and you'll miss it.
Miss the rainbow tapestry
that is my life at present.
I've just begun another
very interesting contract (again, for an agency) with a client that makes
medical products (pacemakers, stents, pain relief devices, even deep brain
stimulus machines for Parkinson's sufferers).
It's going to be an interesting
I made some initially
good progress with writing a book about creative graphics using Microsoft
Word, but as my time has been taken up with working for a living I've been
forced to let it lie. Just for a while. I will get back to it.
I need to. It's one of
I also had to stop maintaining
two separate Story-Lines sites (one .com and one .net). It was hard enough
keeping one going, let alone two.
So now the .net version
redirects to the .com version (this one) and I'll develop different content
for the .net version in due course.
Haps ...er... VIII
2004 and January 2005 were a bit of a muddle. I finished a contract, didn't
think I was going to get another, had one suddenly offered to me, and now
that has unexpectedly finished thanks to some fiscal short-sightedness
on the part of a client's executives.
Oh, well. If they don't
wake up they'll be fired. But too late to do me any good.
So I'm back looking for
another gig (and there is one that appears very, very interesting).
I'm also trying to get
at least one current writing project finished. It's a book aimed at doodlers
and uses Microsoft Word's Draw facility to generate creative graphics.
It will be one of several in that vein (different applications -- PowerPoint,
Excel -- different languages) and I have other publications planned too.
These may be self-published
projects (ePublished, probably) or they may be handed off to a traditional
publisher (I have started a conversation with one major player and we'll
see where that leads).
I am also still trying
to get ideas down on paper (well, hard disk) for a number of creative concepts,
and details should be given elsewhere in this News section.
Keep watching this space.
(with a capital Hell) has a habit of being thoroughly confusing at times.
I had resigned myself
to the fact that I was not going to get a follow-on contract after the
holiday season. I'd had no contact from my agency, and it was apparent
that I was going to have to pull out all the stops and look for another
Almost a month after
the end of my contract, and after I had revised my resume for the second
time to try and make myself "attractive" to another agency's client, so
that they might want to interview me, I suddenly got a call out of the
blue letting me know that the paperwork had finally gone through and the
contract (90 days worth - what I began with over two years before) was
mine for the taking.
So. Back to having a
bird in the hand, two in the bush (almost - the new contract I was trying
to get would have lost us $1000 a month and I had no idea how I was going
to make up that shortfall). What to do?
Well, I knew I could
do the continued contract standing on my head, and it was at the same rate
as before (albeit with a different job title), so we'd not have to struggle
to make ends meet. And I knew most of the players involved, so I wouldn't
be starting afresh.
In the end, and because
I had to make the decision quickly, I accepted the invitation to return
to the previous agency's client and reluctantly let go pursuit of the new
opportunity (which was not a sure thing - I had several hurdles to get
over before even walking in through the door, so I could still have failed
to earn the position).
I hope I don't live to
regret it. So far it's taken me three days just to get my old ID badge
back, I have no computer, no phone, no network login, no email, and no
permanent desk at which to work.
But that's the way things
started in late 2002, so I'm on familiar ground there :).
last time I updated this column I said I was amazed at how little time
for creative writing I had.
Then I lost even that
little time, and "amazed" ceased to have much meaning.
But now I have a breather.
For reasons that are too arcane to go into, I find myself sitting on the
bench while I wait for someone to sign a small piece of paper that will
free funds to employ me.
Once that is done (not
sure when) my enforced break will be over.
You might think that
this is an excellent opportunity to catch up with my creative writing projects,
but in practice I am just too exhausted. I will just have to take the time
to recharge my batteries.
But I haven't been slouching
during the last several months. I have further concepts registered on WriteSafe,
and more in the pipeline.
Look elsewhere here for
I hope everyone had a
great festive season and holiday and I wish everyone (including me :))
the very best for the New Year.
never ceases to amaze me how little creative writing time I seem to have
At the beginning of this
year I found myself esconced in the Palm Garden Hotel, using it as a base
from which to work 12-14 hours a day, 6-7 days a week for almost three
The overtime was nice
but the lack of a life was not, and in the meantime Casey's health was
deteriorating as her knees disintegrated and I wasn't able to be there
for her much of the time.
Six months later and
I'm not at the hotel and the hours are back to "normal" but my free time
still doesn't allow me to write creatively.
So I'm left to establish
creative concepts with a view to finding some time "in the future" to turn
them into absorbing stories - I hope - and those concepts appear on WriteSafe
every quarter (primarily for safe keeping).
The current concept is
Nex, Necis (provisional title - LATIN for violent death, usually murder),
and is based on the recent discovery of more Roman ruins near where I used
to live in Wantage, Oxfordshire.
Still in the early stages
of development, it's the story of a Roman centurion stationed in Britain
somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd century AD, charged with the task of investigating
the murder of one of his men.
On the surface, the culprit
is a local leader of native tribal Britons, but all is not as it appears.
We follow the investigation
through the eyes of an archaeologist almost 2000 years later as s/he sifts
through the tantalising evidence left behind.
To be continued...
was tied up with work the last time I wrote something here, and in the
meantime my contract was changed and extended to the end of March 2004,
but the workload was so much greater that I worked evenings and weekends
up to Christmas Eve.
I now function more as
a QA engineer than as a scientific technical writer, but what the hay --
it's all work, and the daily mental gymnastics keep my brain in working
order. Sort of.
The Full Monty sequel
still hasn't made it to WriteSafe, but another project, AustrAliens, has.
Still only bare bones, I think it has good potential with the right writer(s).
Fellow writer Eddie Crismani (see next column) contributed some creative
ideas and so deserves credit.
Check out the StoryLines
page for the link.
been so tied up with my ongoing contract as a scientific technical writer
that I have had no time at all to keep my ramblings current. In a way,
that's good news -- it means I'm still working!
I have a good handful
of ideas on which I have been working when time permits. Among those are
a sequel to Coneheads (currently on WriteSafe) and a possible sequel to
The Full Monty (Double Exposure), which has yet to be developed enough
to be placed on WriteSafe.
The most important new
entry though has to be the work of a friend of mine, Eddie Crismani. You'll
find his pages here and I hope to extend them as time permits. A panel
in the news section provides more information.
Competition is now into its 9th session and if I can get the work done
in time, I'll be sending in a handful of stories to them.
Work, work, work. Then unemployment, unemployment, unemployment. Then work,
work, work again.
So much so that I have
not had time to keep this site up to date (not that anyone's reading it,
apart from me :))
The contract with the
semantic analysis software company fizzled out. They ran out of work for
me, and then I waited and waited...
Finally my agency suggested
that I should look elsewhere for another contract.
So I did, and ended up
working on one of the most satisfying gigs I've had in years.
contract called for 90 days at no more than 8 hours a day (with national
holidays off - unpaid, of course).
It has been
extended for another 42 days and I'm hoping for more (but nothing is certain).
The gig is
40 miles away from home but luckily I'm able to rideshare with a friend
- someone I used to rideshare with on a previous contract.
for a biopharmaceutical company, writing scientific papers for researchers.
The work is fascinating, not least because it's been 30 years since I last
looked at Chemistry and a lot has happened in that time.
It's also great
because I get to do tons of online research into things like fractal geometry
and draw pretty pictures of Sierpinski's Gasket and similar esoteric objects.
fun, the people are extremely nice to work with, and my boss is the best
I've known in a long time (and 30 years before that). [To give them all
names: Alastair M, Angela C, Don G, Steve W and now Ed M.]
is getting up at 4:30 am every day and not getting home until after 7pm,
which means about 90 minutes to eat, chat to Casey, check email, and crawl
into bed ready for the next day. The weekends are reserved for sleeping,
doing chores and sleeping...
So no time
or energy for creative writing just now - but lots of ideas, which are
being committed to my organizer ready for the time I manage to sit down
for a few days and write for myself!
So, check back
every couple of weeks or so and see if anything's changed (the home page
update date will always reveal if anything has).
Oh, and did
I mention that I just had my 50th birthday? I wonder how I managed to forget
what's the haps?
Or to put it more sensibly,
what's been happening?
It's been a while since
I had time to keep StoryLines up to date (not since July, in fact). I've
been working on a fairly intensive contract that involves semantic analysis
software and XML-based documentation, to which I have devoted all my time
Now I'm benched for an
uncertain period (i.e., I'm not working and not being paid but the contract
is still in existence) so I'm taking the chance to get some more writing
done as I keep my eyes open for the next opportunity.
Call Me Silvie (aka Îsle
de Trésor) has been registered with WriteSafe but that's about all
the writing I've done in the last few months. I have a good half dozen
stories that are partially complete and I hope to be working on those over
the next few days, and a few more concepts to play with and see what I
now has a mirror in Europe!
In London, to be exact,
- and a new domain name - www.story-lines.net
- registered by and hosted by ASSOCIATED
ANL have a very fast
point of presence in Europe - so fast, in fact, that you may find that
this site loads faster than the original Tripod site does...
Both sites will continue
to present the content of StoryLines, but one will be without certain very,
very annoying and intrusive banners.
is quickly becoming so complex I decided it needed a site
The basic structure is
borrowed from ideas I got after running a demo version of SiteXpert
I hope it makes navigating
a little easier - in any event it's a different approach.
I will devise a way to
automate the map shortly; for now it's a (manual) labor of love (so if
you find a broken link please be gentle :)).
and the Seven Dwarves
previous "current" project -- Nex,
Necis -- was put on hold while I quickly put together a concept called
and the Seven Dwarves" and placed it on WriteSafe in time for the competition
held at the end of the last quarter of 2004.
It's one of those silly
ideas that just might turn out to be workable. I'll have to wait and see.
met Eddie when we both worked for a small telecomms company in Glendale,
California, back in 1996 and we've kept in touch ever since.
Eddie hails from Coober
Pedy in Oz, originally. Coober is one of the most inhospitable places on
Earth, and has been used as a backdrop for films such as The Road Warrior
(it turned into Mel Gibson's Mad Max series), Pitch Black, and Red Planet.
If you search through Google, you'll find plenty of sites covering the
People still live there,
despite the terrible temperatures (many buildings extend under ground)
and when Eddie lived there, it was an opal mining center and his father
was an opal miner -- a very dangerous occupation, in more ways than one.
Eddie took his experiences
growing up in Coober and turned them into an extremely good script.
Good enough to impress
seasoned actor Harv Presnell (Fargo, Saving Private Ryan, The Legend of
Bagger Vance), and Rena Owen (Once Were Warriors, AI, Star Wars).
Good enough to impress
writer, director and producer Leszek Burzynski (Blood Harvest, Trapped
Alive, Cry Wolf, Wooly Boys (Peter Fonda, Kris Kristofferson, Keith Carradine)).
More details on The
Fellow Writers Page.
second quarterly competition saw two of my pieces make it to the semi-finals,
and the Malcolm in the Middle script - an earlier incarnation of which
made it to the semi-finals in the previous quarter - made it to the finals.
I have some more edits
to make to it when I can find the time to complete them, and then maybe
it will go a little further.
So not quite all the
way there, but progress, definitely progress.
The current candidate
is the premise for Call Me Silvie (see The Haps), and we'll see how that
does over the next few weeks.
Well, it didn't go anywhere
- them's the breaks. But it's still a workable idea, I think, so I won't
be dropping it any time soon!
TooWrite Short Story Competition
TooWrite Short Story Competition closed on May 10, with five of my
non-fiction short stories entered.
The organizers report
that they have over 900 entries to sift through, so it will be weeks before
they can announce a winner. I'll just have to be patient...
No luck at TooWrite
- my stories didn't make the grade. This time. The next competition
has started and I'm working on another five shorties to go into it!
Therapy For Beginners
idea for Silly Therapy came to me after having spent over an hour on the
phone to the Internal Revenue Service, trying to persuade them that executing
a federal tax lien on my assets would only have a purpose if I had any
assets to begin with (it's a long story). When you have financial
hardship, being hit with a lien doesn't do anything to lessen the hardship,
as we all know.
Well, those of us not
working for the IRS do, anyway.
Therapy For Beginners isn't a competition piece (yet) but it might
turn into an electronic book if I wave a magic truss over it.
The Do It Yourself You
Lazy Bastard self help guide to coping with life's obstacles is designed
to be read tongue in cheek.
This makes the reader
sound demented if they're daft enough to read aloud, and is all part of
The Silly therapy regime
has been known to help with clinical depression, male pattern baldness,
corporate financial instability and cheese making.
What other lies can I
Oh, yes, it makes you
attractive to women or men (especially those with a dog and a white cane)
depending on which side of the street you read it, on alternate Thursdays.
Enjoy and don't sue me.
Bogbrush Saves A Bit Of The Universe
concept arose out of the rediscovery of some characters I created back
in 1973 during a holiday in Barmouth, Wales. I even have photos of
most of them. You can read more of the story behind Dodger and his
somewhat suspect looking relatives here.
Grab Bag of Concepts
have quite a bundle of concepts at various stages of development. Since
I haven't kept the site up to date (lack of time) I have fallen behind
with reporting, which means that some of the concepts are now up on WriteSafe
of Mars; Coneheads
II: Blunt and To The Point), others are in revision (Jolly Old Aliens,
What?; Frankenstein and The Seven Dwarves), and a handful of others are
at the "what shall we do now we've got a title?" stage (A Dish Best Served
Cold; Britonia Waives The Rules; Cuthbert Does It Again; Eight Belts To
Save The World; Neee and Urtals; Sands of England; So Bite Me!; Stranger
Than Truth; This Is Not A Game; Time Tainting; Inane Secrets of The Yo-Yo
I would dearly like to
have time to develop all of these fully but unless I can find a sponsor
willing to back me for at least two years (which means something like $250K
of investment) I'm going to have to be patient...
Shire Reeve of
occurred to me that there are a number of stories around that are based
on misconceptions (sometimes even on deliberate distortions of the truth).
I've never seen the legendary
story of Robin Hood told from the perspective of the supposed villain of
the piece: the Shire
Reeve (or Sheriff) of Nottingham.
So far this is just a
pitch - I don't have enough research done to even begin a treatment - with
a rough working title.
One thing I found: Nottingham
was originally closer to being called Snottingham (spelled a little differently:
Snotengaham). Luckily for us, the Normans apparently dropped the
Otherwise the people
of Snot might have given us a different version of Robin Hood...
I can see the story going
forward either as a comedy or a drama - both are feasible (especially with
a name like Snot).
Well, the premise did
better than I thought it would during the WriteSafe Competition - it got
to the semi-finals!
It also attracted some
interest from a small Film and TV production company in Oz. We'll see if
anything comes of that.