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.

Aspiring.org Repatriated…

Well I’m back in sunnyfoggy Leeds once again. Prague was amazing, took a lot of pictures, saw a lot of sights, ate a lot of food, and drank a lot of beer. Perfect holiday. I also squeezed in two and a half chapters of Memoir of a Space Corsair.

I would thoroughly recommend Prague as a decent retreat, though there are plenty of distractions – the goulash is amazing, and the semi-dark beer is awesome.

Now I’m back, I want to focus a bit on my writing once more. I’m finally back ahead again with my current serial, having two and a half chapters currently unpublished onsite. However, I won’t be posting anything for a little while, I want to take down the first four chapters and do a thorough editing on them, cut out some of the extrenuous detail, close a few plot holes, and clarify some of the confusing elements. Unfortunately, though it was always my intent not to, very little editing was done on what I’ve posted. Just a spelling and grammar check. The idea was to just write – however having gone through the initial stories to compile a list of characters, character attributes, places, ships, and events (both covered and implied), I found far too many mistakes to just let it lie. So for the next few weeks, I will be concentrating on a thorough editing of the initial, and the unpublished chapters, to try and form a more coherent story.

It’s a good place to do it, the first unpublished chapter establishes Arsène Frassin into a different situation from before, where he has more control of his actions, the second removes most of the metaphysical shackles that bind him, and allow him to flourish as an individual, and not just someone trapped by circumstances (though, as there are no magic wands, some circumstances are still very much present, its the form that allows his freedom of action). This is where the story really begins, we’ve cleared the back story, and that is an excellent achievement.

There are other things I’ll be doing the next few weeks too –

  • I will be completing my notes on the story, which will help to avoid future plot holes, and blatant mistakes, (the worst of which is forgetting a character completely, and having him turn into a different character).
  • I’ll also get some of my notes written up, which is in the form of a writing diary, a kind of behind the scenes look (not that there’s much to see, but I’m sure there will be as the story really takes off).
  • I’m also going to plan out a few a chapters ahead, and give a rough gudie, for myself, as to where I’m going with this (read more of this further down)
  • Lastly, need to do my Autumn playlist in Spotify

Being a child of modern times, I spend a lot of time online, and one of my favourite sites is Ctrl+Alt+Del an online webcomic, which is updated regularly, and aimed at gaming, and gamers (though I’m not really one, I do play some games so get most of it). Tim that creates the comic, has recently just finished a storyline, where fans could email in their choice for the next action. A bit like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of years ago (one of which I have on my Kindle). Now he’s finished, he’s just done this post, in which he has a tree diagram of the choices that were made, and were possible. I’ve never done anything like this for a story (I’ve done story boarding and such, but its always a linear thing, and usually never in great detail). I quite fancy giving a similar diagram ago.

I would definately have decision paths, for my purposes though, I would literally fill loads of them with sample short adventures, which gives me the choice each time I write a new chapter to go one way, or the other, or stick to the core story. I think it would be a fantastic tool because it allows me to have both a plan, and an evolving story – as each sub adventure, in some way or form will add something to the core storyline, while also keeping to my main aim of a exploring as many different space adventures as possible. The great thing about writing in serial form is that if I don’t want to further the main story line for several issues, that’s okay, as long as it eventually ties back in.

So, writing wise, that’s my next few weeks sorted. It’ll give me a October to then squeeze some quality writing in, before I break off from existing projects and switch over to NaNoWriMo 2010.  Yes, its not far away at all now.

I think science will probably feature in my NaNoWriMo novel this year, purely because next week I’ll be at the Science Festival in Birmingham, absorbing lots of lovely science to be recycled into my writing.

[nocrosspost]

Then, soon enough it will be Christmas, and the year will draw to a close. It’s been an amazing year, and we’re only three quarters through so far. Why am I getting so far ahead? Just so I can mention that next year Aspiring.org will go international again (as in I’ll be holidaying across at least three different countries next year, go me). This last paragraph is of no relevance, but it makes me happy, so tough.

[/nocrosspost]

Its Been A While

Reports of my demise, well weren’t really reported at all – but if they were, they weren’t true. I’m still here, this heart of mine beats its strong baddum baddum.

It has been a while since I posted, and the last time I posted I admitted failure, I had lost NaNoWrimo09, however it wasn’t the end of the world. Unfortunately, the writers block didn’t stay long gone, and since then I’ve struggled to write again. Even the words for blogging just wouldn’t come. As I said though, its not the end of the world. It never really is, however depressing it feels. That said, I’m feeling ready to write again, a whole chasm of ideas has started to fill the void where inspiration had previously been lacking.

I also have a brand new toy to help with my writing. Since I switched to using the Nokia 5800, I’ve been struck by the lack of keyboard, and many key features of my beloved Nokia E71, so until I get another new phone that combines the great features of the E71, and the 5800 – I needed a filler, which was either going to be a carrying my laptop everywhere, or gadget time. The gadget in question is an electronic pen. I got the cheapest one I could – however it is incredibly amazing. Forget your iPads, and you tablets, the future is pen and paper!

I’ve never been adverse to handwriting my fiction – in fact I find it far easier to transfer my thoughts to paper than to a screen, however I fail at typing up, and at some point I’m going to get stuck because my handwritten pages are hard to read, and get damaged, or go missing. There is no way I can type up thirty thousand words of my handwriting, especially not when most of my writing time comes while travelling. However, the digital pen comes with software to not only catalogue your written word into a database, but to also convert it into text.

Obviously the catch here is that the quality of your handwriting will affect how well your scribbles can be converted into text, the software can’t make miracles. I’ve found, though, that as long as it can hit 70%, you’re correcting, not rewriting whole sections. Which suits me, as it lets me slip a bit of editing in the process.

I bought the most basic one I could find, (by basic read cheap), and the look of the product does reflect this – however the actual quality is so much better.

It comes in two parts, the pen, and the sensor that does the recording. You clip your sensor to the top of the page, and then start writing. When you complete a page, you hit the button, and it starts a new one in memory. Best gadget buy of the year for me, its going to take a lot to top that. Here’s a link to the one I bought: http://bit.ly/bKV5OG 

Hopefully that’s going to help me achieve some writing – but toys themselves aren’t whats necessary, I realise now I’ve been having real difficulties at focusing on the tasks I set myself. So I need to work on my habits – and this is a general life thing, rather than specifically a writing thing. So I’m going to introduce some new behaviours, such as going to a coffee shop once a week to chill out, and read or write. Getting back to going to the gym, get myself fit, doing more puzzles to get my brain engaged, rather than switching off the second my mind wanders. I should probably stop making lists of things I intend to do – but we all have our vices. There are never any promises with me, I get distracted far too easily to even promise myself something – but I’m going to try. Writing isn’t just about writing, its about making better worlds, and better people to me, especially a better me.

In the mean time, I think I’m going to spend this week writing a couple of three hundred word short stories, just to get myself warmed up for the rest of the year to come.

My Writing Toolbox

I don’t really have a toolbox, however I do have certain things that are either must have’s for my creativity, or they’re tools that make my creative output quicker, slicker, and better than without.

There are two sets of toolboxes, since poetry and writing do require different things for me. There are also categories within toolbox, from books, to stationary, to software.

I’m going to look at some of the things in my toolboxes, things that are special to me, or are especially useful to me. Continue reading