Music to run to, Urban Fantasy protagonists, other assorted stuff. #amwriting

I'm back in training for the Simmer Dim half-marathon.  Yes, it's not until the end of June but when you start the year as heavy as I did, training's got to start early.  In the first three weeks of the year, thanks to the rowing machine and a crash diet, I've managed to shift enough weight to get back out running and build up my dodgy left knee in the hope that it will last until I've got those 13-odd miles under my belt.  However, the actual running is, to me, pushed into second-place by the music I'll be listening to while following that white line up the hill.

Back in Kent, I had an hour's drive to and from work.  In this time I could listen to entire albums, huge swathes of audio books and radio comedy.  When we moved to Shetland I swapped that commute for a 7 minute jaunt to the other side of the island.  Seven minutes.  That's hardly long enough to bother loading a CD.  This kind of balances out by the drives we make when we go south to visit relatives – six hours in the car needs a lot of music but it has to be stuff we can all agree on listening to.  So now the longest time I get to listen to my music is when I'm running and this makes the choice very difficult.
Do I go for something with a repetitive, steady beat that matches my footfalls but wouldn't necessarily be what I'd want to listen to for pleasure? supplies playlists of this very type, complete with coaching voice-over at strategic moments.  I was using their 2-hour long-run programme to train last year and it worked very, very well for me.  But I wouldn't stick the CD on in the kitchen for pleasure.  It's very much music that is designed to do a job.
Do I go for a fantastic album and fit my feet to the beat where possible?  This is what I've been doing with Avantasia's "The Metal Opera" and I apologise to residents of Gulberwick who may have heard me singing random lyrics as I jogged past.  When you find a section that works, it's fantastic – I found one of those about 8 minutes into "The Seven Angels" (it's a long song and I'll be requesting it on ButeFM's Request Friday until they play at least part of it.  Follow them on Twitter – – and let's make it a mission).
Usually I stick my iPod onto the "Jogging" playlist, which contains a huge amount of very random stuff.  Marillion's Incommunicado works well, I can just about make it up the hill to that one, Steve Oumiette's "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" from Guitar Hero 3 is a real blast to run to, as is Eddie Murphy singing "I'm a believer" from Shrek.  The assorted Doctor Who theme tunes work as well.
All of this is good right up to the batteries fail and you're left with a mile to run with only your thoughts for company as happened today.
Anyway.  This got me thinking about the book I'm trying to write, specifically about the main character.
Urban Fantasy.  The Dresden Files, Greywalker, werewolves, vampires, ghosts.
Which is easier for people to get behind:  A main character with powers – the eponymous Harry Dresden, Lestat (if anyone remembers him these days) taking on the supernatural on a level playing field – or a main character who is, to all intents and purposes, a normal human being – Dean Winchester, for example.  Should a normal character develop some powers, reveal some hidden aspect from his or her past, "just know" some vital supernatural stuff?  Y'see, I'm coming at this from the normal point of view and I'm having to fight my fingers on the keys to stop him from suddenly turning out to be a 6th level wizard.  Obviously not a 20th level wizard, but definitely not a 1st level wizard, they're just cannon fodder.  "Oh, let's see.  I'll use a magic missile on the orc.  That's 1d4 damage." *rolls a 1*.  "Bugger.  I'll get on with rolling up a new character now, shall I?"
The problem with the powered character is that this immediately ramps up the powers of the antagonists, whilst the problem with the un-powered character is that he's got to have other ways of dealing.
This is the battle I'm facing at the moment.  I think I'm winning, time will tell.
I'll leave you with a quote from somewhere in my manuscript:
"If all of this is real, everything you've seen today, then what else is real?"

Posted via email from Claytons in the Far, Far North


Is it Friday again already?

Well, there went another week.  They seem to go past awfully quickly at the moment.  I set out with good intentions – I was expecting the Lerwick Writers' Group ( to meet on Tuesday evening, I'd get a chance to read out some more of my NaNoWriMo project (National Novel Writing Month – – 50,000 words or more in November).  I haven't looked at this since the end of November when I checked my word count.  Unfortunately, I'd miscalculated – apparently we don't meet in January as everyone is too busy.  First meeting will be the first Tuesday in February.

Right (thought I).  Tuesday night I'll break out the index cards and start finding the missing bits in the storyline, work out what I need to write.  I figure it'll be about 100,000 words once I've filled in the gaps, I can then edit it back to a more reasonably 75-80,000.  What happened on Tuesday?  Can't remember.  Sure as hell didn't write anything.  No problems, move the job to Wednesday night.  Thursday?  Friday?  No, not Friday.  Jo's back from Aberdeen and it's games night with the kids.  Playing a Dr Who RPG with them at the moment and we should finish the scenario tonight if things go to plan.  And the weekend's out, so that pushes stuff through into next week already.

My question is this:  Where the bloody hell does the time go?  Okay, I've got 5 kids so looking after the house eats up a big chunk of it.  Then there's work, of course.  And interesting TV, though that's pretty thin on the ground at the moment.  If you don't watch soaps or sport your pickings are slim on Freeview.  And there's nothing that's replaced Firefly, Buffy, Warehouse 13…  Am I the only person missing smart, funny science fiction/fantasy/horror?  C'mon!  Second series of Krod Mandoon, stat!  One of the normal channels, grab Fringe!  I'd settle for Days of Our Lives right about now but I'm not desperate enough to watch Primeval.

Anyway, the 2 youngest appear to have decided to sleep in shifts today.  That's my "me" time over for the moment.  One blog update.  Well, that's where 5 minutes of this week went.

Oh, yes.  I remembered what I did Tuesday – watched Zen on iPlayer (thank you, PS3).  If you've not managed to catch this one yet, do so.  It's smart, funny, interesting TV.  Definitely worth watching.

See you in seven.

Posted via email from Claytons in the Far, Far North


New year, new style of working. And some pictures from my phone.

That was very satisfying.  Just tidied up my Facebook account and finally decided to block “City of Wonder”.  This is all part of my cunning plan to use the computer in a smarter way over the coming year.

I have also started using “Remember the Milk” as a task manager, plugging everything that needs doing into it.  This syncs with my phone and makes me a happy little geek.

Enough of the dull.  Now, the fun stuff.  When we were out in Lanzarote I purchased a camera app for my phone called Vignette.  This lovely app applies all manner of effects to the photos you take (as well as keeping the originals).  You can set up shortcuts to your favourite effects and launch the camera ready to use them.  I’ve left mine set on completely random.  This has the advantage of throwing up some amazing photographs but the disadvantage of never knowing what effects were applied to make the picture I’ve just taken.  I can ID panorama, polaroid, and a few other of the frames but after that I’m out!

If my calculations are correct, then this link:  Photo album should allow you to see these pics.  Some are better than others…  If my calculations aren’t, then it’s not going to work.  Please comment below one way or another.

Finally, I’m trying a new look.  Evil Mirror-Universe John.  Not sure yet, but time will tell.  Oh, and the diet/exercise regime is starting both to hurt and to give some real benefits – great weight loss in week 1, let’s see how week 2 goes!

Later, folks.


Posted via email from Claytons in the Far, Far North