Category Archives: Short Stories

Short story collection is out!

It’s out! After missing so many targets for releasing my short stories, I gave up setting them, but I can now reveal the collection is finally available on Amazon. The paperback version sells for £6.40, and the Kindle version sells for £1.99 in the UK. Prices are an equivalent amount in other currencies.

The book is called ‘Ape to Astronaut’ and consists of nine short stories ranging from the dawn of mankind through to the far future.

The Price of Fur – Winter is coming. Food is becoming scarce. The priority is to kill an animal large enough to feed them till spring. But there are newcomers in the area, with an altogether different objective.

Vicious circle – In a future where misdemeanours are punished by the erasure of all memories to create a ‘new’ reformed individual, a young girl’s reprogramming begins to fail.

Incident on Sibson-4 – The off-world prison colonies are a success story, as far as everyone on Earth is concerned. But a darker side to their existence exists, which needs to be exposed.

Why I’ll never be a prolific writer

I still haven’t finished my collection of short stories.

Too many things seem to get in the way of my writing.

We’ve just returned from a trip of over two weeks, visiting children and old friends in various locations across the UK. A lot of driving, but very enjoyable, and for the most part, exceptional weather for the time of year. Only downside was no writing done.

At home the garden is a never ending distraction, particularly when it is left unattended for 17 days. I normally restrict this activity to after lunch. This year I’m doing some landscaping, so I’ll need to find extra time to spend outside.

This year also, a couple of rooms need redecorating. Painting doesn’t take a long time, but the moving everything before, and putting back afterwards will probably take even longer.

My involvement with the local dog club continues to takes up a significant amount of my time. I’m the chairman, and I run the dog agility section. In addition, I produce all the posters, the newsletter and do a lot of the club’s typing, as well as helping with the club’s accounting. I run the club blog and update it as infrequently as I do my own!

I’ve been doing my family history for many years now (since I was 15), and every so often I have a surge of enthusiasm in this direction. More and more information is becoming available on the internet, so the job will never be finished. A friend recently gave me some notes someone had given him on his family history and asked if I could corroborate the information and maybe find anything else out for him. I rose to the challenge, forgetting I was trying to get my short stories completed. I handed a 20 page document to him this week with far more information than he already had. Anyway, now that’s out of the way I have returned to the short stories. Still just the one to complete, but at least I’m working on it now.

The cover design is almost complete. We just have to wait for the final story to be incorporated so we know the width of the spine.

Then I need to work out how to get the book up to Kindle as a paperback. With my previous two books, I have created the paperback version first on CreateSpace and then uploaded a version to KDP to create the Kindle version. As KDP have taken over the function of CreateSpace, I’ll need to take some time over the set up of the paperback this time, to make sure I get it right.

And then, when that’s all out of the way, I’ll get cracking on the final instalment of the Supremacy trilogy. At least I have a good idea where the storyline is going. All I need is to be able to devote large chunks of time to it.

For the Love of Sci-Fi, and other things

A couple of days ago I went over to Manchester to the ‘For the Love of Sci-Fi’ convention. Three of us left Bangor at 7.15am on Sunday morning, arriving nearly two hours later in the queue to get in. Fortunately it was quite fast moving. There were horror stories of overcrowding the previous day, but we were lucky; Sunday wasn’t sold out.

I’ve never been to one of these before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have to admit, one of the main reasons for going was to see William Shatner’s talk in the afternoon. Gareth spent most of his morning queueing, first to get Dolph Lundgren’s autograph and then his photo, while me and Kevin wandered round the various stalls becoming a bit bored with it all. We went to see Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars) on the live stage and sat a long time before someone came out and said he was having trouble with his voice and wouldn’t be appearing. Disappointing. So we killed some time going round the trade stalls before watching the Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra rattling off some sci-fi tunes.

Who you looking at?

After finding Gareth, complete with photo, we went for some lunch and spent forever in a queue waiting to be served. We were annoyed to discover we could have been watching David Hasselhoff. Not that any of us are big fans; he just seems a very interesting character; a larger than life character. Instead we got cold queueing, then our food got cold as we tried to eat quickly before going back inside. Cold nachos with chilli isn’t as nice as when it’s hot.

Another thing I wanted to see were some Daleks which were supposed to be there, but they weren’t. We searched the hall for them but no Daleks. I wanted a photograph of myself with them. Oh well. We decided to go into the Live stage area and grab seats ready for William Shatner. We couldn’t get as close to the front as we would like to because it was already filling up. A magic show was in progress which was quite entertaining. Then Billy Dee Williams (Lando in Star Wars) came on stage for a Q&A session. He seemed very slow, and perhaps not as with it as he should have been (he is 80 after all). He seemed to suffer from memory problems and needed the occasional reminder and prompt. Shame really.

When I grow up I want to be a dalek!

What we couldn’t understand was why some people got up to leave after his session, with William Shatner due on stage five minutes later. The hall really filled up for him and I don’t think anyone was disappointed. For an 86 year old he was still quite sharp. There was the occasional slip, such as referring to Stephen Hawking as Peter Hawking once, though he didn’t repeat the error when naming him again. He also mixed up a few astronomical terms but the gist of his talk was clear and interesting. Then he did a Q&A session. He was very comfortable talking about himself (which we thought the Hoff would be as well). The time flew by. If he didn’t point out he’d overrun, the session could have gone on for hours. He was a very good talker and seeing him more than justified the cost of the ticket. I really enjoyed it.

Would I go to another one? That depends. In the morning me and Kev agreed it was probably a once in a lifetime event and this was that occasion. After seeing William Shatner I think I’ll reserve judgement and see what guests are lined up.

Plus points: William Shatner

Negative points: no Daleks (which were advertised) and no Ian McDiarmid

As you can tell, I’m a Star trek fan (more so than Star Wars, though judging by the costumes people were wearing it would seem more people were fans of Star Wars). Someone asked William Shatner what he thought of the new Star Trek (Discovery), and he said he hadn’t watched it. I have to agree with some of the criticisms of it from the audience – shallow characters and disjointed episodes. I’m hoping for better things when the series resumes in January now the Discovery (and all its advanced technology) has been shuffled off to wherever its gone (parallel universe perhaps). I found it hard to reconcile the fact that it was supposed to be set ten years before Captain Kirk went boldly where no-one (including, presumably, the Discovery) had gone before. He would have loved the technology of the Discovery on board the Enterprise. Can’t wait for it to resume.

With regard to my writing, I’m working on the comments I’ve received back from it being read. Several chapters have been rewritten, but, of course, this all has a knock on effect on the rest of the story. I’m less than a hundred pages from the end now. Releasing it this year won’t happen now. Hopefully it wont be too late into the new year. I’m still waiting for the cover design to come back, so I couldn’t have gone live with it yet anyway.

One of four draft copies printed for readers to comment on (temporary cover)

The short stories haven’t progressed. I’ll finish the two remaining stories once I’ve finished Times of the Changes.

Finding time to write is a problem. You would think, having retired, I’d have lots of time. It’s true what they say – I don’t know how I ever found the time to work. I think the problem is you fill your life with lots of other stuff – writing is just one of those things. Another is the local dog training club. I somehow seem to have not only become a member of the club, but get elected to the committee, and then become the Chairman. I’ve also taken on most of the computer based functions (apart from the Facebook side of it, which my wife handles), and I organise the Agility sessions as well – Nantlle Vale Dog Training Club, if anyone is interested (I’m as bad at putting entries on their blog as I am on my own! OK, perhaps not quite as bad.)

Instead of writing this, I could have been editing. Doh!

Writing Again

After everything that has happened this year, I’m pretty confident about saying I’ll miss the two targets I set for myself during 2016. Both the second volume of the Supremacy Trilogy and the short story collection are unlikely to be out this year. The good news, however, is that I’m getting back into the swing of writing.

I’m editing the first part of Times of the Changes, the follow-up to Betrayal, although I’ve still got to write a few connecting chapters near the end, to tie it all together.

At the same time, I’m working on the short story collection. Five stories included so far. I want at least 8 stories, so 3 more to go. I was editing an old time travel story, but after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to put that one hold for a while, and am now writing a new one for inclusion.

Outside writing, my mum’s injury appears to be responding to treatment. The nurse who changes the dressing twice a week seems happy with the progress. I’m also back at the agility, wearing an ankle support, and running round the field trying to control the dog over/through all the obstacles. I’m still taking care, however. Don’t want to reverse my recovery. We’ve also had two long weekends away during September which meant no writing: one at my son’s place in Derbyshire close to the Peak District, the other at my uncle’s in the Yorkshire Dales. My relatives live in some nice places! Visiting them is the kind of distraction I don’t mind having.

Writing Progress and Wordcounts

It took a long time to edit the third short story, and I don’t think it’s complete yet. After rewriting substantial parts of it, I think I’ll leave it to rest for a while and come back to it later. So I’ve moved onto the fourth short story. This one, I wrote three years ago, and it describes the fortunes of a ‘changeling’ in a grim off-world prison when his ‘talents’ are called into service for the use of others.

My first novel, Betrayal, started out life as a short story, or rather a novella, and grew from there as I explored the various possibilities. I’m well into the second book of what is now going to be a trilogy. I see, in this fourth short story, the potential for it to also be grown into a novel, allowing me to develop the characters more, and expand the plot. But I shall resist. Maybe one day I’ll come back to it, if I run out of other ideas.

I think I said my revised date for the completion of the short story collection was Easter. I didn’t realise Easter was early this year. I could have done with it being a late one! I think I will miss that ‘deadline’ as well. I won’t schedule a revised date. I’ll just work at it, as and when. My plan was to reserve my evening writing for the short stories, but the second novel in the trilogy, Times of the Changes, keeps encroaching into it.

Talking of the second volume. I passed 100,000 words recently. This is too long in my opinion. I’m a slow reader, and I’m put off by over-long books. They’re too easy for me to give up on. I tend to shy away from books that approach, or exceed, 400 pages. Betrayal was around 90,000 words which, with the formatting I used, came out at 350 pages. Quite long enough. I don’t want to put off any potential new readers with something too daunting, especially from an unknown author. Another consideration is the cost of production of a paper copy. The higher the page count, the higher the production costs, pushing up the price of the paperback.

As a first stab at reducing the word count, I’ve decided I’m going to go back and rewrite the first six chapters (about 20,000) words to shorten what is basically an introduction to the main story to make it less meandering and more relevant, but I’ll need to cull a lot more when I finish writing.

I had set a target date of the middle of the year to have the book ready but I’ll probably miss that deadline as well. Hopefully it will still be this year.