats' was taking pot-shots at workies and passers-by with a rifle. The ARU was assembled and within minutes the entire area cordoned off with armed officers trained on the building. Eventually he was captured and charged on firearms and drugs (no surprise there) charges.

Ah Leith. Yes, the sun never stops shining here.

Colin 10:02 am | 0 comments |

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Paperback Writing

It was a beautiful morning over Edinburgh. It was fresh with blue skies and a strong hint of a warm day impending. Then I walked into the office and felt like smashing the walls down with a sledgehammer. We had been told we were moving to a new building in a couple of months - a state of the art modern building - but that's been put off for another year. Which means this building won't be getting renovated for months yet.

Wonderful. It's always been the case that the I.S. department gets shat on when it comes to nice environments and state of the art equipment. The business areas that actually deal with customers get gleaming desks with shiny new PC's in sensitive air-conditioned offices with large windows that open. We get tiny desks, ten year-old PC's, no air-conditioning, windows that don't open, ant-infested carpets and polluted toilets. The whole thing stinks - literally.

You can tell I'm enjoying my working week, can't you?

Worked through chapters four to nine of Hunting Jack. Still stripping out surplus words and phrases, trying to keep controlled and focussed on showing the action, not telling it, painting the pictures, not talking about them.

It's a measure of how far my writing is moving that fact that I previously couldn't see these areas for improvement, let alone methods of fixing them. It's more challenging, but tonnes of fun. It's not half a strain on the wrists though. I never am able to type fast enough for my brain and you know, I still think my 'voice' is developing.

I've completed part one of the Stella manuscript edits (in red ink only). I've still to apply them to the master, but I'll wait until the whole process is complete before standing back to admire. I think it's a superb story, like nothing I've done before. If they made it into a film it would have to be directed by Tarantino, not for any violence in it (there's minimal fighting), but because of the relation between reality and fantasy. It's a mixture of them both, but where the lines are drawn the user is left to decide.

Almost complete read-through number two of my friend's novel manuscript. I've enjoyed it just as much the second time round, but now I'm almost done, I'll be writing up what I think very shortly. It's a super read, one deserving of being expanded more and tangents applied. What the author does with it though, is entirely up to her.

That's the beauty of novelists. You can get entangled in the world they create, and hope the characters go one way, choose one direction. But the writer is God and all decisions are up to him or her. Frustrating - sometimes, engaging - you bet.

Watched some Billy Connolly on tour in Australia on the Living Channel, or something like that, before I went to bed. Then I couldn't go to bed for the tears streaming down my face with laughter. He's some man and despite what a lot of people say about him, especially in Scotland, he's a true Scot and a true gentleman. We should be proud of him.

'nuff said.

Colin 11:03 am | 2 comments |

Monday, May 08, 2006

Birthday Boy

As you can guess, I slept very poorly last night. Constantly tossing and turning, waking, drinking water, dreaming bits of nothing here and there. Just awful. Yet when I woke I felt totally refreshed and ready to go. Add a little bit of early-morning ska into the equation courtesy of Too Hot, and I went to work feeling like a brand new man.

From the beginning of my time in the office though, the heat was too much. It was sticky, manky, sweaty, drowsy, humid, rather-close-my-eyes, lazy kind of hot. Why can't these people control the temperature of the building? It's roasting outside so they keep the heat on! When it's cold you can't move for all the stiff nipples! Talk about being unable to find decent staff these days. Monkeys on a raft could do a better job of regulating the heat in here.

I really can't wait until the summer kicks in fully. It will become so stagnant in here, as you come in out of the searing summer heat, into a room hot with the sweat and grime of a hundred dying office workers. You can actually smell last week's B.O. hovering like a - well, like a bad smell!

After work I had a quick dinner then it was off down to see my nephew, Kyle. Today is his third birthday and we popped in to see him and his folks. He's now the proud owner of some snazzy Lego sets and an early laptop learner. I also gave him a print out of my latest E-book, Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1, which as the more observant of you who have obtained a copy already know, the book is dedicated to him. He gets read poems and stories at bedtime so hopefully he'll like these ones too.

His Dad (Gail's bro), gave me a new mother board, graphics and sound card and bits and bobs for my PC. Hopefully the processor is a higher spec in which case, if I can figure out how to build it all together, I'll have a much higher rating PC. I should be able to upgrade the RAM also, since there are more ports for the cards. There was almost enough to build an entire PC from scratch, but the money saved by picking up his spares is a huge favour. He wouldn't take cash, so I'll get him a bottle of his favourite Jack Daniels in stead.

I got through three chapters of the final (for now) sweep of Hunting Jack edits. Chunks of superfluous text are being stripped out as I work my way through the text chapter by chapter. There is a whole new chapter I want to write, about him visiting a library to try and expand on the clues of his family's background. There he will discover the horrible truth of the not so obvious gangster connections and the notorious Glasgow Ice-cream Wars of 1984.

By adding this chapter, I will reinforce what doesn't seem to come across very strong at the moment about the history, which is after all, what the story is meant to be set against.

I've been asked already, but the Ice-Cream Wars is a true story - it did all happen and much of what is in Hunting Jack as far as background goes, did actually occur. People are still serving for crimes committed in what was a dark time for Glasgow and the repercussions are still felt to this day.

Click here for some fascinating information on what happened back in the early 80's.

or

click here to download the Evening Times supplement which has some amazing images and descriptives from one of the darkest times in Glasgow history.

Colin 8:38 am | 1 comments |

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lazy Like A Sunday

As you can probably imagine I slept longer than normal today. Last night's early-morning finish knackered me out, but it was a good night out nevertheless. Good to get out with Gail and good for her to see her Dad's side of the family at an event. No hangover for me either. That's the good thing about Guinness; next day is never as bad.

Garden duties took up my afternoon. I assembled our new lawnmower and trimmer and cut our lawn back down to size. It had become way overgrown during the winter months and badly needed a tidy. I gave a lot of the grass to Milly who chomped her way through a tonne of the stuff.

Milly, by the way, is our Guinea Pig. She's all-white, with large black eyes, and as cute as a button. I wasn't sure about getting her at first, but when she arrived I fell in love with her. Who wouldn't - you should see her wee face.

During dinner, the lady we got Milly from turned up at the door to deliver the hutch she said we could have. It's an outdoor one that stands tall and has been re-covered with water-proof covering. Wee Milly will be living outside from tomorrow night onwards. I'm going to miss seeing her wee head pop out her home when I walk into the room every morning.

We're becoming quite an animal-friendly home. There's the goldfish in the ktichen, the tropical fish in my office, the Guinea Pig now moving to the garden. And now we have a spare hutch, who knows what's coming next?!

Watched a bit of telly in the evening with Gail, so never got much else done. Now that Stella is nearing completion I plan on beginning work on Hunting Jack to get it completed, too. Both are so near a state I can be happy with, once they are finished I can go back and re-start my work on A Friend To Die For. I'll need to re-acquaint myself with the story, but now I have more experience under my belt, I feel I am better placed to tackle what is a complicated tale to write. Multi-characters and parallel plots that come together through the book is something that scared me before. Not now - now I'm full of confidence.

No doubt there will be more work erquired once I've thought they are complete - I'm not kidding myself - but once they are marketable at least, I'll start looking for an agent for Hunting Jack and a publisher for Stella.

I've started receiving submissions and replies to the email I sent out to the people in my writing group about an anthology. I think this is going to be a superb publication and there is going to be a lot of work involved but I'm looking forward to it. I'll need to decide what I'm going to submit myself.

Colin 1:20 pm | 0 comments |

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Dancing With The Oldies

When I wrote last night's blog entry it was about 10pm and I was planning on doing just the one chapter of Stella before hitting the hay. As it turned out, I worked until 2am completing the second draft of Stella and bringing the net word count to just over 15k.

A lot of the ties have been made, and some major chopping and rearranging had to be done to work them in. This I have found to be harder than normal, because it has to stick with the story I feel is being told through the songs from the original album, as well as the mood of each song. It's vital each track comes across in each chapter in mood and feel. Not as easy as it sounds.

All that remains is the final tie between the prologue (set at the end of the story) and the final chapter. The two points in time are where the circle meets and they have just missed each other slightly when the circle has come round. It's like trying to draw the perfect circle by hand.

So despite the late night I was up early and away into town as per normal for a Saturday. With Laura at dancing I had to get myself some new brogues for a party in the evening. Gail's Uncle is retiring from the Fire Brigade, and this is the family side of the celebration. Needless to say there will be lots of firemen there so I had to accompany her to make sure everything remained calm.

I got some new socks and a pair of trousers while I was at it. God, I hate clothes shopping. It was the quickest sale the bloke in the shop has ever had. I was in and out like lightning; the best way to shop for clothes I feel.

I popped into the pet shop and checked out all the rabbits, gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs etc. then into the aquarium shop on Leith Walk to have a gander. There was nothing exciting in stock, so I left empty-handed.

I spent the afternoon with a print out of Stella and started editing from paper. Then it was off to the Northfield Hotel on the other side of Edinburgh. As retirement bashes go it was quite good. It was quite an emotional night for the man who was retiring after a career in the Fire Service. There was a lot of family there and a lot of colleagues he served with from the distant past.

I had a thirst on and was first up on the dance floor dancing 1970's style to Disco Inferno. Gail was not amused. I half expected it to be an OAP melee, but when the Sinatra and Martin tunes came on, it was us youngsters who seemed to be enjoying the music more. It turned into a good evening and when we got back home, the tunes and drinking didn't stop until shortly before 6am.

I needed that.

Colin 6:10 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, May 05, 2006

A New Project Begins

The thunder storms that hit Northern Ireland and the west side of Scotland failed to reach us here last night. The pictures that some members of the public got as the storm passed over Glasgow are somewhat spectacular though. Have a gander over at BBC's weather pics page.

Banning pie and chips in the great British pub could be next on our wonderful Executive's agenda. Don't even get me started on that one.

My latest press release was published today, publicising my new e-book, Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 as well as highlighting some of my other work.

It never made any difference to me what food was being served in the pubs today because a few of us in the team went out for an Indian meal for lunch. Kushi's on Potterrow was the venue for the food, the pub next door the supplier of the bevy. It was a gorgeous meal; I had pakora with chilli sauce then lamb with a chilli/onion/garlic/tomato/ginger sauce. Wonderfully hot and very tasty.

At night I got to work contacting all members of my writing forum, past and present, to see if I can get a wee project underway I've been thinking about. An anthology of work from all our members is the aim, which I'll produce into a tasteful e-book and release at some point later in the year. Hopefully I can get as many people as possible interested and it will be an exciting project. I think it will be hugely worthwhile and will be something great we can all look back on. More on this as it unfolds.

Managed another chapter of Stella before I went to bed. I wish she was real.


Colin 9:58 pm | 0 comments |

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Mouth

I never had anything to drink at snooker last night so I woke without my normal Thursday head of fuzz and got into work at a decent time. The people in my area where I sit, hemmed in like lemmings, have decided we don't need artificial light any more. The result is that our area is now a dark and mysterious corner of the office, where no-one fear tread. Other than the glow of the monitors and tapping of keyboards, it promotes peace and an essence of serenity.

That is until the loud mouth over the barrier starts talking. He can't stop himself. He can't stop himself shouting every sentence to the point I want to ram my PC down his throat because it's a pile of crap as well. And he's at it all day; talk-talk-talk-talK-taLK-tALK-TALK-TALK!!! We call him The Mouth - because that's about all there is of him.


Maybe I'm getting to the source of one of my frustrations.

Had quite a busy day in the office. It dragged toward the end of the afternoon but the tail end of the week does tend to go quicker than the start. It's depressing that all there is to do is pray for the weekend.

I worked through the first six chapters of Stella, adding a net total of 620 new words. It's really coming together now. Once this draft is done I'll print it off and give it a good going over from the page. Then any more changes add them in and maybe hand it to someone to read over before doing another read through.

Colin 11:06 am | 1 comments |

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Feel Like Screaming

I feel like this today -

- like screaming, from a frustration that dwells and grows from somewhere deep within. I just can't quite put my finger on it. Things are not easily explained, or rather, I have been unable to work them out. I look out at the world and it scares me sometimes. Is it just that the media has got better at reporting everything instantly from every corner of the world and at any level? Or is it that there really is a growing number of murderers, paedos, junkies, buggerers, burglars and muggers on our streets. There's so much random violence about one wonders when it is to arrive on my own doorstep.

On a lighter note (pun intended), I've started to lose weight. I want to drop a few pounds for my sister's wedding in July and before I get fitted for my kilt. It's gong to be a gerat day.

The stag is in Aberdeen at the end of the month. Should be interesting, especially as I don't know any of the lads who are going, except the groom.

I worked on the first couple of chapters of Stella last night. It's always good to go into it fresh after a couple of weeks away from it, so maybe there was some benefit in working on something else in April. I wish I could get this damn thing finished to the point I am happy with it. The ending and the start need to link in and I'm hoping this time round the link reveals itself more obviously. It's gotten into a muddle but it's slowly unravelling the more I work in it. It's a slow project this one, but I'll get there.

I finished editing and preparing the press release for the new book. I'm only going to limit this to online agencies and email sources. It's a free book after all so I'm not going to pay out for postage and envelopes. I submitted it ready for release on Friday am.

I wrote a couple of poems in the afternoon. With a bit of work they would have been great to include in the Silly Poems e-book. I'll stick them away and use them in the future.

Colin 11:34 am | 1 comments |

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Over For Another Year

Thanks to everyone who downloaded my e-book, Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 yesterday, during the second annual, Poetry Super Highway, Great Poetry Free-For-All.

I've already had some wonderful feedback and having downloaded all of the e-books myself, the standard was, as always, superb. There is always much to learn and much to enjoy when exposed to so many talented writers and poets, and I have to congratulate my colleague Rick Lupert on the work he does online as well as in his own community.

The download stats were published this morning, and while there were 13 less books than last year, I managed to come in as 7th top downloaded book with 39 downloads.

Last year, I came 6th with 74 downloads for Brick by Brick. The winner last year had 103 in total.

This year's winner did so with 59 downloads, who by the way is a cyber-buddy of mine from Glasgow; the outstanding writer and poet Dee Rimbaud with his e-book, Dropping Ecstasy With The Angels. There's a link to Dee's site over on the left of this page somewhere.

And so it's all over for another year. The book is up on the site for general download release, and people are getting their copies daily. Brick by Brick is still downloaded every day, which is perhaps the biggest surprise.

Silly Poems was a lot of fun to do. It gave me a big tick on my GDR and of course exposed me to some new ideas and possibilities. Right now however, it's back to the fiction!

Espresso Fiction sent me three identical e-mails, each one a rejection for Heart of a Child, Daffodils and On A Monday Morning. Not entirely unexpected.

I wrote up a press release for Silly Poems, which I'll re-draft and post tomorrow for publication at the end of the week. Figured I might as well promote this as a highlight on the back of Fringe Fantastic.

Colin 11:11 pm | 1 comments |

Download The New E-book Here!

For those of you who missed the Great Poetry Free-For-All on May 1st, here it is again! Your chance to download my latest e-book, Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1.
Just click on the rainbow and follow the instructions.
All feedback will be welcomed at colin@colingalbraith.co.uk


This e-book will always be available from this site along with Brick by Brick (free to download also) and Fringe Fantastic (Paperback £8).
Full details are over to the left.
Colin 11:50 am | 0 comments |

Monday, May 01, 2006

The PSH Great Poetry Free-For-All

It's a public holiday today. The May Day holiday, in fact, which means all the shops are shut, public transport is running a restricted service and it is raining. But the super-powers that be, say WE still HAVE to work. Rearrange the following words into a suitably apt sentence to describe our Board of Directors.

stingy - arse - of - effing - bunch - holes - arse

Despite having to sit in an office with no phones ringing, no contact to anyone else in the world and no means of getting a good coffee or lunch, the day went rather quickly. At 8am the PSH Great Poetry Free-For-All began in the UK and an email came through almost immediately from the organiser to say it had started. I downloaded one of every e-book on offer and sent out an email from work. Most people are on holiday so it sets me back immediately.

Once I caught up on my weekend blogging I put up the advert at the top of my site for the e-book. I printed a couple of copies off as well; one for Laura and the other for the little lad who the book is dedicated to.

I had some work to do on the website in the evening, both to the blog and to the main site. I adjusted a few things for the publications I've had recently, got it ready for the new e-book and updated the news page. I received some feedback from downloaders of my book; some from friends and one from a brand new reader. It's the kids reaction I want to gauge though. They're the real critics in this project.

Anyway, here's May's GDR Targets. There'll be no fannying around this month!

Fiction
* Complete Stella
* Complete second redraft of Hunting Jack
* Complete new chapter of Hunting Jack
* Write a new short story
* Keep on top of submissions list

Poetry
* Write poem for reading at my sister's wedding in July
* Write any poems that come to mind inspirationally

Non-Fiction
* Commence work on Scotland's Treasure for July column
* Write story/article for Being Dad Anthology
* Write four weekly blog entries for TSDR

Marketing and Promotion
* Step up marketing and promotion of Fringe Fantastic for Fringe
* Keep website up to date
* Follow up on PR received still to be actioned

Reading and Research
* Release Tall Tales and Short Stories Vol.2 into the wild
* Finish reading friends novel WIP and prepare crit
* 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: http://fringefantastic.colingalbraith.co.uk

Colin 11:09 am | 0 comments |

FREE DOWNLOAD - TODAY ONLY - Silly Poems for Wee Kids Vol.1



PLEASE DOWNLOAD MY NEW BOOK FROM THE POETRY SUPERHIGHWAY!!!

SILLY POEMS FOR WEE PEOPLE VOL.1 IS AVAILABLE FOR TODAY ONLY. IT'S FREE AND ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS CLICK ON THIS LINK AND SCROLL DOWN --->

DOWNLOAD SILLY POEMS FOR WEE PEOPLE VOL.1 HERE!!

You can download this e-book only from the Poetry SuperHighway on May 1st 2006 between the following hours:

00:00 (Mon 1st) to 23:59 (Mon 1st) West (not East) Coast USA (LA)
03:00 (Mon 1st) to 02:59 (Tue 2nd) East (not West) Coast USA (NYC)
08:00 (Mon 1st) to 0759 (Tue 2nd) UK and Western Europe (Edinburgh)
12:30 (Mon 1st) to 12:29 (Tue 2nd) Eastern Europe (New Delhi)
11:00 (Mon 1st) to 10:59 (Tue 2nd) Far NE Europe (Moscow)
17:00 (Mon 1st) to 16:59 (Tue 2nd) Down Under (Sydney)

For a more accurate timetable for some major cities around the world, please go to this timezone checker.
Colin 12:05 am | 5 comments |