Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

January GDR Wrap-Up

I just realised I think I may suffer from End-Of-The-Creative-Month Blues. Everything is wrapped up for another month, all my projects tidied in my head and shifted back into little boxes in my brain, and I feel a bit low because of it. Planning out a new monthly GDR brings me back into charged-up mode, but in between, I’m on a low.

So without wasting any time, here’s my January final GDR position.

* Begin in-depth notes for researching/writing second draft of Slick - have begun taking notes but stayed away from this for the month. I felt this was needed to be able to approach with fresh eyes, but also to enable me to clear the plate somewhat with a lot of my other work.
* Work on synopsis and format of children's book - Still in progress, but took a back seat a bit.
* Work on ideas for new novel to begin writing in February - needs bags of research but won't be starting Feb. Keep till March/April. I want to finish Slick first and do more research. Got an idea for another novel that could begin earlier while doing other research.
* Keep on top of submissions list - done. Re-editing six targeted short stories for re-submission to new markets.
* Follow up on three outstanding Stella submissions and look at possible new markets – redrafted Stella and prepared a new query letter and synopsis. Submitted to several publishers.

* Complete Poolside Poetry for possible Feb 07 release – done. Font, front and back cover designs decided on. Release date set for March 2nd. Pre-ordering available and websites updated.
* Write more poetry (new themes for the PSH Free-for-all) – no new poetry.
* Issue Press Release for River Monkeys in Pocketful of Fun anthology – Written. Targets specified and sent out.

* Complete re-write on Scotland’s Treasure for January column after storms cancelled event – done.
* Contact Scottish poet for re-arranged interview – Successful interview on 22nd Jan.
* Begin design for independent freelance website – complete. Next step to promote and query.
* Tidy up all the Press Release handling on the websites (to pdf’s, press kit’s etc.) – PR’s done. Press Kit done. Needs loaded to website.
* Write SDR articles, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th January – all done. Feb 6th, 13th, 20th planned/written.
* Make list of all initial markets to focus on – done (Step-parenting, websites, internet and PC’s for beginners).

* Buy some new plectrums – done
* Buy a guitar book – Got two. A basic one and an in-depth one, both with CD’s to accompany lessons.
* Buy new strings – done
* Start learning guitar – done. Learning chords A, D, E, G, C and tunes with them in.
* Start the design for rabbit run – taken measurements, decided on stand-alone cage.

Marketing and Promotion
* Prepare press release for Poolside Poetry for when it goes live
– ready to go, will enhance nearer the time.
* Complete cross-promotion with Fife B&B for Fringe Fantastic – not done. MUST be done in Feb. so set up for the summer and August
* Approach hotel chain with view to stocking FF – chain possibly being sold. Might be a non-starter. Hold off on this.
* Keep website up to date – blog done. Main site revamp planned – ideas under selection. Pre-book facility in place prior to Sunday Herald article.
* Re-analyse promotion of FF and PP – in progress. Planning to contact the Fringe directly very shortly.

Reading and Research
* Finish reading Billy by Pamela Stephenson – complete
* Finish reading Flesh and Blood by John Harvey novel – IP
* Read Watchman by Ian Rankin – IP

Other Projects
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR
– done. Winter issue published. Now planning April issue.

Things That Turned Up
* Sent copy of Fringe Fantastic to Jonathon Ross after hearing he wants to read more books on his 13th Jan show.
* Interview with the Sunday Herald and photograph shoot – published on Jan 28th.
* Emergency website fix for previous web customer.

Submissions Made
Novella – Stella now submitted to several publishers
Poem – Love is submitted to Circadian Poems. Accepted for Valentine’s Day issue, 14/2/07
Poem – Scotland Neglected submitted to Circadian Poems. Accepted for St.Patrick’s Day issue, 16/3/07
Story – A Bond of Faith to Glimmer Train

* Interview with Sunday Herald has generated some interest. The whole thing was an excellent experience.
* Interview I conducted with Anita Govan was equally as interesting but also helped me to polish my interview and networking skills.
* Breaking down monthly GDR's to a daily to-do list has helped organise, motivate and get through more work.
* 2 poems accepted.
* Blog overhauled.

* Heart of a Child rejected by Barcelona Review (assumed since never heard back)
* A bond of Faith rejected by Portable Muse (assumed since never heard back) – since rewritten
* Daffodils rejected by 3am (assumed since never heard back)
* Daffodils rejected by ThugLit (assumed since never heard back)
* Two articles rejected by Interactive Dad (assumed since never heard back)
* Had an email filter problem a few months ago which could account for these non-responses, so changed the settings. Have put some of the stories through the re-write process anyway.

Fiction – 0
Non-Fiction – 21,300
Poetry – 0

Outstanding Submissions
Pulp 1
Glimmer Train 1
Crimespree Magazine 1
Wildchild 1
Ephemera 1

Stella 4
Hunting Jack 4

Monthly Health Summary

How did I move outside my comfort zone this month?
Meeting with the Scottish poet, Anita Govan, was excellent. It got me talking to someone who is very persuasive and motivated by performing poetry. I committed myself to attending a performance though I was told to “get up there and do it.” This also helped me flex my interview skills once more and I did feel more comfortable allowing the conversation to flow versus listing loads of questions.

Getting contacted by the Sunday Herald and doing the photo shoot, both of which were very much outwith my comfort zone. I feel I am getting more comfortable doing it, having done interviews in the past and talking to high profile people. It pushed me into thinking about how I approach these things and put myself across confidently. I can use this experience when it comes to promoting myself directly.

Did I challenge myself?
I made the commitment to setup in freelance and try to get more work through this channel. I put the groundwork now in place so I can now start querying more confidently.

I’ve made myself start to think about my image in the wake of the Sunday Herald interview. Sounds a bit egotistical but rather this is a reverse decision in that I intend not to bother about it any longer.

Was it the right thing to do?
Freelance? Yes, if I want to progress, make money and experience more things.

Image? Of course. Why worry about it?

Did I favour the challenge over the easy approach?
Yes. It would be easier not to have done anything and cut off the freelance route altogether. I can make money through this channel so why not? A writer has to eat.

Committing myself to at least getting down to a performance poetry reading is a big step because I know it will lead to me performing. It’s all about confidence, and I won’t get more of this by sitting at home not promoting my work.

What did I do to minimise costs?
Putting PP for sale direct from the publishers instead of buying bulk this time.

What did I do to maximise output?
Dropped the cover price for Poolside Poetry.
Got the websites revamped and able to take pre-orders prior to the Sunday Herald interview being published.
I’ve been more vocal about being a writer, about my intentions, and about the work I have accomplished to date. I have nothing to be ashamed or bashful about.

What did I do to maximise visibility?
I’ve become more vocal and not been so modest. I have written three novels (one published in serial form), a novella, two e-books and two paperback books of poetry.

How did I think big?
Strategic planning for freelance work.
New marketing strategy for Poolside Poetry.
New marketing and promotional ideas for Fringe Fantastic.

is out on
MARCH 2nd 2007

Click on the image to

Only £5 plus p&p

Colin 7:42 am | 1 comments |

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bouncing High and Low

Colly Wobbles (yeah right!)It appears that hits to my website have increased 7-fold since the publication of the self-publishing article in the Sunday Herald on at the weekend.

Can only be good news, surely?

Several people have said that they think I look like Superman coming out of a phone box. Hmmm - it was very cold in Edinburgh that day - certainly too cold for lycra!

My weekly post at The Scruffy Dog Review Blog is up today. Today has something about JK Rowling if anyone fancy’s a read over their lunchtime chitty (message for non-Scots – a chitty is a sandwich).

I began reviewing my GDR for this month, and with a couple of days left I look to have gotten through a lot of much needed base-building. I’ve been feeling unsettled the last couple of days, thinking about where I am and want to be, and this monthly exercise proves a good way to bring me back down and level out my thinking.

It’s just as well I have other things to think about, because the day job is about as demeaning and demoralising as you could possibly imagine. I honestly cannot believe they are paying me to do this stuff. There’s a meeting tomorrow where I will be able to vent my disapproval at the slow progress, and lack of communication. And believe me I won’t shirk a tackle.

Six Nations RugbyTalking about tackles, this weekend sees the start of the Six Nations Rugby season again. Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy, France, and England will all be competing for the championship, as well as the Triple crown and this Saturday, the Calcutta Cup.

Last year Scotland beat England at Murrayfield and I had one of the best days ever in Edinburgh. When the final whistle went there was such jubilation and joy over beating the Auld Enemy for the first time in sixteen years (I think it was), that we had such a party!

It’s been a lot longer since we beat them at Twickenham, so this Saturday should be an awesome game. England aren’t the team they once were.

Spent the evening with the family. No writing or other work was done, though I did see another of those programmes about couples who pay off their mortgage in two years by building businesses and cutting costs. Most inspirational viewing.
Colin 10:25 am | 0 comments |

Monday, January 29, 2007

Weekend in Glasgow

Did everyone remember to buy a copy of the Sunday Herald for my appearance, yesterday? If you missed it, click here for the online version (no pictures).

The scope of the article was widenend so it contained more about the self-publishing industry, so I have fewer quotes, but I did get a large colour picture holding my book Fringe Fantastic. I’ll try and get a scan from somewhere.

My weekend in Glasgow was superb and badly needed. Steam was let off, responsibilities shirked, and anything serious forgotten. It was an old-school lads day out, for which I paid the price on Sunday with the Mother of all hangovers.

Friday night saw me and my bro’ doing a couple of pubs we have not visited in a long, long time. The Horseshoe Bar on Drury Lane, O’Henry’s just opposite and the Auctioneers just off George Square. It felt good to be back in them and reliving old memories.

The jaunt down memory lane continued the next morning out on the south side of the city. Shawlands (where I used to live) has changed in many ways, but in most others, not a bit. We realised we had become Jack and Victor, as we pointed out buildings and places that meant something to us in our twenties from the comfort of the front seat of the number 4 bus along Pollockshaws Road.

We paid tribute to a few of our old haunts in Shawlands (Finlays mainly), and even stopped outside my old flat, tears welling in our eyes (joking), before meeting the rest of the crew in the Griffin Bar at the top end of Sauchiehall Street (pr. Sucky-hall). For the rest of the day we ran amuck in a giant pub crawl. Lauders, I was delighted to discover, still has a big band that plays on Saturday afternoons.

Yesterday was a day of rest – just as God intended – so who was I to let him down?

is out on
MARCH 2nd 2007

Click on the image to

Only £5 plus p&p

Colin 3:09 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, January 26, 2007

Toilet Trauma

Congratulations to my mate Dave and his wife Isla, who have just added another wee baby to their ever-expanding clan. Wee Zoe, the third (and I think final) girl was born yesterday afternoon. A wee sister to Molly and Lilly, I'm sure Dave is going to relish living in a house with FOUR females. I just hope they don't all choose to get married in the same year!

I slept like a log last night. I got 10 hours and felt like I could have gone on for another 10. Felt much better though; I had more energy, open eyes and a brain that wasn't running on pulse battery power.

Lesson learnt.

A funny incident happened today at the day job. I went to the loo just after lunch and walked into one of the cubicles (there are only two). I sat down on the throne to take care of business and luckily, at the last minute, noticed there was no toilet paper.

I hoisted up the tweeds and went into the other cubicle, sat down and began my evacuation once more. Just then I heard one of the old guys in my office enter the room - I knew it was him by his coughing. He went into the cubicle I had just vacated, and proceeded to beging with his own business.

I sat stifling my laughter at the knowledge he was about to get to the point where he would be stuck with no loo paper and have no means of getting any.

Seconds passed. Minutes passed. "Oh, for fuck's sake!"

When my laughter subsided I agreed to pass some paper under the partition. It was then the horror of the situation hit me. There was no paper in my own cubicle either. Laughter changed to embarrassed tears as we both sat waiting for someone to come into the room, who would be able to pass us new rolls under the cubicle doors.

Needless to say, nothing was said about it this when we got back to the office.

I'm posting today's entry early because I'm going away for the weekend. My home city of Glasgow awaits my company for the second weekend in a row. It's my bro's birthday, and to ensure a full turnout from the entire Squadron, we are having the celebration in Glasgow instead of South Shields where he now lives and works.

I leave this afternoon and won't return until Sunday, so no posts.

Stay cool, and don't forget to buy a copy of the Sunday Herald this weekend for my exclusive interview (barring any last minute delays again)!!

is out on
MARCH 2nd 2007

Click on the image to

Only £5 plus p&p

Colin 3:00 pm | 1 comments |

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Racism Spreads to Edinburgh Shocker

Hot on the heels of the Big Brother racist "scandal", a real one has hit the headlines here in Scotland. Trevor Matthews, Chief Executive at Standard Life Plc, one of Europe's biggest insurance companies, had to issue a public apology for a racist remark he made at a company presentation on Monday.

Matthews, an Australian, was talking about the company's unpopular pension revamp proposals when he was asked why the proposal had been hidden at the back of the company prospectus, replied, and I quote; "That's the nigger in the woodpile."

Question: what's the difference between this and Jade Goody's comments?
Answer: Jade Goody, while being as thick as mince, never actually said anything racist. Trevor Matthews is a top UK Executive, is intelligent, and thought it would be acceptable to use the N-word in front of a room full of people.

Jade Goody called Shilpa Shetty, "Shilpa Poppadom", which is about as bad as the English referring to us Scots as Mr. Haggis, Jocks, Sweaty Socks, or The Scotch. What's so racist about that? We call the English Sassenachs, Southern Softies. Australians are called Or a bunch of colonial convicts, and so on, but it's all traditional banter. It's hardly racist.

Matthews has of course issued an apology, but how can anyone take this man at face value now? Not only are he and his boardroom buddies stealing from the company employees by raiding their pension scheme, but now he has tarnished what is left of their image by hinting at the levels of disrespect and disdain they hold the public, as well as their employees.

~ Serious bit ends. ~

I was in work for before 7am today after last night being up constantly. I felt not bad, as though I had been up all night but a shower and an extra-strong coffee refreshed me a lot. By 9am though, I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I had to splash water on my face and the heat in the office made me feel worse.

I went out at lunchtime and the cold air woke me up a bit, but by 1pm I was back struggling, the headache had arrived and all I wanted to do was sleep.

I got nothing done at night and began to really regret my decision to stay up all night. By the time I went to bed at 10pm I had been up constantly for 34 hours. Poor decision, I agree, but worth it if you think the book is now totally complete.

One final thing before I go...



is out on
MARCH 2nd 2007

Click on the image to

Only £5 plus p&p

Colin 1:40 pm | 0 comments |

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Flu and the Front Cover

Never made it into work on Tuesday or Wednesday, a wretched cold putting paid to that. Gee, I was gutted (sic). I loaded up on Lemsips and paracetamol and tried to stay as warm as possible for most of the time. Got nothing done, which pissed me off, though I did a wee bit of reading. Could hardly concentrate or keep my eyes open however.

Thanks to all the anti-flu remedies I slept forever over the past two days. As a result, and because I was feeling a bit better, I ended up doing an all-nighter on Wednesday into Thursday; the first one I’ve done while working the next day for quite a long while.

I was so awake and wanted to finalise Poolside Poetry, I thought; why the hell not? It was quiet, calm, and condusive to full concentration for the initial half of the night.

The most important development was the final decision on the front cover and font:

Poolside Poetry by Colin Galbraith

By about 3am and with the background TV falling to BBC News 24, I started to tire. Some coffee and a wee stroll in the garden put paid to that, because with only two hours until I would normally get up, I knew if I went to sleep for two hours I would only suffer when I had to get up. So I stayed up, watched some telly, scribbled and read until the concentration started to flag.

I showered at 5am and left for the day job a wee while after. I’m into the next day now, so everything else can wait till the next post.
Colin 7:16 am | 1 comments |

Monday, January 22, 2007

Quick Update

Quick summary about today since I'm bowled under at the moment with other work.

I met with Anita Govan over a coffee and we had a fabulous chat about her work, her life and things she is working on right now. I taped the interview and took few notes, mainly because it felt more like two people talking than an actual interview.

She's a fascinating and inspirational person, which I hope the final article will show. Look out for the published article in the spring issue of The Scruffy Dog Review.

By the way, we're still looking for submissions of fiction and poetry. Check out the website for more information.

My blog template broke so I uploaded a new one - here it is if you haven't seen it already. It was only meant as a holding site, but I like it so much I think I'll keep it.

Several people have said they are having problems viewing the page and/or leaving comments. Please email me at if you have this problem so I can try and get it sorted.

Devon - not sure where the graphic image is from - all I know is the template was called Gray River. Cool though, eh? If it is Chicago then I like the connection with it being called the Windy City!

I had two poems accepted by Circadian Poems; one for Valentine's Day and the other for the St.Patrick's Day theme.

That's about it for today. I'm tired, feeling lethargic and I could really be doing with 20 hours kip. I can feel the traces of a cold coming on, and the last thing I want is to come down with it before the weekend.
Colin 11:33 pm | 2 comments |

New Template

I've been farting around with some new templates. I decided to use this one as a stop-gap until I found a suitable one, but on viewing this uploaded - I kinds like it.

So here we are! The new look, Freedom from the Mundane blog!!

Thank you for your patience.

Normal programme viewing will return shortly.

Colin 11:11 pm | 2 comments |

Blog Update

Looks like my blog is knackered.

Please bear with me while I a) try to fix it or b) put together a new template.

Apologies for the disruption.

Colin 3:55 pm | 2 comments |

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Slight Change of Plan

Well it was a relaxing weekend. Jonathan Ross' secretary hasn't got to my complimentary copy of Fringe Fantastic yet, but his show yesterday was a good laugh nevertheless. Paul Whitehouse was a guest and the good-natured insults were flying like custard pies in a Laurel and Hardy film. I listened to the show on the way through to Glasgow, chuckling away at the back of the bus like a lunatic let loose.

My sister and I spent most of the day drinking, listening to music, reminiscing and munching on crisps and pizza. It was thoroughly unhealthy, but it was good to relax and be with her.

At about half past eight my mobile phone rang. It was the journalist who interviewed me last Thursday night. When I heard her voice the colour drained from my face as she started to tell me about the change of plans.

I thought at first the article had been canned, but instead she was letting me know that it would now be published next weekend (28th) so that she could do more research on the actual publishing company. This involves a trip to Milton Keynes, which is why I shouldn't buy a copy in the morning, but it also meant the article increasing in size from 600 words to something larger.

I was a bit disappointed, only because I had got so built up for it, but if the article is to grow in size, then who am I to complain? All I had to do now was send a text to my 894 friends who were going to buy a copy the next day!

My folks picked me up and took me back through to Edinburgh so they could pay a wee visit at the same time. We stopped in a couple of the aquarium shops in Paisley Road West on the way, but never got anything.

Gail made a superb roast for dinner - I'm still stuffed from it!

My office has become a total disaster zone. I need to get it sorted so I can feel right in my head again. I feel so charged just now I'm trying to do ten things at once and while this is good for output, I'm beginning to worry about quality.
Colin 3:43 pm | 1 comments |

Friday, January 19, 2007

Herald Photo Shoot and a New Book

Woke up with a belly full of nerves even though I knew it would be easy going, that I'd be fine, and that there would be nothing for me to worry about. My confidence wasn't in question and I wasn't worried, yet I was still nervous. Weird.

I think it was just natural energy and adrenalin I get when these things occur. I decided to try and use it to my benefit, to make it work for me today, in what is perhaps the most important piece of promotion I've bagged yet.

Thinking back to the interview last night, there are things I do wish I'd said. But I can't blame myself because between getting the email and making the call there was no more than 60 seconds to spare. I had no time to prepare, so with that taken into account I think I came across very well yesterday.

Today was all about getting a good selection of pictures. They gave me a couple of ideas of what they wanted over the phone, more really to do with location than anything else, but it made it clear to me what kind of thing they're looking for. I nkew I would be in the hands of a professional, so I had no worries on that score. I just needed to relax and enjoy.

The photographer, Steve, rang me in the morning to double-check the meeting details and I met him outside the World's End pub on the High Street. He made me feel immediately at ease, chatting about the book and what the paper wanted the pictures to include. We walked up towards the main section of the High Street after the North Bridge, and started off taking shots against the old blue Police phone box at Hunter Square.

Then we moved into some of the closes (alleys) for atmosphere pictures, up against some wall shots, and ones taken in the old red phone boxes with the buildings behind. There were long shots, close-ups, shots of me peering round the side and over the top of the book, shots of the book halving my face, at an angle or of me reading it. I was glad there was such emphasis put on the book itself, so hopefully the picture they finally choose for the article has the book cover clearly in shot.

I was told I didn't need to smile, which was fine by me because other than the fact I'm a grumpy bastard, it meant I didn't feel I was posing. Although the pics were posed, they felt more abstract or mid-motion, as though I was doing something else. In some I had to look directly at the lens, others at certain points on the horizon or to the side. Occasionally Steve would just tell me to freeze what I was doing and he would snap away, sometimes only pausing to change a setting on the camera.

It was all over in about 40 minutes. We swapped cards and Steve said the paper would more than likely be able to accommodate my request for copies of some of the proofs for my website and press kit. There wasn't any time for a pint since the paper was after the pictures as soon as possible.

Overall it was a great experience and I really enjoyed it. I discovered I'm not as self-conscious as I was during my first photo shoot (for Fringe Fantastic), and the fact that people are intrigued over what is going on doesn't bother me any more. Having it all done by such an experienced photographer as Steve obviously is, was undoubtedly a large part of that. He mentioned he does a lot of work with politicians, other authors etc. so it was great to be involved and see how it all works.

Now I wait until Sunday, and hopefully the article will make it all worthwhile.

Finally, I'm delighted to announce that my new book, Poolside Poetry, is scheduled for release on March 2nd, 2007! I've decided now is the time to set a date, particularly in view of events that took place today and last night. I updated the website to this effect.

Poolside Poetry peels away the different layers of Cyprus's personality to bring it to glorious life. Not only does the book celebrate the country's beauty in the form of poetry, but it describes the daily torment and struggle of what it is to be Scottish, pale, and holidaying under a 100 degree sun.

It's as funny as it is thoughtful.

Poolside Poetry is published by Smashing Press, and you can pre-book a copy by going to the website at:
Colin 10:01 pm | 1 comments |

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Day Of Two Halves

It was, as football commentators sometimes say, a day of two halves. The day began normally enough, skittering about the depths as I ploughed through the day job. But by late afternoon it had launched into levels of extreme energy and brain activity.

During lunch, I redrafted A Bond of Faith and got it ready to go back out. I was going to ditch it, but gave it one more read before I started. I remember it was my first attempt at a 1st person story and on reading it I remembered why I like it. It's simple, emotionally pulling, and has a nice twist. So I decided to keep it and worked through it once more before I go and try to find a new market for it.

The same process was worked on Amanda and Joe, although this wasn't anywhere near to getting ditched. I think it might make the basis for a good play but that's not something I have time for at the moment. It, too, is now ready to go back out on submission.

My great writing friend, Devon Ellington, has moved her very popular writing blog. Make sure you update your favourites and point your browser to the new location for Ink in my Coffee. It can now be found at: . If you don't know what I'm talking about, click the link; it's a fascinating journal from a wonderful writer.

I got home in the freezing cold, high winds, sleet, and rain - it was actually snowing at times today, but it was so wet none of it landed here - and turned on my PC while the kettle boiled. One good thing about starting the day job so early is that I can leave early, too. Which means more time to write in the evening, as well as capturing all-important emails - as you are about to find out.

So there I was, watching the emails build up on the screen; Viagra - 10% off; Penis Enlargement - Make Your Wife Happy; Problems With Piles? Don't Live With a Sore Bum! And so it went on. Then one email flashed past my eyes that was actually worthy of opening.

Timed at around 1:30pm, it was from a journalist at the Sunday Herald, asking if I would give her a ring about my book, Fringe Fantastic.

Having been caught out once before by an email from a journalist who had gone on to find another source for an article by the time I had got home, I launched out of my seat and rang her number.

Before I knew it, I was talking about the book and the whole self-publishing versus traditional publishing route. It was very relaxed and casual, and despite only perhaps nine or ten questions, I felt as though I was talking for much longer. I think I got across what she was looking for anyway.

She said she thought Fringe Fantastic looked really good and asked if it would be okay for a photograph. Assuming she meant a screen grab from my website I agreed, but was then informed that someone from the photodesk would be in touch about a shoot either tomorrow or Saturday.

Half an hour later everything was set. The shoot for the article is tomorrow afternoon, I've to take a copy of my book along, and with time to think about it I started to get nervous. There had been no time for nerves before the actual interview; it all happened so quickly and naturally, but now I was getting my photo taken, I began to grow a little knot in my belly.

Not having shaved for two weeks (face or head), my overgrowing hair was first to go. I went through a period of "what do writers wear for newspaper photo shoots?" Welsh is always colourful and sporty looking, Rankin always black and grungy. Auster tends to wear high neck jumpers, as does King, and McCall-Smith and Rowling all wear very smart clothes.

Then I realised. Well, it was actually Gail who said it. "Just wear what you're comfortable in." Well she didn't quite say it like that; she was trying to watch the TV at the time and was wanting rid of my insane rantings. But she was, of course, entirely correct. And so the dilemma was sorted in my mind. I'll wear what I would normally wear - photoshoot or no photoshoot.

So that was the day. I practised some more of the guitar and did a couple of site updates, then hit the hay early. Couldn't get to sleep though. Too excited!
Colin 8:03 am | 0 comments |

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Who The Hell Is Shilpa Shetty?

As most of you who watch the television, read the papers, listen to the radio or know someone who does, you won't have escaped the remarkable furore that has surround the Channel 4 programme, Celebrity Big Brother this week.

The whole world, it seems, is up in arms about 'racist slurs' made by housemates to Shilpa Shetty, an award winning Bollywood actress.

Burning effigy's in the streets of India, Governments embarrassed and embroiled, and over-driven media coverage is now the order of the day.

But what's it over?

Well, like with any other series of the programme, a dozen people are put into a house in the hope there will be one or both of two things: sex and/or fighting.

This time, we got fighting, and lots of it - as is pretty much the standard for a dozen people suddenly living together in a small environment. Don't forget also, these people are "celebrities" so there is even less room in the house when their over-inflated egos are taken into consideration.

The executives got what they wanted: back stabbing, slagging, fighting and arguing. Apparently it makes for good television.

So what's so different about this series?

One of the people involved in the arguing is Indian.
Apparently as soon as you shout at an Indian (or any other ethnic minority), you immediately become a racist. Well if you listen to the media you are, anyway.

This whole sad episode has been driven entirely by the media, who have jumped on the politically correct bandwagon and managed to stir up people's opinions on a matter that has no real justification.

So far as I can tell, nobody who goes into the Big Brother house is right in the head. They do it for their own ends, either to grab their 15 minutes of fame or in the celebrity edition, to try and resurrect flagging careers. These people weren't right to begin with even before they went in!

That said, nothing that has been reported, seems to be outwardly racist, in that if it was said to one white person to another, it would just be a normal insult. Said to an Indian, or any other ethnic minority, and it's out of line.

To the contestant in the Big Brother house
I have no sympathy. You are all a bunch of sad twats for wanting to be in there in the first place so you will get what you deserve when you come out.

To the British media
You are to blame for inciting racial tension where it existed only on the flimsiest of charges.

To the Indian media
You are also to blame for believing everything your British counterparts are writing and saying and stirring your own people up.

To the British public
Stop watching this crap and get minds of your own. It's some of the worst drivel ever to hit our TV screens. Go read a book for a change. READ MINE!!!

To the Indian public
Burning effigy's of Channel 4 executives is pathetic and proves nothing. Did any of them say anything to your Bollywood star? No. It was a stupid wee lassie who is trying to grab some fame by shacking up with a football star and going on BB. If you take what she says seriously and use it as an excuse to burn up your own streets, then you are even thicker than she is.

To the Channel 4 Executives
Lap it up people; it's what you always wanted.

To Everyone
It takes two to tango. Shilpa gave as good as she got, therefore by the media's standards some of the things she said to the others must also be racist. N’est pa?

Too much irresponsible journalism, media hype and the willingness of ethnic minorities to jump on any anti-western bandwagon that comes along makes for an unwanted hotpot of a situation. At the end of the day, some ego's argued in a house on live television and one of them was Indian. So fucking what? Could it just be that they don't like each other? Does that it make racism?

Consider this final thought: only a few people in this country new the name Shilpa Shetty a few weeks ago. Now she's a household name.


Back to the writing.

I did a wee update to my website, updating the pages mentioning A Pocketful of Fun: A Collection of Poems for Children, which by the way, has another new outlet.

Here's the full list of outlets:

Waterstones, WH Smith , Blackwells, and Amazon.

A Pocketful of Fun: A Collection of Poems for Children
Forward Press
Price: £14.99
ISBN: 1844184390

I was checking out the Forward Press website and realised that all the authors who were included in the anthology stand to share in £10,000 in prize money. First prize is £3000 and all work is considered for the Top 100 Poets of 2006 competition. Fingers crossed - I could do with a wee cash injection.

I finished the re-draft of Stella and prepared a few submission packages. It is now back out in the arena and I await some favourable responses.

Colin 9:09 am | 0 comments |

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Clearing the Decks

I had to force myself out of bed. The alarm went off and I contemplated lying till 8am and taking it easy. But I knew the guilt would anger me so I prised myself out at 6:20am and was ready to rock by 6:50am. As soon as I was out the shower I was feeling better, over the worst at least, and as soon as that first taste of piping hot coffee hit the back of my throat, all was well in the universe once more.

The weather seems to be turning for the better. The constant wind and rain is slowly being replaced by calm clear skies and a chill. It's much nicer and preferable to what we have been getting - though I'm not one to complain about the weather, as you know.

Managed to get through a load of work again. Most of it is the remaining fiddly stuff so I can clear the decks for more juicy work, such as actual fiction and poetry writing!

* Reviewed the Press Kit documentation.
* Put out a call for quotes on an online forum for the Quotes document in the Press Kit.
* Reviewed the A Pocketful of Fun press release
* Listed all the targets for the A Pocketful of Fun press release to go out to.
* Reviewed the Poolside Poetry press release
* Published my weekly Scruffy Dog Review Blog column. This week a tribute to the artist/writer, Harry Horse.
* Ran through my submissions list, marking some stories for redraft, some for ditching and others which are still waiting and may need chased up.
* Redrafted the query letter for Stella.
* Redrafted the 5-page synopsis for Stella.

I went to bed early with a book, being totally and utterly shattered. Put the lights out about 11pm but could I get to sleep?

Colin 8:21 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, January 15, 2007

Working Down The List

Yay! I managed an early start, albeit not quite managing to bounce out of bed like I was doing in November. I got up at 05:45 and was ready to write for 06:30. Nice.

On the way to the bus stop I noticed that all traces of the rain that has been flooding that country of late had been blown dry by the fierce wind. I much prefer rain to wind, it's more soothing. Rain is soft and calming, it sounds nice and provokes a calm feeling in me. Wind is violent, a bully that never gives up and it gets me angry when I can't walk straight for it battering into me.

The first thing I did was make a list of thing that I will do TODAY. I'm finding that more and more, working from my monthly GDR allows me to put things off, and so this way, I know what has to be done before nightfall. Well, since that is at about 4pm at the moment, let's change that till late evening.

And it worked too as I got through a shit load of work:

* I worked through all my outstanding email - been meaning to do this for a wee while.
* I wrote tomorrow's SDR blog article - It will need redrafting tomorrow before posting, but it's been constructed.
* I wrote the press release for A Pocketful of Fun - I'll give it a final draft tomorrow then list targets where it is to go out to.
* I wrote the press release for Poolside Poetry (for when it goes live). I'll give it a redraft tomorrow also, but it may need altered depending when I can get the book finally published.
* Put together a Press Kit for my Fiction site (author images, interview, FAQ's, quotes etc.) all in PDF. I figured this would be a nice neat way of improving my PR. I got the idea from Martha O'Connor, so thanks to her for that.
* I sent off a copy of Fringe Fantastic and a letter to Jonathan Ross. He wants to read more books? He could do worse!

I also happened upon some good news: A Pocketful of Fun is available in Waterstones! I never thought it would be retailing in such a large chain. You can see it at Waterstones Online.

One of my Financial GDR's is to reorganise the finances. This process is now underway and took a good hour or so to manage what I wanted this evening. Of all my GDR's this is probably the most immediately important. I must cut down on unnecessary outputs, and increase inputs - this is the first step to achieving this.

I was so tired by night time I could hardly keep my eyes open. I know it's just my body adjusting its schedule; it needs to get used to earlier starts and earlier to bed. I never managed it though. After doing my nightly practice on the guitar, I watched a bit of television - the second part of Waking the Dead. It got quite weird in places but I like Trevor Eve. The parallels with Spooks as a BBC drama are quite close though, and I wonder if that's wise of them to do that. Even the theme music is similar.

It was just good to get my head away from a PC screen and get a damn good cup of tea - with milk, for all my ARS pallies ;-)
Colin 8:27 am | 0 comments |

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lazy Day

Bit of a lazy day today. Slept till lunchtime though this was one of those occasions where I would rather not have. The house was kept quiet so I could kip - are the rest trying to tell me something?

After brunch I finished off the rabbit hutch, clipping their nails and giving them a quick groom, then I got the guitar out. Amazingly I remembered the A, E and D chords easily and was able to switch a bit quicker than yesterday. I started work on chords C and G, which is a good wee range. That's me finished working through the first book (I did say it was a small one), but these chords are enough to be going on for now.

I intend to do a little each day, even if just for 10 or 15 minutes. Hopefully I can build up enough calluses on my fingers and wrist memory that the repetitive strain will go away. It's a bit like typing for long periods in that you get small focussed strains.

I discovered also, that as well as the exercises in the book, the chords I am learning are also ample for playing some actual songs. For instance, the classic Madness hit, You're Wonderful, uses these chords in its entirety. I got the CD out and used the Madness track to practice against. It made it a bit easier and made me feel like I was actually getting somewhere.

For some reason when I checked my new freelance website it was displaying code in places and blanks in others. Not sure what I did so I had to rip it out and do a couple of pages again. I took some notes down for the new-look fiction site, but I'm not in so much of a hurry over that. I changed the non-fiction page to link straight to the freelance site. I will launch it shortly.

I tidied all the press releases on my website. The links were fine but as far as distribution goes it makes more sense to have them downloadable as PDF's rather than linking to an external website. I'm putting together a kind of Press Kit, which will contain FAQ's, info on my books, quotes etc.

A couple of my writing friends have moved their blogs from Blogger to Wordpress. I set up a dummy site to take a look and play around with. I've not had too much trouble with Blogger apart from the downtime, unreliability and annoyingly enforced changes to function, I quite like it. If Wordpress looks to do the same job but without so much interference, I might consider a move. Meantime, I'll watch closely how my pals get on with it. Their experience will be important.

And that's about it. I watched some telly at night and crossed my fingers for an early rise tomorrow morning. I have to get back in the habit as I fell I am losing time each day by missing my 5:15am alarm.
Colin 7:51 am | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Rock 'n' Roll

For the first time in almost a week, the torrential rain ceased and the gale force winds died down. The sky was clear and things seemed to be returning to normal weather-wise. This made the dropping of the wean at her dance school all the more easier, in fact we walked all the way there for a change instead of getting the bus.

I popped into WH Smith in Waverly Station to see if there had any copies of A Pocketful of Fun, but I couldn't see any. It was mostly novels, crossword and sudoko puzzle books they had stocked for all the commuters. Damn. I'm still waiting for my copy. I checked the contract and it could be another couple of weeks until it arrives on my doorstep. I'm dying to see what the cover is like!

Waterstones next where I cheekily looked into the kids section - just in case - but no. I did though, spend a voucher I had been given a few months ago on something directly related to my GDR's for this year. I bought two books on learning to play the guitar. I can't afford lessons so these books, coupled with the accompanying CD's and all the stuff I already have in my guitar case, should give me the grounding I need to get started.

With my new books in hand I went for my usual coffee and flicked through the pages. I also scribbled down some inspirational notes about promotion and articles I want to write. While doing so, I had my headphones on listening to the Jonathon Ross Saturday Show on BBC Radio 2. He was saying how he was fed up watching television all the time and wanted to start reading more books.

Well Johnny, expect a copy of Fringe Fantastic - because I'm sending you one first thing on Monday along with a letter begging for a mention on next week's show. You never know - funnier things have happened.

Back home I had lunch, tidied up, played a few elementary notes on the guitar, then cleaned the Guinea Pig hutch and gave her a bath. Then the weather turned, and within minutes it had gone from calm blue skies, to torrential rain and howling strong winds. Typical Scotland. The rabbits can wait till tomorrow.

I did some more work on my freelance website and it's looking good. I am going to begin by concentrating on two or three specific topics with which to focus my articles on. I will pitch these and then gradually move wider.

I did some work on Stella before getting the guitar out for the evening and started to work my way through the elementary book. It's quite good. Remembering the chords isn't that bad, it's getting to each one quick enough that is the tough bit, I'm taking it a stage at a time, so I'm working on chords A, D and E (major) at the moment. Then once I've got them instilled, I'll move onto the next chapter.

Finally, happy birthday Suggs!! Young at heart - the only way.
Colin 5:48 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, January 12, 2007


I've signed up for this: Inkthinker Query Challenge, run by author, Kristen King. Here's the blurb (taken from Kristen's site):

12 months + 120 queries = Imminent publishing success.

The plan is for all of us to get out a minimum of 120 queries by the end of 2007. This breaks down to 2-3 queries a week, so don't panic. For the purposes of the challenge, a query is any written document, electronic or hard copy, that you submit to a publisher, editor, or agent to pitch an idea for a writing assignment. Fiction or non-fiction, book or article, it doesn't matter. If you want to query for unpaid assignments, that's fine -- it's up to you. As long as you're querying, I don't care.

I'm going to use this as a driver for my freelance business.

I spent most of my writing day putting together the website for my Freelance business. I used a template but as ever, my own ideas fell into it and it involved a bit of HTML jiggery-pokery. I want to get a new author picture for it and I need to get some other stuff organised to support the business, but as far as the site goes, it's 90% done. One more tick and one step closer to being prepared and organised to give this my best shot.

I'm going to change my author site. I have really fallen out with the white on black and I have some striong ideas for the new look. It will need some careful photography and some new HTML/CSS ideas so may take a little longer to put together.

Before I go, and still on the theme of entrepreneurialism, a pal of mine has been setting up his own wine merchant's business over the past wee while. The next stage of his growing business (aside the day job), sees the launch of the online leg of the company in the form of a spanking new website. I love the design and the colours. Check out Appellation Wines for some good deals from someone who is passionate about their wine. Not that he's a wino or anything - he just likes wine. Congratulations Ash - wish you all the best with it!
Colin 4:26 pm | 1 comments |

Thursday, January 11, 2007

National Disgrace


(Headline from today's Evening News)

As the Dad of a nine-year old this sends shivers up my spine. Because not only does it raise questions about the debate of whether prostitution should be legalised and the part drugs and homelessness has to play in all this, but it also begs the question of whether these men are aware they are now child abusers as well as sex abusers.

In my opinion, legalising the industry can only help. It won't get rid of the problem but at least it might mean it can be controlled, and girls as young as this won't be put in any danger. She's lucky to be alive and probably doesn't even know it.

It's even more horrible to think that the place where this girl was found is about two minutes from my house. The "red light" district was moved a few years ago from the traditional Coburg Street, where police turned a blind eye to prostitution. The local residents forced city authorities to designate a new zone in Salamander Street - down the road from my house - but after complaints from local residents (we're still getting mail-shots through the door) it was shut down as a tolerance zone permanently.

The result? Girls wandering about the street from about 8pm onwards selling themselves, and prowlers hanging about in cars or whatever, picking them up to be used as sex objects or worse. Leith Links, which is just round the corner, is where they do a lot of their business. You can tell by the used condoms often seen lying around, and it wouldn't surprise me if that's where they did a lot of their drugs too in order to see them through the night.

When my kid becomes old enough to want to hang about with all her teen pals away from the home, do I want her to be in risk of catching something or pricking herself on a needle? Do I want cars stopping as she walks past the Links to see what business she is offering? This happens a lot to a female pal of mine who actually lives on Salamander Street and she is scared witless to go anywhere without her car when she's about there at night.

Moving them on isn't the answer. The problem will still exist. Legalise it and it can be controlled; the prostitutes will feel safe and the people who live here - me - will not worry so much about letting our daughters out. Because let's face it, the problem isn't going to away - it's been around for hundreds of years.

I worked on my websites tonight. I've decided to put together a freelance specific site, which I shall use to market my copywriting, article writing skills, etc. In doing this, I think I need to slim down and make my main site more accessible and easier to use. I like the design, I'm just beginning to go against the white writing on the black. I want it to be open and fresh and lively. I need to make my sites simpler in their design so that interested people can find out exactly what they need to know about me and my work.

This is all part of my drive for new freelance business as well as my drive to find an agent longer term. Once I was done for the evening Gail and I watched a programme, which was not entirely unrelated to all of this. It was called Pay Off Your Mortgage in Two Years, and followed up on a couple Dan and Lucy, who, with the help of an advisor, changed their life around in order to pay their mortgage off in two years, thus freeing them to live their dream life.

Starting off with £7k debt and a 30-year term mortgage for £105,000, they both moved well outside their comfort zones; Lucy taking great strides in Yoga training, Dan boosting his home-made wood burning furnace business, and huge cutbacks in their expenditure. The result was they managed it, and it was great to see.

I'm not saying for a minute that me and Gail could do the same thing (Dan and Lucy fed boiled nettle soup and tins of cat food to their two kids!), but the strongest message I took from the programme was the focus the advisor played on marketing the businesses. Repeatedly he said the following things:

* Move way outside your comfort zone
* If you feel uneasy, you are only being challenged
* If you are being challenged, you are doing the right thing
* Easy things get no results
* Minimise costs
* Maximise output
* Maximise visibility (press, leaflets etc.)
* Think big

Some of these things are kind of hinted at in my GDR for this year. I'm going to adjust my document to include all of them specifically in relation to building up a freelance writing business and with promoting my fiction and poetry.

Then we'll see what position we're in by the end of the year.
Colin 1:18 pm | 1 comments |

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A New Musical Era

As most of you know, or can probably guess, I am a lover of music. I listen to all kinds, except perhaps heavy thrash, rave and boy/girl bands. Other than that, I'm open to just about anything.

In particular I like rock, jazz, classical, easy listening and on the odd occasion, country. I would not be the man I am today, nor would I be able to survive, without reggae and ska. This is the music that gives me life. It is in my blood.

Over the years I have built up quite a vast amount of music in my collection. I have around 100 vinyl records, mixed between 7", 12" and LP, and mostly from the 80's and 90's. I also have around 300 cassette tapes, which contain all manner of things like copied albums, bootlegs, radio versions, and interviews.

When CD's became the main format my collection kept growing, and when I moved in with my now wife, we combined our collections to bring the total number in our house to around 300 CD's.

While I am able to listen to any CD I want, whenever I want, I am unable to listen to my vinyl and cassettes, an activity I used to partake of a Sunday afternoon. This is because when we moved home my stereo system (5-CD rotator, double cassette deck and turntable) were no longer required and relegated to the attic. Along with it went my boxes of vinyl and tape. A sad end to a glorious life.

The problem is I still want to listen to the music contained on those formats, but can't because of the manner of their retirement. The ideal solution would be to find a way of transferring all my vinyl and tape to CD, then I can keep the originals in safe storage, not annoy Gail with all my music lying around, and be able to listen to any of it whenever I want.

Today I found the answer to all my problems.

It's the USB Turntable!

Basically, this is a turntable that you attach to your PC through the USB port, thereby allowing you to convert easily to MP3 or CD format. In other words, you can transfer all your inaccessible music to digital format, preserving it forever and brining it once more into the category of "today's music".

It's not cheap though. At £120 it's dearer than your average turntable but it'll be worth it to transfer all my hidden tunes onto CD. I'm getting one. I can't afford not to.

I did a lot of work on Stella today, finishing up the new cover letter and tightening the synopsis. I'm still working through the manuscript and I seem to be removing more and more chunks of superfluous text. Can't be a bad thing I'm always being told.

The new novel idea is still percolating nicely. No notes taken as yet because it still needs a few doses of spice to make it into a worthwhile project.

I also have another novel vying for my attention but in a different way. An idea has come to fruition, another DI Lennox novel, but this one is really heavy in the historical stakes. It's the history that gave me the idea, and that hopefully I can build Lennox's first full case arouns since he was involved with Slick. It will need a vast amount of research, so I reckon this could be one for later in the year or even 12 months time. I won't rush it, and I shall research thoroughly, as per my GDR vow.

So I have a lot on at the moment; two novels bubbling away in my head, setting up the freelance side professionally, publishing Poolside Poetry, and of course the endless cycle of promotion/marketing.

Sometimes I just don't know where to start. Thank God for those GDR's. If I could only rid myself of the day job!

PS - Happy Birthday to my old pal Rod Stewart. 62 today ya old duffer! ;-)
Colin 1:22 pm | 3 comments |

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I published the first of this year's columns in The Scruffy Dog Review Blog today. Pop over and have a read. I'm going to use this resurrected column for Scottish Literary news and comment.

I did the school run this morning so I was on time for once. I've been struggling to get up early, mainly I think because I've been working on my GDR's and not had enough on my mind fictionally. I need a novel to work on, which is handy, because an idea has been brewing these past few days in my mind.

It's funny how this one has formed. It started with the location, then a plot idea formed, and then a character. It needs to be plotted more seriously, but I'm not ready for that yet. The idea has still to take full hold in my head first so it can mature and drum up passion in my heart. It's not ready to be outed.

I worked on the synopsis and wrote down more serious ideas for my kids book. I'm going to take this idea much further than the e-book of last year. Which reminds me, in the spring I am expecting Rick Lupert of the Poetry Super Highway to run another great poetry free-for-all - so I'm beginning to pen ideas for this already. I think I might go back to the same format of the first e-book, Brick by Brick, so I can include photography as well.

I also began work on a new round of submissions for Stella. I needed to prepare more query letters, a larger synopsis copy and I also began giving the manuscript a redraft. It's been over six months now since it was last looked at, so the fresh eyes and with the experience of Slick behind me, I'm bound to improve on it.

I've found an excellent album to listen to while I'm working. It's an album I got for Christmas (from Laura), which I've wanted for years but never got round to buying. I only wanted it for the one song, but the entire album (I already knew) is just fantastic. It is of course, White Ladder by David Gray, and the song which I never tire of listening to is, Sail Away.

Before I go, my good friend Brooks Carver has a new book published. Entitled, Give My Love To Ivey Rose, it is available now from Prairie Sky Press. Brooks is a fantastic writer, so please check out his other work available from the website.

Colin 1:03 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 GDR Plan

It's the first day back for most people, so we are supposedly "back to normal" in here. I feel dreadful about the entire thing. In my career with The Company, so far spanning over 8 years, there has been highs and lows. The general trend however, has seen morale and satisfaction slowly drop to where it is now - gutter level. I don't think I have ever felt so disillusioned, low in morale and depressed about working here.

Everything from the type of office we have to work in, the work we are being handed down, the state of the coffee machine, the location of the building, the management - everything - is ---- I can't seem to find a word suitable enough. Perhaps these words when put together will suffice: awful, abominable, alarming, appalling, atrocious, bad, deplorable, depressing, dire, disgusting, distressing, dreadful, fearful, frightful, ghastly, grody, gross, gruesome, grungy, harrowing, hideous, horrendous, horrible, horrific, horrifying, nasty, offensive, raunchy, repulsive, shocking, stinking, synthetic, tough, ugly, unpleasant, unsightly.

It is so bad, each day I wish I was sick so I would not have to go in. Each day I wonder if some miracle will occur and I arrive at the door to be told I am not an employee, that I discover it has all been a vivid nightmare, and that I never worked here at all. I can then turn around and go and write somewhere - the job I have really been doing for the last 8 years. Every day spent in here makes that dream feel further away and means I know I have to push that little bit harder to achieve it.

I completed off my 2007 GDR Plan (you can find the final version below), and I completed the re-work of my Scotland's Treasure article for The Scruffy Dog Review. It contains a feature on the New Year celebrations in Edinburgh, so due to the event cancellation I had to rework how I had written it. I also chased up the poet I was hoping to interview and I think we are holding back publication of the January issue to see if we can accommodate her.

Now that the plan is finalised and I have focussed my intentions for the year, I can feel the surge of energy rising within me. I have streamlined my goals in order that my dreams may come true, and my resolutions are realistically achievable. Everything in the plan is based on last years achievements, the last few years experience and what I want to achieve in the future. It has been set out specifically to challenge me, push me and to make tracking my progress easier.

And so, here we go -

My 2007 GDR Plans


What writing breakthrough this past year (2006) made me the happiest/proudest?
* First cheque payment for a non-fiction article: Robert Louis Stevenson - Always in Edinburgh, published by The Literary Traveler.
* Amount of networking and new contacts made at the Edinburgh Fringe and Book Festivals.
* Having a poem accepted for publication in a childrens print anthology publication.
* Completing NaNoWriMo in November.

What unexpected joys did you discover during the year?
* The 13 Travelling Journals project.
* The reaction from the Fringe street performers over Fringe Fantastic.
* Live performance poetry workshop at the Book Festival in August.
* Taking part in Devon's Writing Workshop exercises on The Scruffy Dog Review Blog.
* That I can write 70k of a novel in one month.
* Flexible fiction writing approach.

What are you unhappy with?
* Lack of Fringe Fantastic sales during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
* Reaction to Stella by the pop band Yello and their management.
* Lack of movement amongst Edinburgh writers to get together.
* Delays in getting Poolside Poetry into publication.
* Amount of fiction not written.
* Amount of non-impact in freelance market.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
* Put more effort into the Fringe Festival promotion work.
* Marketed myself more within my local community.
* Took a hard-line approach with my fiction in a bid to get more publication credits.
* Not put Hunting Jack out to tender.
* Worked on more fiction than I did.

What expectations did you find you needed to let go of?
* Selling isn't as easy as marketing. FF will take longer to sell.
* Pitching a novel is harder than I ever imagined.

Where am now I with my writing career overall?
* Further on in an overall sense, but frustrated now that I know what I can and should be doing.
* Ready to push further and take the next steps to focussing and concentrating on where I want to go.
* People are recognising me as a writer and I feel more absorbed into the world.


List your goals for the coming year.
1. To obtain representation from a literary agent.
2. To have a major piece of fiction published traditionally.
3. To increase my online and real-life marketing profile.
4. To sell out of Fringe Fantastic.
5. To publish Poolside Poetry and one other chapbook (possibly another kids).
6. To make more of an impact freelancing.

List three positive, active steps to take on each goal to get it going.
1. To obtain representation from a literary agent.
- a. Work hard completing and pitching Slick
- b. Work harder on synopsis and covering letters.
- c. Write three novels this year.
2. To have a major piece of fiction published traditionally.
- a. Focus largely on fiction and novel writing.
- b. Hone my short story writing craft.
- c. Improve the way I approach markets/editors.
3. To increase my online and real-life marketing profile.
- a. More press releases hard copied to newspapers, targeted mags and journalst contacts. - b. Be more involved with online promotion.
- c. Offer myself up for readings, signings etc. to independents.
4. To sell out of Fringe Fantastic.
- a. Market the book more aggressively.
- b. Find new outlets to stock the book.
- c. Offer myself up for personal promo.
5. To publish Poolside Poetry and one other chapbook (possibly another kids).
- a. Read more poetry and open my mind to new ideas.
- b. Become more technically honed in publishing.
- c. Read more kids books.
6. To make more of an impact freelancing.
- a. Focus on one or two specific markets.
- b. Study copywriting.
- c. Put together a focussed freelance website.


List your dreams for the coming year.
1. To obtain the services of an agent.
2. To have a novel bought by a publisher in a traditional book deal.

List three positive, active steps to transform each dream into a goal.
1. To obtain the services of an agent.
- a. Complete Slick and pitch to agents.
- b. Complete all work to a high standard (don't sub too soon).
- c. Pitch completed manuscripts to agents as strongly as possible.
2. To have a novel bought by a publisher in a traditional book deal.
- a. All of the above.


List your resolutions for the coming year.
1. Lose 2 stones.
2. Get fit.
3. Become debt free.

List three positive, active steps to help you stick to them.
1. Lost 2 stones.
- a. Eat more healthy food.
- b. Cut out more crap food.
- c. Cook more healthy meals.
2. Get fit.
- a. Exercise more regularly.
3. Become debt free.
- a. Restructure outgoings.
- b. Sell more writing/chapbooks.
- c. Utilise bonuses and royalties.


What project(s) did I leave unfinished last year that I need to finish for my own peace of mind?
* Never finished A Friend To Die For from 2005, so I really want to get this first draft down as soon as possible. It's a great but complicated story I started writing before I had the necessary skills.
* Technical manual for HTML and the Internet needs put to bed. Sitting at about 75% done this would be a great seller if I could get it completed.
* I dropped The Scruffy Dog Review Blog Column. This will be resurrected to cover Scottish literary news.

What creative goals do I want to achieve over the next year?
* Turn out more fiction, including three new novels.
* Publish Poolside Poetry and at least one more chapbook (a kids book)

What steps do I need to take on the technical front to achieve these goals?
* Committ the time.
* Do the research.
* Upgrade my PC.

How do you want to structure next year to support your writing?
* I need to set a daily/weekly target of words when I am writing. There has to be days built in for doing marketing and promotion work. Monthly plans should be established to lay this all out and I can use my monthly GDR's to incorporate these. NaNoWriMo can be used as a template for this, allbeit, a more intense schedule. Plans need to include research time and be realistic.

What changes do I need to make in my daily life to achieve these goals?
* Don't think I need to. I have achieved a balance in 2006 and I aim to keep the boat from rocking. Keep moving forward.
* I intend to move outside my comfort zone more willingly in order to make the next step, whenever the opportunities/ideas arise.
* I will cut out all negativity from my life.

What marketing steps are needed to achieve these goals?
* I need to market myself as well as my work.
* Improve press release quality and target these aggressively, but politely.
* Need to build more contacts.

How much time each day do I vow to devote to writing?
* 3-5 hours per day minimum writing or researching.

Where do you need to be more disciplined?
* Research.
* Pitching.
* Marketing.

Where do you need to ease up on yourself?
* If it's not happening just accept it and work on something else in the meantime.

With what new type of writing will I experiment with in the coming year?
* Not new, but I want to go much further with childrens poetry and fiction.

Where do I want to be with my writing in the long-term?
* I want to publish traditionally and become a full-time writer.

How does the rest of your life support your writing?
* It should allow me to be able to mix family, friends and my working life more easily.
* Ideal balance would be 50% family and friends, 40% writing, 10% day job.

How can you change/compromise on the non-supportive elements?
* Convince people that I am a writer and that I am serious about pursuing it as my career.
* Treat myself more seriously, in order to become more serious.

What will make me refer to myself, first and foremost, as a "writer"?
* Having a major piece of fiction published traditionally.

What new non-writing interests do I wish to add to my life this year?
* I will read further about Buddhism - The Dharmapada.
* I will start learning to play the guitar.


What financial goals do I want to achieve over the next year?
* Make £1000 in royalties from book sales.
* Become debt-free.

What creative steps are necessary to achieve these goals, if any?
* Sell current stock of First Edition Fringe Fantastic books.
* Market Poolside Poetry aggressively online.
* Reorganise myself financially.

What steps do I need to take on the technical front to achieve these goals, if any?
* Improve my publishing skills.
* Upgrade my PC.
* Take a leap.

What changes do I need to make in my daily life to achieve these goals?
* Step outside my box and be prepared to do personal promotion. This is vital.

What marketing steps are needed to achieve these goals?
* I need to improve and target press releases.


* Don Quixote, Cervantes *
* The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck *
* A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Alexander Solzenitsyn *
* The Dharmapada *
* The Brooklyn Follies, Paul Auster *
* In The Country of Last Things, Paul Auster
* Moon Palace, Paul Auster
* The Music of Chance, Paul Auster
* Leviathan, Paul Auster *
* Mr Vertigo, Paul Auster
* Timbuktu, Paul Auster
* Hide & Seek, Ian Rankin *
* Tooth & Nail, Ian Rankin *
* The Black Book, Ian Rankin *
* Mortal Causes, Ian Rankin *
* Let It Bleed, Ian Rankin *
* Black & Blue, Ian Rankin *
* Sleepyhead, Mark Billingham *
* Scaredy Cat, Mark Billingham *
* Lazybones, Mark Billingham
* The Burning Girl, Mark Billingham

* Vital reading
Colin 1:41 pm | 1 comments |

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Jinx Boy

Some stuff I meant to mention in Friday's post.

I only just noticed that Anne Wicking & Loman Austen left a message on the Dec 16th post about the length of time it took to publish my first book. Assuming you mean Fringe Fantastic (as it was my first in paperback), it took about a month to write the first draft, a further two months of redrafting, during which time I was doing cover shoots, learning about design and layout and managing the publication process more or less myself (with a little help from some good friends), it took about 4 months to complete. A third of a year.

My latest book has taken much longer despite me being supposedly more experienced and knowledgeable. This took a month to do the first draft, which was completed in mid-August. I'm STILL re-drafting this one and am STILL working on the cover and font designs though. I reckon it will be February before this one hits the shelves, so that would be a total time taken to about seven (7) months to complete.

I suppose it all comes down to how easy you find it to match your vision to the reality. Until I am happy with it though, I'm not releasing it, otherwise, what's the point? I do tend to write poetry very fast, as I feel it comes out more naturally that way; thought capturing rather than forced. Rather like eating a chocolate raisin, it's much better and easier to stick it in your mouth and melt the chocolate off, than try to bite away the edges to get you to the fruity part.

I also meant to mention that my short series of Nutty UK articles detailing the Glasgow and Newcastle Madness gigs, were picked up by the editors of MIS (Madness Information Service) and published in their final edition of 2006 (also the 400th). This goes out to over 1000 subscribers, of which hopefully some of them read poetry.

Finally, it was with much delight that I read of the saving of the Little Chef restaurant chain from closure. My life used to revolve around those small, badly serviced motorway stations, so I am delighted that I will be able to continue visiting them for my post-drinking breakfasts. Some things in life, just should NOT be touched.

Anyway, back to Saturday.

Me and Gail found ourselves way out in the sticks in the evening. Wallyford to be precise; a part of East Lothian I am none too familiar with. We were visiting friends who have recently fallen in love and bought a house together. Armed with wine, beer and whisky, we made our way east and were given a tour of their newly built home. Very nice it is, too.

As we reclined on their new leather sofa, we supped on our drinks and turned the music to a nice level so we could talk. Then - BANG!! No, it wasn't an orgy. All the lights went out, the sound disappeared and the house plunged into darkness.

We looked outside. Black as far as the eye could see. All that could be heard was the sound of dogs barking and alarms squealing far of into the distance. Our second blackout in six days - are we jinxed, or what?

The power was restored after a couple of hours of candlelit drinking, and it turned into a long night. 4.30am was the finishing time, and I suffered dreadfully for it today.

The hangover lasted longer then normal. Final punishment I reckon because last night was my last session for a few weeks after all the excesses of the Christmas holidays. I've had enough, quite honestly, and need a break for all the partying. I'm getting too old for this kind of thing.

I'll post my GDR Plans for 2007 shortly. I go into 2007 confident and in good spirits.

PS - I am aware some of my grammar and spelling may not be up to scratch on this blog, but I couldn't give a shit. That's not what this place is about. This is a place of imperfection, of voicing opinion and thoughts, some you might agree with, some you may not. I write this blog as fast as I think it, therefore all of it must make it onto the page post haste. I only give this text a quick once-over for obvious mistakes, for if I treated ever post like a manuscript, you would be reading about events six months ago in my life and that just wouldn't do now, would it? This blog is about getting to know the Writer Me. Nothing more or less. This is not a work of fiction. Mostly.
Colin 12:19 pm | 1 comments |

Saturday, January 06, 2007

2006 GDR Round-Up


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

A Friend To Die For - 40% complete -Started doing catch-up in June but got caught in other things. Slick for NaNoWriMo took over totally in November - 70k in one month.
Stella - Completed in May. Sent out on submission after several re-writes and beta reading. The band, Yello, declined to be involed. Several publishers still waiting.
Working with Websites - 65% complete - No work done to date. Found it hard to get motivated enough with this and too much other work I considered priority. Technical writing isn't creative - it's technical and requitres a different frame of mind.

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

* Complete Stella and A Friend to Die For - Stella completed in May. A Friend to Die For scheduled for June but never got touched.
* Complete drafting and development of Hunting Jack - Complete. Used it to get back on the rails after New Year. First refraft complete Feb. plus ending re-written. Second re-draft started March. Third draft and new chapter completed in June 06. Out on submission, several agents still waiting.
* Look at developing Jackie McCann as a character - Decided to change ending of Hunting Jack so to make it a possible serial, though this not applied as yet Looking at series of books through Jackie's life. Thought of using NaNoWriMo to write HJ sequel but chose something new in Slick instead.
* Write regular non-fiction articles on areas of interest .i.e step-dad, music, Scotland's arts - written a lot of articles and some were published, nothing regular though.
* Be more involved with Scruffy Dog Editorial work - Story/poetry readings, regular column and book review. Magazine moved to quarterly in November due to work contraints on Ed's and amount of submissions coming in.
* Produce more photographic work - No work done to date. Photo session for Poolside Poetry in September at Portobello Beach - freezing cold in shorts and t-shirt. What fun!
* Adapt What A Waste into a stage play - Not started. Not in pipeline any more.

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

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

* Aim to target more paying markets and develop work relations through publications already accepted to. - Made a couple of submissions to Glimmer Train in January. Worked with Wildchild for accepted story, Under the Skin, for March issue. They remembered me from last year and my Heart of a Child story. In Feb, also, several chase-ups to submissions resulted in informal emails in return from editors. Should keep my name fresh with them. Submitted On A Monday Morning in March - more quality correspondence with editor. Received payment for RLS article from Literary Traveler.

* Make Fringe Fantastic as much of a financial success as possible. - Lots of leaflets, cards and posters handed out during Xmas and January month. Book reviewed in Issue 25 of Scotland Magazine and Spring issue of East Lothian Life. New leaflets designed in April. New PR campaign planned for summer festival. Fringe sales poorer than expected in August, although interest was higher than normal, no money made. New ideas for outlets in pipeline at end of 2006.

What creative steps are necessary to achieve these goals?

* Focus more heavily on fiction - Stella and Hunting Jack complete and on submission. Slick worked on heavily in November and December.
* Do lots more research for fictional work - Lots of research needed for HJ, Stella researched heavily. New HJ chapter researched and completed. Some done for Slick but more planned for re-writes in 2007.
* Research, target and develop more paying markets - submissions list now heavily added to in Feb and re-organised to get the best out of my subs. Kept on top of regularly.
* Be more organised with marketing and develop PR relations - working with editors more closely where appropriate. Met a lot of good contacts at the Book Festival.
* Try to make more time to read more books - trying to find time to read is hard. Getting there though. Getting much easier to squeeze in time. Got through more books second half of year.

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

* Grammar - Read more books and pay more attention to what other writers do also.
* Internal Thesaurus - Try to take more notice and use my Thesaurus more often, whic I tend to forget I have.
* Editing - I have read more books on this and worked on a process that I continually tighten.
* Upgrade my PC - New RAM cards added in Feb. XP added in April along with broadband connection and multi-ISB port. Need new internal hard drive and processor upgrade to complete the overhaul. Long-term need new monitor (got flat for Xmas), mouse (new) and keyboard (got). In May got hold of new processor, mother board and sound/graphics cards. Need to find time to put this all together. Also tore apart old PC given to me and may be able to use parts in this for upgrade.

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

* Continue to convince my friends and family to consider me as a writer first and foremost. - constantly telling people I'm a writer first - Telling people about writing achievements when they happen. Not force-feeding this information though. Made good advances in this through work, the Festival and with friends. The word is spreading.
* Continue to devote time and effort to the act of sitting down to write and of the act of research - Not too hard to manage but do need to still dig deeper and harder with any research I carry out. Hunting Jack needed more research to complete into novel form. NaNoWriMo proved what I can do and the level of writing output I can achieve. No excuses from now on.
* Try to develop my writer's network - lots done on this at Book Festival. Joined two new forums.

What marketing steps are needed to achieve these goals?

* Promote FF to a larger audience including the Fringe Festival in August. - Won't be available first week of August due to family holiday. Plans being prepared. Poorer response than expected.
* Continue to develop the process I built when promoting HJ and FF.
* Develop relations with other writers, editors and journalists - working well with Wildchild and getting valuable experience. Hard to meet writers in Edinburgh for some reason though have joined a meetup group. Still to attend as of November due to date clashes.

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

Weekdays - 4 hours minimum - Not achieved in January. Back to normal Feb. March output excellent and same for year until November when it went through the roof. 5am starts seems to be the key for me.
Weekends - 10 hours minimum - Harder to achieve.Utilising notebooks more and more then transferring stories to PC later.

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

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

* Technical writing needs more work - nothing done on this yet
* Poetry for kids - wrote Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 for the 2006 PSH Great Poetry Free-For-All e-book project on May 1st. 280 downloads by end of December.


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

* I want to be a successful and ackowledged writer - I'm more successful and more often recognised by other that this is what I am. With regards to published work, not as mucgh as the previous year but I am building and have been pushing myself into new areas.
* To be able to resign from my job, in the knowledge that I can support my family to at least the standard of living we have now - not there yet.

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

* Complete A Friend to Die For and Stella - Stella complete
* Complete drafting of Hunting Jack - complete
* Find an agent - in progress via HJ manuscript. HJ being put to the side now.
* Establish myself as a good columnist for TSDR - enjoying the column. Moved to quarterly.
* Be published more regularly in non-fiction markets that are paying and higher quality - being published more this year though paying markets still generally elusive.
* Work with my colleagues to develop The Scruffy Dog Review - ongoing. Now quarterly to provide more focus.
* Persuade others around me to see me as a writer first and an office worker second - ongoing - but significant advances made

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

* Lose my beer gut (or a fair portion of it) - bought a dual action trainer and started using. Then stopped. Found out how unfit I was at the ska festival in Falkirk in April!!! May have lost weght during the year, but no net loss. Not too happy about this.
* Do more DIY around the house - did the bedroom, my office and the downstairs bathroom. However, being married, this is of course never enough.

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

* Find the time to start fly-fishing again - got the equipment back home. Found a local club that might suit. Started worm cultivation in back garden in May. Nothing more done.
* Develop my tropical aquarium - decided to incorporate my aquarium into my writing by setting up a new blog to follow my experience with my tank and tropical fishes. Tank going well and learning about it all the time. It's good fun, but the blog stalled in latter half of year. Intend to resurrect, hopefully.
* Find inner peace - still a long, long, long way off although major breakthrough made on March 22nd 2006. Been talking to people about religion and heaven etc. I just cannot accept it. Would like to be able to. Every time I see the news religion moves further away from me - or I from it. Religion not the answer for me.
Colin 8:36 pm | 1 comments |