Admin Round-up

It’s been a while since I did an admin post, probably because I don’t use my blog nearly enough.

However I’m definitely doing better on that front. As part of my daily challenge there’s writing going into my blog every day. Not just the daily flash fic challenge posts, I’m also working on:

  • Book reviews (I’m not good at these so I’m taking my time on my first one to establish what i want to get out of my reviews – otherwise known as the first attempt is already 4,000 words long and needs a good editing massacre)
  • Already one additional flash fic not related to the daily challenge, there might be otehrs to come, especially as it’s the weekend and plenty of time to write
  • I’m wokring on a full short story based on one of my Flash fics right now, and there’s several others begging for promotion to short story status, (either by sequel, prequel, or retelling)
  • I’m going to try and cover off some news stories and such
  • I’m planning a hand ful of articles based on my experiences for the first couple of months of the new year

 So, now’s a good time to review how my blog looks, and how it works.

Since I used WordPress, themes are a dime a dozen, though finding one I like is quite difficult. I’ve temporary settled on one called Scrappy By Caroline Moore, but with a couple of modifications for a more readable font, a header and picture of Ilkley.

Decembers Theme

It’s absolutely lovely, but it still isn’t quite what I’m after. I just can’t quite find one. That’s fine though, it gives me a new challenge, along side writing more frequently. I’m going to try and design my own theme – as with many things outside of writing, and often including writing, it’ll be ambitious but rubbish. I’m willing to give it a go though.

Speaking of ambitious I want a nice theme that can handle variety too – that way I can use a plug in or something to give certain categories their own theme when accessed. I.e. a sci fi category that has very similar theme to the front page but maybe has darker colours with bright blue detail, and a header pic that’s a nice generic sci fi pic (royalty free or self created of course). Each of my main writing categories would have their own theme, ones I don’t use often would be left with the main theme, as would posts in other areas, (except maybe poetry).

It also comes with a second job, reorganising my categories and tags and stuff. Which is on my to do list anyway.

I may go through and hide some of my earlier posts that I’m really not happy with, and edit them up to be fresher, up to date, and not ridicuously awful – plus you know, quick win on new content. I don’t mean that purely as a cheat, but because genuinely they’ll need plenty of work, and be changed enough to be pretty much new.

I also need to go through clean up my plugins, and update my pages to be either more up to date, or less date specific.

Lastly, these jobs are not a job for my blog directly, but I need to go through and organise my Picaso account better, and arrange permissions properly. I’d like to use that as the primary source for my blog images and stuff. While i have plenty of bandwidth and stuff, it makes sure i have plenty, and should the worst happen and my site is wiped, not only do I have frequent emaled database backups, my iamges aren’t in the same place as my site.

Plus there must be a good plug-in somewhere that can conenct picasa to my blog to make it easy to share media.

I’ve also started a tumblr account, and a sperate twitter account, (thus seperating writing subject from my business/travel/random fun twitter account). While this may have no obvious advantages right now, next year I’m going to try and actually drive traffic to my blog.

Courtesy of the great people I’ve met on #NaNoYorks, there’s already been a big jump, (but in fairness they are lovely people, and will click most links you show them, even if it takes them to a animated gif of a man naked (facing away from the camera) jumping for joy).

visitor-chart

So, that’s my state of the nation speech, covered pretty well.

If you had no faith in me as a blogger, lets see if I can turn that around. If might fail to achieve my plans – but I’d rather fail spectacularly then never have tried.

Space photos from teen’s £30 eBay camera are out of this world | from The Sun

This is fantastic – when can I try?

Ooh come to think about it, I’ve got a raspberry pi that could be interesting near space. Not sure there’d be much 3g coverage for control, but a radio might work.

Might be out of my league, but I’ll add putting a satellite into space to my bucket list. How fantastic would it be?

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/4528949/Space-photos-from-teens-30-eBay-camera-are-out-of-this-world.html

28th Birthday Poem

So in the interests of establishing my own personal traditions, as with last year I’ve written a birthday poem, and as with last year its later than my birthday. We are getting closer though, last year it was a week, (or two),  this year its just a day, (or now two, as its one in the morning).

I make no claim to it being especially good, or an annual highlight to the poetry scene, (though my 27th Birthday Poem is the most read page on site – from people Googling for the exact words of the title I guess), its just a poem about my birthday and what the day means to me.

A Year to be Surpassed

A shadow fell over yesterday,
I turned twenty-eight,
It’s not that aging is bad,
But that another year has gone.

For every joy I’ve had to pay,
Yet seek joy come what may,
The same old slate,
Without a wipe date,
I will not say it was all sad,
And it didn’t make me mad.

The beast of success I did not slay,
My performance didn’t rate,
Yet for moments I am glad,
With a niece as lovely as a chiffon.

Another milestone be gone,
Next year I’ll have myself outdone.

©, Jonathan Lawrence 2010

P.S. I should add, as a cautionary note – I haven’t listed anything other than my niece being born as being explicitly good or bad. So I should note, that since my niece was born, I’ve enjoyed a fantastic time, being an uncle, thanks to some fortunate circumstances I’ve lived like a king, I’ve been to Prague, and I’ve come here to the Science Festival with some great people. Things like this were the moments I am glad for – just in case anyone thinks that I think I should be so rich and fortunate in life that the past two or three months have been less than notable.
When I think about it, it is quite strange that my niece coming into this world has marked such a massive turn around for my year, right at the end. However, life returns back to normal from here on in, I need to to start saving to make next year that bit more magical, all year round.
So to all my family and friends who have provided the highlights to my year, those moments I am glad for, have helped keep me sane when all else might have rendered me mad – I would like to say thank you. I hope I can do the same for you.

Oh and Happy Birthday to Aspiring.org

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Just a quickie, my blog is a year old this month – how fantastic, probably not dedicated as much time to it as I should – however still feels great to hit a mile stone.

In the past year I’ve written forty-eight published posts, five pages, across sixteen categories, using one hundred and eighty-three tags, I’ve recieved fourteen comments, sixty-one photos across four galleries.

I hope to build from here, and keep this going – I’ve enjoyed my time here.

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Aha! Found You!

My muses have elected to return to me it seems. I suddenly have the ability to write again, and am doing so with gusto working on a new project. I know, I have lots of unfinished projects I should be working on, but I’m just enjoying writing right now.

So the new project, it’s currently titled Journals of a Space Corsair, and is a sci-fi piece. Inspired by the concept of the Bio of a Space Tyrant novels by Piers Anthony, which I read recently, and once I finished reading those books, I also read Michael Crichton’s Pirate Latitudes, between the two of them, this whole science fiction universe of mine was inspired and created in my mind. What’s more is I’ve been able to put it into words, something I’ve struggled to do for the past eighteen months.

It’s a nice feeling, not too many words just yet, but just passed the 20,000 mark in two weeks so that’s a comfort.

The way I’m doing this project is blog posts, it’s an auto-biography, so I’m going to write it as a series of confessionals, the man’s story in his own words, detailing his good deeds, but mostly his crimes, the lifestyle he led, and the suffering he brought and received. The hardest part is not giving in to my tendency to make the character a flawed good guy, or to have the character swing from bad to good. I’m trying to write something that reflects a man, and not an archetype from a TV series. That isn’t to say there isn’t an arc, in fact there’s a pretty big one, and my aim is the character goes from illegality to legitimacy, and then back to illegality. Times are turbulent, wars rise up and allegiances change.

I do feel the need to acknowledge Piers Anthony, and Michael Crichton, as their books are a massive influence on this story, it was their books that really lit my imagination on fire.

From Michael Crichton I tried to take a sense of how pirates actually operated, and in many ways how the new world worked, the trade routes between the colonial lands, the stopping off points like Jamaica, which I’ve tried to translate the spirit of into worlds and space stations.

From Piers Anthony, obviously I’ve tried to take the format, the fictional autobiography of a significant figure in future history, I’m also borrowing some of the technology he mentions in his books, the travelling via a beam of light, over massive distances, which is as reasonable a way to explain interstellar travel as any. Of course it is fraught with its own difficulties in a story that takes place in real time, with politics, wars, and tactics – I can’t really afford it taking decades to travel from one planet to the other. Instead, I shall embellish the idea with faster than light energy – so it takes days and weeks to travel between the stars.

I think it is important to acknowledge where a story comes from – it is not my intention to plagiarise these amazing authors, but they have inspired within me a tale which I think is unique and distinct in its own right. Besides when it comes to science fiction, it’s never easy to come up with easy ideas for propulsion, and story telling in general tends to form into archetypes. I think that’s one of the advantages of writing an account of a self confessed bad guy, while not ground breaking or unique, it is a point of view that is carried far less often than that of a hero, heroically battling to save the world.

My intention is to post up a chapter (and if I write it right, it will be more of a self contained short story, which feeds into the overall tale), every fortnight, detailing a significant memory of this space corsair. I won’t be launching it right away, as I want to build up four or five chapters ahead, this gives me a nice cushion with which to edit the stories (because while the muse does flow, it tends not to check the grammar for me, nor does it worry about the annoying inconsistencies of writing large pieces of work in small bits). Also, my sister’s baby is due next month, I’m on holiday in Prague in August, and I’m off to the British Science Festival in Birmingham this September, so there’s plenty to interrupt my schedule.

Speaking of the British Science Festival, I’m really looking forward to it, it feeds a lot of knowledge in my science fiction, such as the power system for the ships in my story – I learned that from a presentation I went to on fusion energy, I always favoured the methodology employed in the tokamak fusion generators, rather than the method involving lasers, purely because it seems to me that once such devices as ITER are operational and producing massive quantities of energy, we would be able to learn from this and scale the process down to have a device that can sit aboard a starship and produce the kind of energy I need for propulsion, FTL (faster than light) travel, and of course the staple of most space based science fiction, the weapons.

I am genuinely excited to be writing again, and long may it continue. Nanowrimo is in November (it’s always in November, hardly a surprise there), and this year I’m going to ace it. Mark my words.

A Neighbourhood To Call My Own…

Nostalgia is a funny thing – it’s always there, and so much seems better than it really was, in memory, but when you actually sit down and examine in it, suddenly it’s not so rosy. Like watching that old television show you remember as a kid, it might have seemed fantastic, amazing plots, brilliant characters – but in the light of day it was actually pretty shit. Of course, this is not always the case, and when it is not, it is a wonderful thing.

Right now, I am watching Magnum P.I., which let’s face it, is crass populist television, but at its best. I remember watching this show as a kid, and I’ve got to admit the Ferrari helped (I loved cars as a kid, mechanics son and all that), but even now it seems quite fun. It has aged better than say Knightrider.

That is not the reason for this post however, I am sure I could fire up a poem – but I ended up watching it after flicking through the channels in the mood for something nostalgic. It all started with an email, from Yahoo, they are closing down Geocities, and it was their umpteenth reminder that I should go and download my website there, or transfer it to their paid for hosting service.

Continue reading

Still struggling…

I’m still struggling with writers block. It’s spread from my ability to write fiction, to my ability to write poetry, and write here. It is having a decidedly melancholy affect. I’d hoped a bit of travelling might snap me out of it, but no such luck.

I think I need a crisis, I had a crisis this time last year, and coming out of that crisis I started writing again. However, the new improved me deals with problems a lot better, so few even get close to a minor crisis, never mind the life altering ones from last year.

I am now quite scared of NaNoWriMo looming over me, I’ve got the ideas, but without the ability to actually write, it’s fairly meaningless.

I could create a crisis, however that doesn’t fit with the new me that works hard not to get life in a state. I’ve gotten into pretty bad financial trouble this year (after years of owing no more than £400 at anyone time), however I’ve even dealt with that so that I’ll be debt free again in by this time next year, and am comfortable with that.

I could quit my job, which does have double benefits, it would be a major crisis, I wouldn’t be able to fix easily, and I would have time to write. However, I’d have nothing to write on, never mind anywhere to actually write – so possibly a level of crisis too far.

Likely, it’s still temporary, and that once November hits, I’ll be flying. I’m actually planning on doing something insane for NaNoWriMo (assuming I can find the ability to write again), and that is enter NaNoWriMo twice. That’s right, I’m aiming for the 100,000 words in a month bracket. I’ll be doing it with two different stories – however I personally feel that 100,000 in a month, on one story, that could retain 75% to 85% of it’s words after editing, might be worth pursuing. I was tempted to do it one story, however, I worry that I’ll balk under the challenge and settle for 50,000, I don’t want to settle. With two entries, settling is still a win and a failure, to have a true win, have to achieve both.

What I’ll aim to do, is get the first one complete in the first fortnight, and the second in the second fortnight, so I’m not having to switch between stories (which I can do, but might cause problems).

For now though, I’d settle for some good writing for the rest of September, and through October.

Another problem with writers block, it forces you to analyse every idea, as you seek the in roads to it, that will allow you to translate imagination to words on a page.

I just had a brilliant idea for a poem, for about a second, before I realised it’s a subject that’s been more than adequately covered in myth and legend.

There was tiny spider (but with long thin legs) in the bath, and it was stuck, but kept trying to get up the sides. It’d get so far, and then fall, but used it’s web to limit it’s fall, then tried again, then the web broke – so it started over, and nearly gets to the top, and then falls again.

Eventually, it drifts along the length of the path, trying to find a decent climb, and it makes it! I actually felt quite happy for it (even as I don’t have any like for spiders after being bitten by one, yuck). Then the damned thing, not satisfied with it’s monumental climb (they’re not after all known for escaping baths), then proceeded to climb a shampoo bottle. It must have realised it was disappointing when it get to the top, as it got back down again. Teetered on the edge of going back in the both, but instead choose to use the grouting to climb up to the ceiling instead.

It was amazing to watch. Unfortunately, it’s already a well observed phenomeon, kind of – Robert the Bruce famously is supposed to have seen a spider trying, and failing, then trying again, to get a web from one side of a cave to another, and it inspired him to try again and rebel against Edward. He still failed, but the moral is no less true.

As I said, it was amazing to watch – even more amazing, aside from this ickle spider, there was a much bigger spider (where the ickle one had legs no thicker than a hair, this had legs that were like 0.5mm – and a much bigger body and mandibles that were very visible (shudders). To be fair, I suspect they were the same breed, but probably the bigger one was considerably older (I believe a week might be descriptive enough of age in the life cycle of a spider – but I’m no arachnologist afterall), just sat there watching. I couldn’t decide if it was keeping the little spider as an emergency meal for later, or not. After the little spider escaped the bath, it turned and was facing the wall (it had been facing the length of the bath for the entire time little spider had been trying to escape), so I wonder if it was thinking, damn – if only I were smaller, and lighter, with legs that could find every tiny bump and gap to get me up – I could make it. Or maybe it was just cursing it’s luck, as the little spider succeeded, while it had sat and done bugger all.

Well there you go, like Robert the Bruce (allegedly), that little spider has inspired me too – because I’ve written a few words. Maybe I will write a poem about the two spiders… it’s a subject that may have been covered, (but then, lets face it what hasn’t?), but it was a pretty major thing for me.

I love moments like that, I once wrote down a few pages about a pigeon with a clubbed foot that I saw at the train station while travelling to work once. Still have it, might share that too. In fact, I think I might share inspirational animal stories everyday next week, I’m feeling well and truly inspired.

Thanks for reading, if you did 😉

JL Legend
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