Still in hiding...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007, 9:34 PM

I'm just surfacing to say I'm still alive. I've been swamped with one thing or another for the last couple of weeks and haven't had the time to blog, read, write, or just about anything. It's frustrating because I want to finish my rewrite (just over half way done) and SS@S has sent me a copy of one of her novels which I really want to read. All that and some personal stuff that's bothering me (a long story that goes back more than two years but still isn't resolved) and it's hard to do just about anything right now. I'm just keeping my head down and getting on with it for now.

See you at the other end. :)

A weekend away

Friday, July 20, 2007, 7:45 PM

I'm about to head to Carrick-on-Shannon where I'll be playing with Nina Armstrong at the Indie Summer festival (, so I'll be getting a break from writing and work for a couple of days. It's quite possible I may drink some beer during the proceedings.

For those of you who are counting the minutes until midnight (there's some book or other coming out - something about wizards): Although I don't share your passion, I do hope it's everything you're wishing for. Enjoy it.


Rewrite Progress Report #1

Sunday, July 15, 2007, 10:18 PM

I've just spent a pretty solid weekend working on the rewrite, and I'm about a quarter of the way through. This seems like very fast progress, but I've been helped enormously by my beta readers. Most of the novel's larger faults were in the early to mid section, so hopefully things will smooth out as I go - apart from a couple of chapters nearer the end which need complete rewrites.

I've found a couple of things that neither I nor my beta readers spotted. There were two chapter eights, and two chapter fifty-twos. Also, there's a huge, glaring logic error in the penultimate scene that I only noticed when I was reviewing notes.


Anyway, I'm having fun with this so far.

The Rewrite has Begun

Saturday, July 14, 2007, 4:34 PM

Following what I hope is a decent cooling off period of about six weeks, I have begun the first substantive rewrite of the WIP. When I did rewrites of the previous novel it was without the benefit of beta readers' input or a period of abstinence, meaning those rewrites were no more than a spit and a polish.

This time, it's different. I guess this is where the real graft is. The first scene alone took a significant amount of time to rework. I'm acting on most of the comments made by my beta readers, sometimes working directly from their suggestions, and just as frequently coming at it from a new angle. The first chapter has been split in two, with chapter two starting at the original version's scene break. Through some fairly simple additions the whole first scene's tension has been ramped up a notch or two, I think.

But it's taking time. Some parts of the novel need more work than others, but it's going to be a slog. Bring it on, I say.

Rewrites, Rain and Puppies

Monday, July 09, 2007, 9:41 PM

I haven't posted for a while 'cause it's been mad season around these parts, what with work and various other things.


I've spent the last week gearing up to start the second draft of the WIP. I've gone through all the comments provided by my kind beta readers (a surprising number of which happen in the same places, and even a few times with the same words!) and noting what I might do about them. There's more work ahead and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in. I posted a short story featuring a cameo from the WIP's protagonist over at the Crapometer to an extremely mixed response. I got some of the most glowing praise I've ever received and some of the most blunt critique. So, who's right? I guess, as with most things in life, the truth is somewhere in between. What I do know almost certainly is that the story didn't quite stand on its own - though I think it still has its merits as a companion piece to the novel.


I am sick and bloody tired of all the rain. It's been going on for weeks, now. Thankfully I haven't been affected by the flooding, but a few people across the Irish Sea in Britain have been killed, and a huge amount of damage has been done. It's been constant, just one deluge after another. Really, enough is enough. No more rain. Please.

Oh, and if you think climate change isn't happening, then you're an idiot. If two months' worth of rain falls in a couple of hours, something is clearly up.


I almost bought a dog over the weekend. I've been thinking about it for a while and had been researching various breeds to see what might suit. I'd like something pretty small as I live in town, though I have a decent sized garden, but I didn't want something that would make me look ... well ... gay. I'd kind of settled on the idea of a Bulldog because they're fat, lazy bastards, which would probably suit me to the ground. Anyway, on Saturday I went to the local pet store to buy feed for my Cockatiel, Django, and they had a litter of Miniature Jack Russell puppies (apparently Miniature JRs aren't really a breed, they're just short asses) that were just six weeks old.

I could have eaten them, they were so cute.

I talked to Anne, the nice pet store lady, about it. I came home and did some more research on it. As much as I wanted one (and I mean waaaaaaaaanted one) I had to be sensible. JRs are apparently little dynamos, and hate to be left alone. The deciding factor was my existing housemate, Django. Django is a small animal. Jack Russells are bred to hunt small animals. I didn't want to arrive home one day to find my new friend with feathers stuck between his teeth and a look on his face that says, "Wasn't me."

So, no puppy for Conduit.


Poltergeist, and the Decline of Contemporary Horror

Sunday, July 01, 2007, 6:56 PM

It's a while since I've posted because I've been an extremely busy boy. I took advantage of some down time this weekend to do a couple of nice things.

One: I watched Poltergeist.

I recorded it during the week on my Sky+ box, and watched it over the weekend. It's a long time since I've seen this movie, and it was a good print in the original aspect ratio (hooray for Turner Classic Movies). I'd forgotten how (almost) brilliant it is. As it unfolded I was conscious of something that might not have crossed my mind a year ago, and that is the depth of the story. Poltergeist was one of the first movies we rented when we first got a VCR way back in the early to mid eighties, and at the time, it was scary as hell. Watching it as an adult, it's still got a lot of power, and I wondered why this is so when most contemporary horror movies fail to raise my neck hairs.

I realised it's because buckets of viscera and sadistic violence do not a horror movie make.

The fear in Poltergeist does not stem from flying furniture, sparkly ghosts, or some guy peeling his own face off - it comes from watching a family deal with the loss of a child. Likewise, think of what is regarded by many as the greatest horror movie ever: The Exorcist. While spinning heads and pea-green vomitus may have scared the bejesus out of generations, it's the horror of watching a child held prisoner by evil that stays in the mind long after it's over.

There are only a couple of recent horror movies that genuinely horrify, at least in my view. And they both happen to be low budget efforts. Take the original Saw, for instance. This movie has plenty of sadistic torment going on, but that's not what makes it work. It's the tension in the room, and the fear for the family's safety that makes it work. It has real story, in other words.

The other that comes to mind is the Blair Witch Project. A camcorder plus three kids in a forest equals truly terrifying. No gore in sight, just real fear.

There have been quite a few decent horror movies in recent years (28 Days Later, The Descent and Hostel all come to mind) but few have any real resonance. And to achieve real terror, you need real resonance.

This is why a certain Stephen King is the master of the genre - his writing cuts deeper because it speaks to more personal parts of us than our fear of blood.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I said Poltergeist is almost brilliant because the unnecessary finale (you know, the coffins spewing forth and so on) seems like a cynical ploy to get a few more jumps out of us - the real story was over a good twenty minutes before this.

Two: I wrote a short story.

I haven't written one in a while, and this came to me over the last couple of days. Like all my short stories, it was written in a couple of sittings with little or no planning. I've sent it to Elektra's Crapometer for critique, and I'll be curious to see how it fares as it's a spin-off from my recently completed novel. I wonder if it stands on its own, of if the reader needs to know the larger story for it to make sense.

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