Category Archives: Random Rants


Alright, I’m aware that of late this blog has been so quiet there might as well have been tumbleweed blowing across it. I’ve been putting together a paperback version of the Ships of the Fleet Volume 1 and beginning to put together Volume 2. Now right this second I’m not sure if the paperback version will ever actually see the light of day. It really depends on how the images look when the proof copy reaches me in a week or so. On volume 2 productivity is beginning to happen mostly because I’ve got back into the habit of dragging my old laptop into the day-job to do some work at lunch time. I say dragging because it is like I said old and it weights a bloody ton. So if I’ve carried it in and I’ll have to carry it back home, then I’m damn well going to do something useful it! So productivity through back pain, probably not one you are ever going to find in a writing book, but you can have that one on me.


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Right… now what?

Okay, second attempt at writing this entry after accidently kicking the plug out of the computer – twice.

I haven’t been very active on the blog front of late; this is because over the last six weeks I have been busy, very, very busy. This busy-ness has come in the form of attending Loncon, making my panelist debut at Shamrokon, taking on new duties in the day job and of course doing final preparation for Book Three of the Nameless War – The Last Charge, which goes live tomorrow morning – in fact the paperback is already available. That last point I really didn’t think I was going to achieve on time, but I guess practice does make perfect.

Tomorrow morning the book will hit the digital shelves, the six hundred odd people who have pre-ordered will receive their copy and I – at risk of sounding over dramatic – will finish what has over the last ten years, become a fairly major part of my life. So I suppose the question becomes what do I do now, now that I have completed my side of the bargain and finished the series?

Well I can tell you one thing I am NOT going do: that is follow the suggestion of one friend who has put forward the idea that I should write trilogy in four parts. No, NO, NO! I am not Douglas Adams.

I will continue write. Writing is and remains a pass time I enjoy (the money angle doesn’t hurt either), I enjoy the process of getting the collection ideas down and linking them into a coherent whole. I enjoy the creation of my characters, I enjoy building the worlds they inhabit. I enjoy self-publishing with the challenges and opportunities it brings.

I have ideas for the future; readers of this blog will be familiar with my Ships of the Fleet project, its future depends on how the first one is received. There is also a long parked side project which I have begun to look at again and perhaps longer run the Battle Fleet universe has more tales in it.

When it comes to the immediate future one thing is for sure though. I’m taking October off and booking a holiday – Malta looks nice.

See you.

Oh PS, for anyone who hasn’t yet read The Nameless War, on the 1st October to celebrate the arrival of Book Three is it going on sale.


Filed under Book Three of the Nameless War, Random Rants, Self Publishing, Writing

Scottish Independence vote

So today’s the day for the Scottish independence vote. I honestly think the yes campaign has taken far too much of an it-will-be-alright-on-the-night approach to some pretty serious questions and have left their supporters open to some nasty surprises not very far down the road. On the other hand for the independence movement to have even got this far is a pretty damning indictment of the public schoolboys and union officials that make up the Westminster ruling class and have presided over seventy years of managed decline by the UK. No matter what the result business as usual is not going to be an option.


Also if Scotland does become independent will there be panic buying of haggis? Because if so that would be offal.



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Amateur or Professional?

As previously mentioned last weekend I was at Shamrokon – the Eurocon for 2014, which saw my debut as a convention panelist and something else I might be mentioning at a later time. But what I’d like to talk about the question of when does the amateur become professional?

To date in a little under three years the combined sales of my three titles are over fifteen thousand copies. It is always hard to get any serious data on what constitutes average sales. There was a report in the media a year or more back that suggested that the average self-publisher makes less than $500 from their books, which assuming it was true then or now, would put me well on the far side of that particular bell curve.

I’ve always referred to myself as an amateur writer but over the course of the con I got into conversation with a number of other creators, who felt that the word isn’t one that I should really be applying to myself. The argument was put that once being paid, a writer should call themselves a professional.

Before going any further let me to introduce the accountancy concept of materiality. It tends to be a big deal especially in auditing work, but basically it means at what point does a sum of money or figure matter or become material? For example ten thousand euros/dollars/pounds would likely be a material amount for an individual or small business but not so much for the Microsoft corporation.

Why do I mention this? Well my definition of professional writer has been: where writing represents the individual’s primary revenue stream – or in other words it is where they get most of their money. Clinical but it does get us to why call myself an amateur – my day job is the one that pays my bills, the writing income is a supplement.

Still, I do know writers who have number of titles to their name – through traditional publishing – who still have day jobs because that is what is necessary to bring in the necessary funds. But because it has gone through traditional publishing, no one would question their credentials as professional authors. Self publishing doesn’t have quite such a clear line and for my tastes as-soon-as-being-paid fails the test of materiality. Ten sales doesn’t make you a professional, nor does a fifty but a hundred thousand does. Where is the line? I’m not sure but think I am a bit close to it than ever expected.

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Home Again – Loncon

Home from Loncon 3 – the world science fiction convention and boy am I tired. First big con I’ve been to and a good time was had. The one interesting observation I have the energy to make is that there were a couple of panels on military matters and in both cases they were heavily over subscribed. A failure perhaps to appreciate that it is a popular area?

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Whiff of something stale

Something from the big wide web:

MGM, Warner Bros Reboot ‘Stargate’ By MIKE FLEMING JR | First it was Cliffhanger, and now MGM and Warner Bros. announced they are teaming with Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to create a re-imagined trilogy based on the sci-fi hit Stargate, one of the biggest titles in the MGM library. Emmerich, who directed and co-wrote the original 1994 film with Devlin, is on board to direct this one, with Devlin producing. Those two are already hard at work on a new version of Independence Day at Fox.


Write MGM’s Gary Barber called Emmerich and Devlin “world-class creators of the original Stargate,” and said they will “bring their reinvigorated vision of this wildly popular property to audiences of multiple generations.” gateSaid Emmerich and Devlin: “The Stargate universe is one that we missed terribly, and we cannot wait to get going on imagining new adventures and situations for the trilogy. This story is very close to our hearts, and getting the chance to revisit this world is in many ways like a long lost child that has found its way back home.” MGM’s Jonathan Glickman will oversee it with Warner Bros’ Greg Silverman. Warners will distribute with MGM handling some international territories. Back in its day, Stargate set the record for highest October gross and did near $200 million in global ticket sales. It went on to have a very successful run as a syndicated TV series.

The rest can be found here

So yet another reboot that is about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. The thing is I enjoyed Stargate in all its forms (well nearly all, I’ve heard there was a cartoon never seen it though) but not uncritically. The original movie had a certain cheesy charm but when you get right down to it, the TV series really became greater than its sire. But that said, SG1 overstayed its welcome by at least two seasons and while Atlantis was okay it was never more than that. The franchise tried to go in a new direction with Universe, which had a go at being SG’s DS9 but was choked off by the fan boys who were apparently looking for the franchise’s version of Voyager.

My point is Stargate had had a damn good run. But the word is had, as in past tense. I want something new. There have been a few fresh idea in film and television recent years but they’ve been cancelled or written off as a failures before I even heard of half of them. So I have no enthusiasm to see resources being poured into a project like this, because while this thing is probably two or three years from seeing the light of day, from where I’m standing it already smells stale.

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I ain’t dead!

Okay, there hasn’t been any entries on my blog for a few weeks and first off, I’m not dead*. I’ve been busy working on the forth draft of book three – what I call the read through draft. This is the product of a hint I picked up at a writing convention and while I might have mentioned it before, it is such a good hint it is worth repeating.

Basically I have a hard copy of my manuscript and digital copy uploaded to my kindle. I use the text to speech function on the kindle, then follow it as it reads on the hard copy. It is a great technique for finding those small errors like skipped words, wrong words, repeated words and those strange moments where my consciousness obviously just wandered off while I was writing. Obviously it doesn’t catch them all** but it does whittle out a lot of them.

Until next time.





* I think – I work in accounts so it is sometimes hard to tell.

** This blog is in no way affiliated with pokemon


Filed under Random Rants, Self Publishing, Writing