Sunday, 1 November 2015

NaNo2015: Clearwater

Clear Water, the provisional title for this year's attempt at NaNoWriMo. by the time you read this the starting gun will have fired and the crack of the shot been drowned in the clatter of keyboards

So what is it all about, not the jaunt through creative mayhem and abandon but the book. The page is booked at NaNoWriMo and the coin is still spinning as to whether or not I do it with constant uploads to smashwords NaNo page or post the word count and keep the suspense to myself until I reach the fifty thousand  mark.

The story looks back to the origins of the Grange and the time when Jardine dissolved his previous business partnership with Michael Spear and walked, or perhaps sailed away from Hoplite and the world of technology looking for a space of his own; in effect putting clear water between his present and his past, the story may look at the relationship between Jardine and Michael Spear's wife, Vivienne, and their daughter Jessica, who much to her mother's chagrin seems to have more in common with her father's former business partner than her own parents.

The story may explore the curious relationship between the Grange and the civilian authorities, how did they become an asset; a discreet meeting place and a useful tool for exploration and investigation.
What brought the main protagonists, Bill Jardine, Don Steel, Kurt Langhers and others, where and how did Josie Burke appear on the scene, and cross the threshold to become Jardine's right hand.

How do I uncover the introduction between characters who now seem so familiar, and are there others who feature in this part of the story and have now moved on, taking a different route through life and moving away, I'll just have to write it and find out.

Must be off now, I have a few thousand words to write...before midnight in thirty days!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Job Spec...

What do you call a fledgling work in progress, where the title is provisional and the story-line is embryonic? Where everything about is insubstantial and ephemeral? An idea!

Daylight saving has run out of time, spent for another year, the ghosties and ghoulies are hanging around the shops, vying for space with the advance guard of Santa's legions and writers, aspiring writers, dreamers,  scribblers and the literary foolhardy are braced for a mad dash through November; burning their way past Guy Fawkes on this side of the pond and stuffing as much in as they can before Thanksgiving on the other side.

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Train Now Standing...

The complete text of The Obedience of Fools went through auto-vettor earlier tonight (22 October) and is now being processed for Smashwords Premium catalogue in preparation for distribution, retailing at $3.99, and for a limited period with the discount of 25% by entering the code BE23Z. (Valid until the 30th November).

The book cleared Premium Catalogue selection just after midnight Friday and will be on its way through distribution in the next few days, Follow the  trail at smashwords and further down the line when The Obedience of Fools appears at the online retaillers. Direct links from cheekyseagull to the online stores will be installed as and when the book appears.

Enjoy, keep up with the action at The Grange at smashwords!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Proof of Obedience

The Obedience of Fools; text completed and undergoing an edit and proof read to nail down the obvious glitches and grammatical goof ups. The updated and formated text should be uploaded to smashwords within the next few days, I can't say exactly when at the moment, watch this space and @MartynSeagull for the latest news. The text will then go through the Premium catalogue selection and once that hurdle is cleared it should appear in the retailers shortly after. If you already have a copy and want to finish the story, please help yourself.  New readers on the Premium channels will find there is a tag of $3.99 and it will take its place as the fourth in the Grange Series at smashwords for the same price.

A funny thing happpened the other night, Thursday 15 October 2015, as I wrote the final pages. The last scene had a particular engine waiting on the platform at Goathland on the North York Moors Railway, heading the train to Pickering. The LMS Stanier Black 5 45428 "Eric Treacy" is the type of engine in some versions of the myth of the Strategic Steam Reserve  that were hidden away and is unique in the class. Very few Black Fives were named (barely half a dozen)during their service with the London Midland Scottish Railway or later with British Railways;  45428 "Eric Treacy" was named after she was retired and went to work the Heritage Railways

The scene has "Eric Treacy" waiting to depart, and just to make sure I had the details spot on, for dramatic effect, I checked the website of the North York Moors Railway and discovered that "Eric Treacy" was heading the working locomotive list for that day. Even as I wrote the last words of the text, drawing The Obedience of Fools to a close, the locomotive in the book may have been standing at the station waiting to depart!

The locomotive honours the former Bishop of Wakefield, Eric Treacy, a noted railway photographer who recorded the last days of steam and published his photographs in numerous books. In the introduction to "The Lure of Steam" (pub: Ian Allen 1966, reprinted 1967) he describes sitting in Church House at Wakefield and watching a sleek Deltic, the largest diesel electric locomotive on British Railways at the time, crossing the viaduct with the London train and below it, running under the arches a Stainer Black 5 belching smoke on the Yorkshire to Lancashire line with a string of coal wagons. His powerful images evocatively recall the changeover to diesel and the demise of steam made more poignant in monchrome.
The medium lends itself to the sense of things past.

One of the strongest arguments against the existence of the SSR is the feasability of maintaining it over the long term, preserving the skills and knowledge and the basic infrastructure to ensure its viability, even down to simply running the engines and carriages.

A government reserve would require masses of support and maintenance, and always be at the mercy of policy changes; perhaps that is what happened. The policy changed, the designated engines were shunted around, and the counter strike brought it down, but another level, driven by a passion for the engines themselves swung into action and in the confusion of move and counter move brought enough engines and rolling stock to where they could be kept safe.

A collection of locomotives and rolling stock scattered across the length and breadth of the countryside, so widely dispersed that it couldn't be crippled during an attack instead of locked down in a handful of easily targeted locations. Free of government policy and the meanness of bean counters entrusted to those who knew its value and its worth...

Manned by volunteers who shared their passion for the beauty and splendour of steam, harnessing the nostalgia for a better time, passing on the intricate knowldge and practices of running steam on the railways and out of the dark shadows of the Cold War came something that leaves a warm glow.

Tell me it doesn't happen to you; when you breathe in the smell of the loco, feel the warm touch of swirling vapour and hear the rasp of the smoke and steam from the chinmey. The pistons start to lift the pulse from resting and the steel sinews of the drivng rods and cranks turn the wheels as the train begins to movel the whole thing comes alive - and there's that lump again, stuck in your throat!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Working the numbers...

The countdown is under way, NaNoWriMo have rebooted the website ready for a fresh assault on creativity and a 30 day jaunt through imaginative abandon. Professional and amateur writers alike are sharpening pencils, stockpiling notebooks, caffeine loaded (and some none caffeine) drinks are being brought in, batteries charged and ideas shuffled into some sort of order on bits of paper across the globe.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Where does it all come from?

I wonder myself sometimes, most of the posts on this site, and perhaps many others are a link in a chain reaction, someone posts on the net and the search engines lob it down the line to a feed and a new reader picks it up. Maybe the post fits a sequence of thought already trundling through the reader's mind and away they go...

Fingers dancing like dervishes across the keys, totally confusing the spillchucker with obscure elements of language, or simply dreadful spelling because the words are tumbling out faster than the keyboard can cope.

(Do you ever think it would be a good idea to think straight on to the machine - knowing what goes through my head at times, definitely not!)

A lot of the posts are sparked off by something I have read or picked up across the Internet. Feel free to comment on anything you see or read, drop me a note via the contact here or at Grab a sample of the books at smashwords or from the linked retailers. Be daring and buy the entire book(s) (Resists urge to plead and grovel to generous nature of lovely reader!)
Give it a review, tell me what you like about it - OK, yes, tell me what you thought was totally crap too.

I tell myself there are no bad reviews, some I will like, others maybe not so much. Oscar Wilde famously remarked there is no such thing as bad publicity, and the Duke of Wellington is remembered for publish and be damned. The context may not be exactly the same as ours, but the risk is the same.

Positive thinking helps, but negative reviews go with the job. I publish (self-publish) and you read, and review.

I write the books, you, dear reader, write the reviews. I scribble down the stories I want to write, there is no-one leaning over my shoulder telling me what to put down: and I acknowledge and respect your freedom of expression, even when it smarts a bit!

Enjoy the books and the blog, I'm off to write some more...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Cheap at Twice the Price?

E-Book sales fall after new Amazon Contracts; the article in the Wall Street Journal (and posted at The Passive Voice) examines the recent sales figures in the wake of the recent negotiations between the corporate giant and the major publishers.

All is not well, the initial results show a downturn in sales, with books from the big five averaging over $10 compared to all the other 2015 e-books marked up at $4.95.
I'm having to do a bit of guesswork here, working the calculation that the reaction to spending $5 as opposed to $10 is similar to that between £5 and £10 in GB pounds. I'll quite cheerfully dug into the pocket for a £5 purchase, but £10, calls for a bit of thinking about. It is possible to find e-books priced the same as hardback, and higher than the paperback. The latest top 100 on Kindle shows no books priced above $10.