Monday, November 28, 2011

50000 plus

I just declared my NaNo at 50,430. I freely admit that a very large chunk of that is disjointed ideas and descriptions of places and people, and comments on life and general junk that I've been letting off steam with during the last month. Eventually I'll make a large amount of it fit together to slot into the novel. But for now I've hit the total.

Now I have serious editing work to do but not for a couple of weeks at least!

How to insult people... without really trying

Have you ever read Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Do you remember Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, who was overcoming the boredom of immortality by working his way round the universe and insulting people in alphabetical order? (Arthur Dent? Arthus Philip Dent? You're a jerk. A complete asshole).

Well I've just found something that would have helped Wowbagger enormously. On a blog that  I (used to) read regularly there is an opportunity to tick one of a set of boxes to give instant feedback on the post. I can only asume that it's for Farcebook or Twatter or one of these social networking things.

What are the choices I can tick?  In the order they appear on the page they are:
Oh dear.

I have to say that I'm appalled at the choice and sincerely hope that my (former) bloggy contact didn't actually choose those options herself. I think someone's trying to be funny.  BUT IT ISN'T.

And if you don't know why it isn't funny, I suggest you rethink your standards.

Friday, November 25, 2011

FFF55. More NaNo. Meet Bill

Sorry to keep throwing bits of my NaNo novel at you - but it's rather time consuming at the moment.
Here's another of the cast from the Sea View Hotel.

He dressed casually and his general impression suggested tweed. His outfits gave off a sort of browny-green aura, as if he had been carved from a part of the landscape, and they had the kind of texture that conjured up pictures of moorland and bracken. Sometimes I swear I could hear grouse calling around him.

It's the usual Friday challenge for the G-Man. Go visit him to see more!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday extracts: More Sea Views

My narrator waxed a little lyrical yesterday. I think he might be doing that a lot over the next six days!

Of course they’ve been saying for years that a trip to the seaside does you good. They used to recommend a sea retreat for most things that ailed historic folks. All kinds of people were sent here for the good of their health back in Victorian times – the graveyard’s full of them. You think I’m joking don’t you, but I’m not. Just take a stroll up to the parish church and check out their inscribed list of renowned residents. Writers, musicians, people who were famous just for being famous, seems all very familiar really. These days they end up on a reality TV programme when their careers are dying; back then the less-than-great and not very good were sent away for a coastal sojourn when they were fading.

Some of them took the waters, as they used to say. That meant they draped themselves over plush couches in ornate halls and drank glasses of smelly stuff dripping out of a cracked cliff. They got around to putting a tap on eventually so it appeared more official but however you market the stuff you can’t alter the fact that it’s little better than untreated sewage. You can even try the cure today if you like, the tap’s still working, though no-one makes ludicrous claims about it any more. Those Victorians believed spa water would solve everything from a hangnail to the Black Death but the only thing it actually affects is your digestive system. The quacks and sawbones thought bloodletting and extracting other bodily fluids improved your chances, so they probably believed in beneficial effects of the water. It certainly clears out your system. I tried once. That was quite enough.
They didn’t just drink grimy fluids, though, they bathed in them as well. Doctors told people their ailments would improve if they just lowered themselves up to their waists in ocean water; cold ocean water. Can you imagine suffering from consumption and coughing your lung linings out while you stood shivering in your undies and the tide lapped in around your personal bits? Gives you the creeps if you think too hard, how all those sickly types came for their treatments but never went home. Kill or cure must have proved fatal much more often than it offered a reprieve. I think we probably have the healthiest bunch of historic corpses in any cemetery up and down the country.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy happy happy!

Thanks to Sandra over at Lines of Communication I've just discovered the Writer's Diet website and I've had five minutes of satisfying fun while I checked out whether my writing needs to take more care of itself.

I'm proud to say that my first sample (my current NaNo daily attempt - as written, no editing) said it was fit and trim overall, though my verbs could do with toning.

My second sample (an earlier NaNo daily input, which I've edited a bit) came out as lean. Completely lean!

My third sample (written by my boss, who's always trying to correct my writing) came out as needing toning, bordering on flabby.

I'm laughing my socks off.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday 160

Still dragging out the NaNo extracts!  It's for Monkey Man, as usual. And it's heavily edited from its original to make it 160 characters. But here you are:

Ted Mathews believed he was a big fish in a small pool. The fact that he was actually small fry did not detract from his inflated opinion of his own importance.

Friday, November 18, 2011

FFF55. All aboard. More from my NaNo novel.

OK - you all know what's going on by now so I'm not going to explain.Here's 55 words for the G-Man's weekly challenge, that tell you a little bit more about my novel's narrator, who was sent off to boarding school at an early age.

There were a number who enrolled at the same time, all very young, and dumped on the teachers and domestic staff for a variety of reasons.  A few of the lads came from places where their parents genuinely could not look after them, but most of us shared the dubious honour of being simply unwanted.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday extracts. A bit of history from my NaNo novel

Too busy to hunt for something else for you again. So here's a bit of history from the NaNo novel.

Crowds that turn up at the seaside these days aren’t the same as back in the old times. When I first started touring the coast doing summer seasons all you saw were families. Mum and dad and a couple of kids who spent their time on the beach doing innocent things like building sandcastles and shrimping in the rock pools and playing on the penny slot machines on wet days. It wasn’t until the nineteen sixties that you ever saw groups of young people out by themselves. You won’t remember because you’re far too young but there used to be gangs of lads called Mods and Rockers and they would arrive at the coast on a sunny day and turn the beach into a battleground. You could easily tell them apart so they all knew who to fight: the Mods were on scooters that had a hundred more mirrors than they ever needed to see behind them, and the Rockers were on motorbikes that were polished up so much you’d wonder that they hadn’t rubbed the chrome off. On the worst days the lot of them were armed with knives and happy to kill each other if they had the chance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo half way point.

If I'm going to make it to the end of the month with 50,000 words I should be half way there by the end of today.  I'm pleased to say that I'm 1,538 ahead of that, which is almost a whole day's worth. (you do the long division)

I've been feeling off colour for a couple of days though. I can't promise to be on target for long.

Good luck fellow NaNoers.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

160 characters from NaNo.

Sorry to keep reminding everyone, but I'm NaNoing, so I'm not coming up with anything new for my weekly challenges.  Here's one of the rules of the Sea View Hotel, slightly amended for character count.

We don’t permit guests to bring pets here, because it’s bad enough having the place dripping with wet kids, without the added hazard of a pack of soggy doggies.

Sunday 160 is set by the Monkey Man. For more info, go and visit him. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaNoWriMo 12 days in.

So I worked out that I was a bit behind on the NaNo. Since then I've been trying to write at least 2,000 words a day because the daily target is 1,667 if you do it every day from November 1. I am hoping by the end of today that I shall have caught up to the NaNo target. (Or the 'if you're going to make it to 50,000 words in 30 days you really need to have written this much by now' point.) My best so far has been 2,736 in a day, which was a chapter I LOVED writing. My worst was 2,027, which I thought I'd enjoy but in practice found much harder than anticipated.

Funny old thing, this writing lark.

I missed three days right at the start because I was arranging a big meeting in London. The meeting was a success. Several people have said it was good. The people who actually do the managing (ie. provide what I organise) said that my efficiency made their job much easier than it was with the other person who used to arrange it. Even my boss eventually got round to emailing me, although it took him five days and he didn't actually say well done. A message to say 'you did it' is what passes for praise in our office.

Friday, November 11, 2011

55 words from my NaNo project

As you all know, I'm doing NaNoWriMo again and I'm typing furiously to catch up with the target because my day job got in the way and I started late. So here's 55 words taken straight from yesterday's declared 2080.

The book is about a guy who lives in a hotel because he's spent his entire working life as a theatre dresser and has travelled so much he's got nowhere that he thinks of as home. He's finally settled down, in retirement, in a hotel he stayed in while he was working at the local theatre.  

There are a lot of advantages in living in a hotel, but it has its downside too. Take Christmas, for example. No sooner have we taken down the black and orange streamers and binned the pumpkin lanterns, than we have to declare the festive season and put out the tree and tinsel. People expect it.

Friday's 55 words are, of course, for The G-Man. Go visit him by clicking here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday extracts: Old Henry

I'm busy doing NaNoWriMo and I'm pushed for time to find you an extract this week. So here's a few words from my current NaNo project.  The book's narrator is a former theatrical dresser, so he talks a lot about what people wear.  I'm enjoying that bit, because it's not something I often do. 

Meet Henry:

He dressed neatly but never sharply. His clothes were clean and well ironed, but were worn well past the time that less frugal people would have consigned them to the rag bag. A charity shop would have turned them down. He had a penchant for cord trousers and heavy cotton, checked shirts with a plain white vest or t-shirt under them. He always wore a narrow, leather belt and I don’t believe I ever saw him in a tie. When he went out he wore a dark jacket, even on the hottest days, and the whole lot was topped off with a tweedy flat cap. I suppose he was used to the heat down in the mine and his skin rarely saw sunshine, so he preferred to be well covered up outside. His face and hands showed signs of weathering; not a suntan exactly, more erosion by wind and rain, but the rare glimpses of arms and legs that his outfits afforded showed the rest of him was a very pasty white. And remarkably hairy. Over his shoulder he slung an old canvas bag on a long strap. It was the same kind he had used for years to carry his ‘snap’, as he called it; his packed meal to be eaten during his only break in a working shift.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A quick break


NaNo aside, I thought I'd give you something a little different this morning, though a lot of you might know it. Can you read that word above? It demonstrates one of the challenges that people learning English can face.

Think gh as in 'enough', o as in 'women' and ti as in 'nation'.  And what do you get?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Writing like a woman possessed

I wrote like a mad thing yesterday (and to be honest the text probably reflects that) but I've caught up a day. I'm about a fifth of the way towards my total (which is good) but unless I can write a lot faster it means I need about 38 days in November.

30 days hath September,
April, June and ....... oh hell.

But I'm writing.

Good luck fellow NaNo-ers.

Monday, November 07, 2011

NaNo latest

Just have a look at that badge on the right...

I am SO far behind with NaNo. (Two days of writing behind.)

But I was busy on Thursday with work commitments and shattered on Friday as a result and I've done nothing all weekend. So I've not written for four days but I'm still only two days behind.

There's hope.

Not much....

......but there's hope.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday 160. November.

This time of year is very dark. Nights are drawing in but the lights of the holiday season are still some weeks away. Light a candle -chase away some darkness.


160 characters for the Monkey Man. Best I can do when I'm trying to do NaNo.

Friday, November 04, 2011

A swift 55 words

Green park

Sitting on a bench eating my packed lunch yesterday, I noticed that the rich colours of autumn have reached London. The sun was shining and the trees in all the royal parks were glowing: dressed in their new attire. But I have one important question. Why do they call it Green Park when it’s orange?


I was in London for a meeting. Pretty, isn't it?  Go see the G-Man for others.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Thursday extracts: Beowulf (extracts)


A boat with a ringed neck rode in the haven,
icy, out-eager, the atheling's vessel,
and there they laid out their lord and master,
dealer of wound gold, in the waist of the ship,
in majesty by the mast. A mound of treasures
from far countries was fetched aboard her,
and it is said that no boat was ever more bravely fitted out
with weapons of a warrior, war accoutrement,
swords and body-armour; on his breast were set
treasures and trappings to travel with him
on his far faring into the flood's sway.

But if the fight should take me, you would forward to Hygelac
this best of battle-shirts, that my breast now wears.
The queen of war-coats, it is the bequest of Hrethel
and from the forge of Wayland.

Let Unferth have the blade that I inherited -
this wave-patterned sword of rare hardness.


The eighth century English poem Beowulf is set in the time of the Anglo-Saxons: the time of the Sutton Hoo burial. Similarities exist between the excavated finds and some lines of the poem. In the fanciful tale Beowulf fights a series of monsters to save the kingdom of the Scyldings but there is also a wealth of description about Anglo-Saxon life and customs in the story.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

NaNo day 2

Had another productive day - but I have to because I'm not going to get chance to write anything for about the next three days.  (work and life commitments)  I'm working on the principle that I need to do at least 2,000 words a day on the days I CAN fit in. 

I freely admit that I have incorporated this character's story into the NaNo project because I didn't really have any definite plans for her when I wrote her. Now she has a proper home in the hotel on the cliff. 

Happy NaNo to all who are in it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaNo has begun!

In case you're interested.... here's the first two and the last two paragraphs of chapter one of this year's attempt...  Working title is Sea Views

shorelineJust take a look at that view out there and then question why I choose to live here. I mean, I know that a seaside town out of season is about as exciting as prunes without the custard but when you have the ocean almost knocking on your front door you can’t help but feel good about the world, and believe me, I have had some times when I really needed something to make me feel good about anything. I’ve had a tough life, when I think about it, but I doubt if I would have changed very much, not if I’m honest. It’s been interesting, in much the way of that Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. When you lead the kind of life I’ve had you can’t just give it up though, not even when you retire. The thing is, I’m a people person. I have spent most of my life involved in other lives, looking after my charges, massaging their egos and soothing their fevered brows. Histrionics, mostly, of course, but that’s how it is with your average theatrical type. When you have to provide drama reliably on stage it’s hard to break the habit after you take off the costume and the make-up.  The tales I could tell!  Well, I will, if you like. Just stick with me.

So here I am, Lord of the Manor in a cliff-top boarding house on the wrong side of the country and the wrong side of sixty. I don’t own the place of course, it belongs to Elsie, but I am a permanent resident and I like to think I would be missed if I ever moved on, not that I plan to leave any time soon. I have been here the best part of five years now, not to mention one or two summer seasons in the past, and Elsie relies on me a lot. I act as Mein Host when she does her end-of-season, mini Oktoberfest; handing round the plastic beer steins and making sure the music isn’t off for too long when the CD runs out. I’ve used some of my influence in entertainment circles to find her a few of the old time stars who don’t mind doing a turn or two to attract custom out of season. We had a Sixties pop revival last February that brought in a few paying guests. Mind you, it wasn’t clear whether ‘Sixties’ referred to the era or the lower age limit on the guests.  We booked a group who had a couple of top ten hits back in the day. At least one of the combo featured in the original line-up, although the guitarist died from an excess of high living about thirty years ago and the singer’s hair seemed to have gone in sympathy. The audience enjoyed it though, but they usually do when the lager tap’s running.


I rarely see any of my old associates these days so I can’t give you any celebrity gossip. A very few of my old clients still send me a card at Christmas and there is one dear old friend who visits whenever he is in the area, which isn’t often but we can’t have everything. I won’t name names because it wouldn’t be fair but you will have seen him on television unless you’ve been living in Outer Mongolia for the last twenty years. They might even get some of his shows there, you never know. You will have heard of him if I said who it is but my lips are sealed. I first dressed him when he just left school, learning the ropes in the chorus. He had a wonderful voice, almost angelic, and no-one knows because he’s made his career in a totally different field.  Well, I’ve seen him grow from a member of the crowd in that film musical, you know, the one with all those young lads in it, to a face that everyone recognises, but fame hasn’t damaged him at all. He’s still a gentleman. Not like some.

So I could tell you some stories about the stars I’ve met but you wouldn’t be able to appreciate them properly because I won’t say who they are. No, what I’ve found out over the years is that you get some of the most fascinating stories from ordinary people, the type that stays here on their holidays. In five years I’ve heard some cracking tales and I don’t mind sharing them because the chance of you meeting that cast of characters is about as likely as a comeback by the Beatles, and, since half of them are dead, that’s no chance. I don’t miss much when I sit here observing and I’ve always been a good listener so I get told a lot of secrets. I promise that you’ll never miss the famous ones. Tell you what, let’s get a round in and I’ll show you what I mean.