Sunday, 1 April 2018


What was the upshot of upgrading the writing machinery? The cybernetic legs were shaky for a few weeks. And then...
   I remembered my laser printer had wireless. By arcane means, with the sacrifice of many a henged stone, I sought to tame the beast.
   Easier said than spread. Why couldn't I add this Wi-Fi ability automatically? Just click a button.
   The button refused to cooperate.
   And so I uninstalled my printer attached by umbilical and installed my printer attached by umbilical. To add Wi-Fi, the system forced me to connect the USB cable for a little bit.
   Much ritual chanting followed. Then I endured a period of non-ritual chanting, non-chanting, and non-ritual.
   Luckily, I didn't sever anything in the process. No bleeding. I was about to give birth to a wireless printer. Test. Well, that worked.
   I hauled the printer from its nest in the MOST AWKWARD LOCATION A PRINTER EVER RESIDED IN, and I staggered into another room.
   Slight exaggeration. I sat the printer on a chair and wheeled the chair into another room. Would the second part of the test prove good and true?
   Yes. I printed a document from my printer in  another room. Job done. So the upshot of upgrading the writing machinery was...
   That I'd finally gained access to the hidden sorcery inside the printer. And I need never balance like an acrobat on all the shaky things, never ever ever again, just to print a page.
   After the printer came out of there, a chunk of shelving went in. Now I've taken control of a slice of wall I couldn't store anything against before.
   This made my office safer. I also rearranged bookshelves. As soon as you gain a sliver of space, you don't automatically cram something in there. Instead, you rearrange ALL THE BULKY things that wouldn't quite fit right before.
   That was the last major revamp of the office. I tell myself this at least once a year. And I do that every six months, according to the files.
   How many offices have I created, uncreated, recreated, destroyed, atomised, resurrected, and shifted about? Count the stars in the sky. Add a random number based on grains of rice on your plate if you are eating rice. Then add three.
   I think that about covers it.

Thursday, 1 March 2018


Quill? Parchment? A typewriting flunky?
   No, I'm not talking about that sort of writing equipment. With a heavy heart at the prospect of a lighter wallet, I trudge to this blog post knowing it is time to upgrade the machine.
   Cloud computing doesn't mean what you think it means.
   Writers upgrade computers by purchasing new computers when old computers crawl to the computer graveyard to die in a cloud of fizzy sparks.
   Cloud computing doesn't mean what you think it means. Bzzzt.
   But hold! What is this?! My old computer isn't dead? No. I'm writing this blog post on the old machine, in treacle.
   How often should a writer upgrade to a new machine? When the moon is blue and close to the horizon, filling the void.


Once in a Blue Moon? Twice?
   Quentin Crisp refused to do the dishes until he'd eaten fish off them. Once you reach the fish stage, you must tackle the problem of explaining your piscine plates to wary visitors, otherwise.
   In computing terms, I'd reached the fish stage.
   Upgrade to a new machine if your old machine dies. That's about it. As an author, I only really need basic typing files on a computer. And so...
   There's never been a crushing need to replace machines, season by season. As long as I could type, and save what I typed, I was okay.
   I'm not talking about laptops. There are people who replace those fragile constructions annually. Really? In the time it takes me to replace one personal computer, you've roasted through eight impersonal laptops? More?
   (Insert silent scream here.)


This machine served me pretty well for almost five years. And it'll keep serving as an extra archive. But plans in motion altered my electronic requirements.
   If I am to do more than type in files, and I aim to, then I require a machine that isn't sloth-powered, treacle-fired, and built using the earliest chips cast in solid Lethargium.
   So. Buy a new machine when your old machine dies a death or is on the way out. And that means the clockwork is failing, the energy lies fading, and the steampunkery of old not-so-fiercely hisses its digital age - which is measured in Geologic Time and rhymes with Mesozoic.
   If you need a faster machine, hop on a bicycle.
   That was my attitude. But requirements change. I'm upgrading, not replacing. There's just enough room for both machines to sit on the floor, all cabled up and ready to compute.
   The switch from machine to shinier machine brings the silver lining nearer...see attached gloomy cloud for details. I know I'll have to fuck around with settings, applications, lubricant, and. Wait. Maybe not that middle category.
   It's possible to run a computer for close to a decade. Been there. Done that. And they say it's barely possible to do that for a laptop as well as a PC. Wouldn't know.
   Hardware wears well, though it also wears out.


Patience wears out, too.
   I type this part of the blog from under the sheltering cogwheelery of the new machine, with its new regime. First, I had to donate a kidney, a small fictional child, and a sample of someone's blood just to purchase the device.
   Insecurity checks, apparently.
   Then I made sure the machine worked. This involved flicking at least four on-off switches into the right combination called ON. Really on. Actually definitely on, this time.
   And then I had my blank machine sitting and waiting to fill up, as if by technology. I waved a not-so-magic wand, and, after five days of wandering in the digital wilderness, I had the new machine set up along the same lines as the old machine...
    Archives copied over. Handy software blended in. One dodgy unstable driver killed my machine dead and I had to resurrect the fucker. It isn't a week old, FFS!
   But that return to life took care of another annoying problem. So I can't complain overmuch. I know enough about computers to be dangerous, and gave the dying computer a transfusion of information. That's usually all it takes.


What do I know about computers? Enough to know that I know to leave well-alone if I have the option. Yes, oh trembling one, I've slashed my way through the registry and returned to tell of it.
   Never slash your way through the registry - with a machete or a cucumber. May you never have to visit the registry. That's all you need to know. Unless you need to know more.
   Is that it? Are we done? This machine is faster. It isn't on its last legs. Yes. That's it. But that's what I need, for the next phase. Things are a lot tidier.
   Going years between upgrades leaves you feeling that change in computing is change for the sake of change...and it is loose change and small change, at that.
   Luckily, the previous machine took the upgrade to Windows 10 without breaking stride. So the last machine wasn't powered by the abacus. I may have given that impression.
   What do I like about the new machine? Not the disc eject button. It is woeful. But at least the machine takes a disc - it had to take several, lying around waiting for the transfusion, to turn into the beast that most closely resembles the old machine.
   In upgrading, you want to see improvement. But you don't want the office routine thrown out by massive changes. What do you mean I can sign in using a fingerprint? And if I die, and people have to access the computer after I am gone? What then?
   Those fingerprint links are heading out of favour anyway. It's going to be brainwaves or slices of kidney in the future. And that's always ten minutes away.
   The future that has flying skateboards in it. And rocket-packs. Space cars, with aerodynamic fins straight out of 1955...
   I'll be amazed if this machine lasts me five years. It barely made it through the first week. In vehicular terms, I'm the loose nut behind the wheel.
   Computers would run so much more efficiently without pesky humans stepping in and screwing the software up. I'll stop here, before I extend that argument to all areas of human endeavour.


And then I decided to watch a film.
   In the Oldentime, afore the Apocalypse, when humansies were mighty with the Teknahladjee, computers came bundled with software allowing you to work the fucking hardware.
   Not any longer.
   This machine has a DVD player. Does it play you a movie, right out of the cardboard box? Of course it fucking doesn't. (Playing movies is incidental, next to its main task of reading and burning discs.)
   I downloaded free software and didn't quite care for the experience. Now this I have to blame on the TV, which isn't farm-fresh. The TV is a little older than my ancient five-year-old computer...
   And that makes the TV as old as time itself, even if it does come with the fabled USB port and HDMI and a device for downloading electricity from the wall.
   My solution wasn't to stream movies. I have a large wooden structure off to the back of the room, filled with round streaming devices called discs. And I don't see the point in binning them if I can still find a device on which to play them.
   I went halfway into the room and plucked a DVD player off a shelf. Hell, I'd just plug that back in, right?
   Hadn't used the DVD player in an age. My old computer opened its mouth and swallowed discs whole, turning them into televisual experiences. The official DVD player just got in the way, after a time.
   Did I face a bigger problem? Yes. If the DVD player stood in my way with one computer, what about the lack of space caused by two computers?
   I could squeeze the player back in there, IF...I moved the old computer to the left. But that meant I'd be forced to move the internet box four feet to the right.
   And all the power cables had to move, to accommodate this epic shift.
   Reaching for BIBLICAL language, I said to myself...
   Fuck it.
   And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth.


I spent the fag-end of one night and all the next morning unplugging things. That took me into the dangerous realm of moving the printer out so I could shift a few doors. (Don't ask.)
   Then I'd rip the internet cable out of its comfy home. I laboured harder than Herakles to work that cable around behind the bookshelves without having to move them and without toppling them.
   For this achievement, I earned the Fictional Award for Services to Shelving, First Class.
   And there I stood, precariously, ready to undo that which had been done. Undo it I did. What a puzzler. I'd crammed a world of stuff around there, over by the printer...
   I hadn't a hope in hell of taking any of it out. These doors might just barely slide out past the unit the printer sits on. Where to, though? They can't slide up and out, as the UP exit is blocked by an artificial roof created by the edge of an old computer desk...
   Sometimes, you are forced to improvise shelving.
   And so it went, from stumble to stumble. But. Ripping the cable out forcefully...turned out to be the easiest option. I'd prepared for a mighty mighty mighty struggle.
   Pop. Rattle. Whish. Slither. Done in seconds. The real mighty struggle involved getting the printer back in there...a lot harder than heaving it out.
   Any fool can unplug devices. Plugging them back in AND GETTING THEM TO WORK is a different tale. My head went down against the back of a bookcase, and a nail sheared off a chunk of my hair.
   What the fuck?! One of those accidents you read about in obituaries.
   I began that morning with a look in the mirror as I brushed my teeth. And there, plain as day, sat blood on my face. Bloody freckles. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?
   Looking around, I found the culprit. A tiny cut on the back of my hand, from the night before. Better watch out.
   I couldn't watch out, when it came time to plug everything back in. Forward and down in the depths, sandwiched between two computers, I plugged, unplugged, and replugged by instinct.
   Those scenes in STAR TREK, with Montgomery Scott shoved along a tube, fixing spaceship innards...been there, done that.
   I had to plug. Then I was forced to unplug and disentangle. The day started in blood and continued...in that vein.
   My old computer knew I'd sent it to live down on the farm in retirement. A hidden flange reached out and blew my thumb to bits as I unplugged a cable I couldn't see the end of.
   Blood everywheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere.
   A dash to the sink followed. Apply pressure. Hose with cold water. Bind the wound with medical fixings.
   At a distance of a few days, I wondered how I'd cut myself so strangely. You'd think an alien exploded out from inside my thumb. Thumb blood is RED. No, really. It's as red as red can be.
   Yes, I bought a new computer. And yes, I gradually realised I'd have to rearrange the office slightly. Yes, slight office rearrangement means moving ALL the cables.
   Does everything work, now?
   After resetting my computer twice, to blitz two different glitches, yes. My computer works. So. Is that it? I can type in files I'm able to save?
   Yes. And I only had to lose half a pint of blood to achieve so lofty a status. A mild price to pay. 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


Don't dodge those rookie writing mistakes. Make those fucking mistakes and learn from them. Earn your learning the hard way. Thus endeth the harsh lesson.

Thursday, 8 February 2018


No, this post isn't about future plans.
   This post is about plans that brewed for years, mwuah-ha-ha, insert Top Secret Volcano Base here...
   I typed that aloud, didn't I? Oops.
   Yes, I have loads of unfinished business to stamp DONE. Along the way, I set up other things. Damn it, can I just type things once without accidentally typing thongs...
   Setting up other thongs is a different story.
   Elusive ends are in sight. This project, that tale, those plans. And that saga is merely the saga on this blog. I blog elsewhere as other writers, peddling products that don't quite fit in this cosmic shoebox.
   My plans for this blog include...shoehorning stuff in here so that stuff does fit in here.
   If plans go according to plan, then I'll be doing collaborations with all kinds of people and one or two vast robot armies. (There may have been a casual reference to a secret base earlier, but I think we got away with it.)


One of my schemes involves a collaboration with Melissa C. Water...

Let's be politically correct about this...there will be lesbian cow-fucking. There's no fucking way to get around talking about the swearier fucking version of Tourette Syndrome, bitches. Fucking deal with it - I'm going to, Mr Frodofuck.
   If you found that offensive, hell, you can fuck the fuck off, Pluto.


Some of these collaborations stem from chats with my first author contact on the internet, Karen Woodward. Her earlier disappearance (by time machine) and her return kicked off the whole conversation that put collaborations to the fore.
   If she returns from her second time travel trip in good order, Karen should also pop up in my collaborative work. One day, we'll do a radio show.
   "We present The Karen Woodward Mystery Hour, brought to you by Proliferated Coal Products: sending coal everywhere."

The Canadian author and time-hopper Karen Woodward, in a grainy crowd shot from 1936 at the Berlin Olympics. Here, Karen is stunned into silence as fellow-Canadian Frank Amyot secures the gold in Canoeing.

(I might possibly have let fly the news that Karen travels through time to research her stories. Don't think anyone noticed the slip-up, though.)


And there are other collaborators, too secret to mention. This stuffed bear, for example.

I've had to hide the poor bastard's identity in a grainy photo. He didn't want his family to learn of his encounter with novelist and potty-mouthed stand-up Joy Eileen.
   Something tells me that's going to be the rudest collaboration on the list. Or I could work with Joy, instead.


There are other people, vast robot armies, and alien beings from worlds unknown...but we'll reach them in good order. If we ever reach them.
   Over the weekend, putting this blog post together, I had a reversal of plans and things weren't looking good. Then, as the weekend crumbled to dust, I had a reversal of reversal of plans. So the whole show might be back on again.
   This blog post was about plans laid down, not plans I have. I don't set out to be cryptic or mysterious, though I've been told I am all three.

Monday, 1 January 2018


How hard is it to read 52 books in a year?
   It isn't. Start by reading three books a week and then find yourself skipping weeks when life intrudes on your page-turning. Hope that it averages out.
   Did I make my quota? On the last day of the year, I finished the 52nd book. Mission accomplished.
   The challenge now is to finish off whole shelves of books in a far more organised way. In finishing shelves, I can clear entire bookcases of unread tomes.
   That's the goal. But the plan? Sadly, the plan is unchanged - I read what I damn well want to tackle next. And that might leave a pesky shelf or a troublesome bookcase unloved and wasting by the wayside.
   If I concentrate on this alcove, and that's a shaky prospect, then I am staring at five bookcases arranged in a semi-circle. To clear the large bookcase to my left, I'd tackle around 25 volumes. Half a year's reading, pretty much.
   I'm not certain of the number, there. I have three books in a loose series and I know I've read two of them. So, just to be sure, I'd need to read all three of them. That's 27 volumes.
   Quirks intrude. To the right, I see twelve or thirteen books that I must look at. Once I look at them, I'll know if I've read maybe that one on the end and the one next to it...
   My memory is something that comes rated  highly by other people. But I don't feel that, when staring at SO MANY BOOKS. Have I read that one? I'm sure I have.
   This led me to read a book on the renaissance twice over, at a distance of a good half-decade. Didn't matter. It was a good book. And if I read it again by accident, I'm sure it'll still be a good book.
   Directly ahead, eleven books taunt me. Read those, all on one shelf, and the bookcase itself is swept clean. Well. Damn.
   The problem is that a book is a book is a book until you count page after page after page. And for every shelf of ten books, there's a shelf of eight reasonable books and two massive logs.
   I must hacksaw my way through the logs. It's an achievement to pick up a slim volume and polish the damn thing off in a day. That week's book is done, and makes room for the log - and the log must be chewed through at a hundred pages a day every day for five days straight. I am a small termite, making little progress, in one of those weeks.
   And I haven't even considered the books in the other place. Across a darkened hallway, there lies a room with even more books inside its bulging walls.
   The good news. Books bought last year didn't exceed books read. So I am winning this war. Either I catch up on my excess or an entire case lands on me and I am squished by the weight of my folly.
   To summarise: never buy loads of books in a sale, read your way down through the deficit...and then immediately buy more books in another sale, putting you back where you started.
   It's hard to recover from that.
   I'm doing what I can, a page at a time. Is that good enough? Well, I finish the books. And I haven't truly hated one book yet.

Friday, 8 December 2017


Spammers are annoying. Really annoying spammers take the time to dive past basic anti-spam defences.
   I picked up a few digital fleas - they never made it onto the live blog. The steam-heat blitzed them.
   What to do?
   I could've turned comments off. Instead, I chose to make comments open to members of this blog. Want to post a comment? Join up.
   Since instituting the construction of this mighty barrier, I've had no spam.
   Well. Damn.


What do they gain from spamming? Nothing. They are bots. Even the hidden human hands behind those bots gain nothing. No one comes to this blog to read spam boasts about high-powered financial services in your area.
   Or in anyone's area, come to that.
   Do I spam?
   Not really, no. Twitter is all about that coffee - with the spelling #coffee - and other topics of a serious nature. I'll Tweet that I've published a blog post, and I'll Tweet that I've published a book. But that's A TWEET.
   I don't Tweet BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK. Cut yourself a slice of that action and you'll see the word SPAM all the way through it.


Quirkily, I was irritated at Blogger. The system gave me the option of diverting spammers, and that system failed me. This is why I took the next step up.
   Blogger e-mails me to inform me of a comment's arrival. Seeing a spam notification in my in-box was as bad as seeing the spam on the original blogging site.
   I've had moderation switched on, since, oh, third and fourth and eighth parties came in to extol the supposed virtues of genuine headphones by the even-more-genuine Dr Dre.
   It's so nice of tenth parties to come in and raise awareness of the issues surrounding headphones.
   The Dre counterfeiters didn't stop by for long. It's the stock market goons who set up camp on random blog posts and commented about the deep abiding need to invest in a thing that may resemble a pyramid scheme on the surface.
   Just couldn't shake these fools, no matter how I tinkered with the blog. And so. Here we are, with the lesser solution - comments are now from members of the blog only.
   If that didn't work, I'd have gone in for COMMENTS OFF. Anyone who really wanted to say something then would still have the public e-mail address available to them.
   This is the same public e-mail address that brings me news: my Bank of Ireland account has been hacked AGAIN. Shocking security, over there. In this past year alone, I must have lost all of Sani Abacha's missing millions, by my reckoning.
   I'll check down the back of my digital sofa. See if I can rustle up loose change, edible biscuits, or a hefty dose of insider trading info. Sounds legit.

Friday, 3 November 2017


Job done?
   It's the start of November, and I've caught up...almost. With weeks to go, I've read 50 of the 52 books I planned to tackle this year.
   Except that I didn't plan a list. I chose this book or that book and got down to it.
   The state of play is wide open in January and narrow as hell as the last sands drift out of the calendar. Right now I don't have a shelf with two unread books on it...or I'd read those and close off another shelf.
   This means...unless I go book-daft between now and the last hours of December...that I've pretty much limited myself to clearing three bookshelves.
   Recap: a shelf takes an average of two-dozen books. A short shelf will squeeze in a dozen. After reading 52 books, I'd expect to clear two long shelves and a few unread books on a short shelf.
   No surprises there.
   Did I stick to reading hardbacks? Given my two mass-purchases of hardback books in generous sales created a bookberg that collided with my shelves, wrecking them, the agenda is to melt the bookberg.
   However, through the year you buy in a few paperbacks and insist on the rule: if a book comes into the house, it jumps to the front of the queue. Try to read it the day it arrives.
   If we go by bookcase, I have 25 unread hardbacks to the left of me. Half a year's reading. Forward and left in a most awkward bookcase, there are 35 volumes queuing up.
   Ahead of me there are a mere eleven tomes desperate to be read. If I read that one small shelf, I clear the entire bookcase. Why don't I hop on that train next year? Perhaps I will.
   On my right, bloody hell, only five. That can't be right. And yet, I find it easy to count to five.
   I must away, to another room, and check on the rest. This is what happens when you buy in loads of books.


But I stop in my tracks and wonder what these hardbacks weigh. After a few mystic miscalculations, I misconclude that I'm staring at half a metric tonne.
   I buy hardbacks for their durability. Moths last longer than paperbacks. I don't buy books as potential investments. Hell, I don't buy anything as a potential investment.
   Nothing I own is bought with the view to its increased value over time. If I don't recycle or throw out the things that are worn out, I keep what I buy or make gifts of things.
   This means these books are here until I'm not here. I clear the shelves of unread books, but I never clear shelves of books unless I am moving bookcases.
   At the moment, my reorganisation of the collection leaves me with two near-empty bookcases...and one of those was bought in as the lastest of the last bookcases I'll ever buy...yes, I've thought that before. That's the lastest of the last this time.
   Lack of space is funny that way.
   So. Challenge. Can you read 52 books a year? Yes. Did I read a book a week? No. I started the year reading more per week, and knew I'd tail off as I tackled immensely lengthy volumes. It averaged out, just in time.
   Will I clear more than three bookshelves next year? Depends entirely on what I feel like reading. As usual, the plan isn't to have a list but to get through a pile without adding significantly to the pile by purchasing even more books.
   If you or loved ones have been affected by the issues raised in this blog post, remember there is no cure for book-reading. Readers will buy more books even if they have enough unread books to construct a small house. Ooh. A bookhouse. Mmm.


That weighty detour took me away from the truth. Elsewhere, not right here, there IS a bookshelf with two unread books on it. Will I tackle those in the coming weeks? Depends entirely on what I feel like reading. ;)

Monday, 2 October 2017


A chunk of the way into the year, I pondered the state of my bookshelves. Was I clearing bookshelves after reading books, week in and week out?
   For reasons of the plot, no.
   A writer's bookshelves are not stacked alphabetically. As a writer, you cram the books in by height, or width, BOTH, and that is the system of systems - perfect in its randomosity.


Now I am a chunk of the way from year's end, and the great accounting nears. Have I been reading a book a week? No. I started out by reading more than a book every week, knowing that the pace would slacken as I tackled weightier tomes.
   As I am reading more than a book a week at this end of the year, I am on track to finish 52 books in 2017. Luckily, I didn't buy 52 books. I reined that unicorn in, oh, many a moon ago.


How many shelves have I cleared of unread books, then? Two. And one of those I managed only in the past month. (And I killed off two shelves by reading a bare minimum of books. Not even a handful.)
   Averaging it out, I'll have finished the equivalent of two full bookshelves by the end of December. Where the hell are those shelves? Here, there...
   I read what I read thanks to the random nature of my very practical filing-system. Books fit on shelves. I vary the topic, week by week, and that sends me flying around the shelves on a mission to bring the number of unread books down to microscopic size.
   Quick poll. To my left, I'm staring at four bookshelves in one wide bookcase...
   The lowest shelf doesn't count. That's packed with reference books, and I am not in the mood to read dictionaries from cover to cover. (Exception: I've read The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce...so that you don't have to.)
   Above that, most of the books are unread. Fifteen. Possibly sixteen. I have three books by J.M. Barrie there, and I know I've read two of them. But I can't be sure which two. I leave them there for now, knowing I'll solve that puzzle when I take a notion to.
   Higher up. There are five unread books, all short story collections, and I am working my way through those VERY gradually.
   Top shelf. Three books to go, there. No. Four. It pays to double-check, and peek past the bulk of one mighty tome to see an unread book not in its shadow...the missing book is way over to my right, on a table packed with unread books. Over a dozen of them...removed from shelves for convenience...
   If I see the books off the shelves and on the table, I am more likely to take action. It's a system that works, going by the books I've polished off this year.
   My unread book problem is dwindling. Yet I don't seem to clear the shelves. There'll be a turning-point on the shelf situation. But I fear it won't be this year.
   In my first post on this topic, I cleared a shelf. And I've cleared a second shelf since. My fast-paced high-powered executive lifestyle whizzes along faster than I care to describe.
   Glancing sideways, I see I'm being overtaken by a snail. Wonder what the snail's reading.
   Look on your own Shelves, ye Mighty Readers, and despair.