Monthly archives: February 2011

Daily Blog 02/28/2011

  • The worlds’ oldest aircraft carrier which was a precursor to today’s giant Navy vessels has been discovered – rusting by a river bank.

    Looking like another just another rusting hull poking out of the water, for years the large dirt covered rusting wreck in the Thames was ignored.

    But a maritime journalist spotted the vessel was a 1918 Thorneycroft Seaplane Lighter.

    tags: aircraft WW1

  • tags: research weapons

  • If the mark of a classic is that every time you read it you discover something new, then the 1972 paperback of A. E. Van Vogt’s science-fiction novel “Quest for the Future” just might be a classic. Those who read the book when it was first published in hardcover in 1970 certainly won’t recognize this passage from Chapter 15: “A large gleaming machine with an opening at one end was wheeled in, and once again the cycle ran its Micronite Filter. Mild, Smooth Taste. For All the Right Reasons. Kent. America’s Quality Cigarette. King Size or Deluxe 100s.”

    tags: cigarette advertising publishing

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Willard tossed the big knife back and forth, making it twirl as it flew and increasing the distance between his hands.

“I’ve read your evaluation.” he announced, “Terrified of knives. So guess what I got myself? Not so sarcastic now, are you? Not so superior.”

The others watched the exchange in silence. They knew the facts, they had to understand Willard needed stopping. But he’d been bullying them so long they were too scared.

Which left Mike, watching the blade twirl. He followed its movements, mesmerised and in a cold sweat. Then he looked up at Willard’s face and took in the sick sadistic smirk. That settled it. Willard was right. At least, Willard was partly right.

A slap of Mike’s hand changed the knife’s trajectory. Willard had hardly registered the loss of his weapon before Mike’s knuckles crushed his windpipe.

Mike stepped back, away from Willard’s grasping hands as the big man collapsed, purple faced. “I read my evaluation as well, ‘Terrified of knives, may react unpredictably.’ Always finish the sentence.” There was a nasty cut on his left hand, possibly bone deep, but this wasn’t a moment to show weakness. “If any of you fuckers knows first aid you might be able to save him. The rest of you are with me. We’ve got a war to stop.”

links for 2011-02-24

  • The most frequently heard complaint about the BMW MINI is that it's not actually very mini these days. The company's latest concept, called the Rocketman, aims to address this, almost recreating the exterior dimensions of the original 1959 Alec Issigonis design in a package fit for modern motoring.
    (tags: Mini cars concept)

Daily Blog 02/23/2011

  • The most frequently heard complaint about the BMW MINI is that it’s not actually very mini these days. The company’s latest concept, called the Rocketman, aims to address this, almost recreating the exterior dimensions of the original 1959 Alec Issigonis design in a package fit for modern motoring.

    tags: Mini cars concept

  • Pulp magazines (often referred to as “the pulps”), also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long. Pulps were printed on cheap paper with ragged, untrimmed edges.

    The name pulp comes from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. Magazines printed on better paper were called “glossies” or “slicks.” In their first decades, they were most often priced at ten cents per magazine, while competing slicks were 25 cents apiece. Pulps were the successor to the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and short fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many respected writers wrote for pulps, the magazines are best remembered for their lurid and exploitative stories and sensational cover art. Modern superhero comic books are sometimes considered descendants of “hero pulps”; pulp magazines often featured illustrated novel-length stories of heroic characters, such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Phantom Detective.

    tags: pulp magazine

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Mapping the action

Mapping the action, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Of course, I should have done this before starting the story, not after I’d finished it. Part of the second draft will be sorting out where various bits of action take place, describing locations in more detail and clearing up continuity issues. I may also clean up the maps and use them as frontispieces.

I’ve also started doing floor plans of the building where most of the action takes place and sketched a couple of cover ideas.

Next I have to decide the pseudonym I’ll be publishing it under.

Collision cooking: Bacon and Egg Pie

This is about as far from collision cooking as you can get, actually. Bacon and Egg pie is a family/Cumbrian traditional recipe which can be guaranteed to taste good every time.

First, get or make your pastry. I’m not going to tell you how, if only because I cheat and use frozen pre-made pastry. Also, as usual, I’ll not be giving weights, because they’ll vary depending upon the size of the pie tin you use.

After lining the pie tin with the pastry, the first layer is bacon, obviously. I’ve often used the packs of offcuts you sometimes find in butchers, though they need a bit more preparation. It’s also worth doing a quick fry of the bacon before putting it into the pie, to get a little of the fat and water out of it.

Grate some pepper over the bacon and carefully break open the eggs and put them into the pie. Don’t fill it to the brim though, as the eggs expand a bit as they bake. This is the point where I occasionally throw a little variation into the mix and grate some mature cheddar over the eggs. As the pie bakes, the cheese melts between the eggs and creates veins of extra flavour. Of course, whenever I’m home and suggest this variation my mother gives me a look like she’s thinking of disowning me.

Put a lid on the pie and put it into the oven. If, like me, you’re a dirty rotten cheat when it comes to pastry the packet will have some guidelines for temperature. If you’re a virtuous person who makes their own pastry from scratch then you’ll also know how to bake it. I usually give it 45 minutes then test it and leave it for longer if necessary.

Bacon and Egg pie is delicious hot or cold. Cold, it goes well with tomatoes and a little mayonnaise.

One final, important point- Bacon and Egg pie is not quiche with a lid on. To even suggest that is slanderous. It’s far better than quiche.

links for 2011-02-22

  • A collaboration between over a dozen companies worldwide, nearly every piece of the Spin Light Bike is made of carbon fiber, from the frame to the brakes and even the cranks. As you'd expect, few of these parts are available at your LBS, meaning custom components had to be made to order, so don't be disappointed when we can't give you a price. And for those poor souls griping about carbon fiber's perceived lack of longevity, know this: the Spin's collaborators have logged between 12,000 and 15,000 miles since it's initial build.
    (tags: bike)
  • Arguably the most widely read science fiction of the 1980s, though rarely recognized as such, were the military techno-thrillers that topped the bestseller lists in that decade—novels like those written by Tom Clancy, Stephen Coonts, Dale Brown, Payne Harrison and Ralph Peters. The genre attracted little attention from serious critics in its heyday, and with the decline in its popularity it has received less attention of all kinds. Nonetheless, the place of these novels in a much longer history of such writing, and its connections with the science fiction tradition more broadly, are both well worth a look.
  • A penny dreadful (also called penny horrible, penny awful,[1] penny number and penny blood) was a type of British fiction publication in the 19th century that usually featured lurid serial stories appearing in parts over a number of weeks, each part costing a penny. The term, however, soon came to encompass a variety of publications that featured cheap sensational fiction, such as story papers and booklet "libraries." The penny dreadfuls were printed on cheap pulp paper and were aimed primarily at working class adolescents.
  • With the growth of education in the later part of the 19th century, (Universal education started in England in 1871) demand was growing for reading material aimed at the juvenile market. While the first known edition of what would later become known as a "story paper" was The Young Gentleman's Magazine, published in 1777 the first story paper to make an impact was The Boys' and Girls' Penny Magazine, first published in September 1832. One of the first publications aimed at boys alone was Every Boy's Magazine in 1863. In 1866, Boys of England was introduced as a new type of publication, an eight page magazine that featured serial stories as well as articles and shorts of interests and was printed on cheap paper.
    (tags: magazines)
  • Dime novel, though it has a specific meaning, has also become a catch-all term for several different (but related) forms of late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S. popular fiction, including “true” dime novels, story papers, five- and ten-cent weekly libraries, “thick book” reprints, and sometimes even early pulp magazines.[1] The term was being used as late as 1940, in the short-lived pulp Western Dime Novels. Dime novels are, at least in spirit, the antecedent of today’s mass market paperbacks, comic books, and even television shows and movies based on the dime novel genres. In the modern age, "dime novel" has become a term to describe any quickly written, lurid potboiler and as such is generally used as a pejorative to describe a sensationalized yet superficial piece of written work.
    (tags: dimenovel)

Must share the distraction

I’m only a few hundred words away from completing the first draft of my current project, so my fear of finishing stuff has kicked in and I spent a lot of yesterday letting myself get distracted by stuff.

But it was good stuff, so I want to share it with you. Some of you will thank me, most of you will curse me.

First up is TV Tropes, a wiki dedicated to storytelling tricks and recurring themes, replete with examples not just from the telly but also from loads of other media. It’s dangerous, it sucks you in, with every page having multiple links you just have to follow deeper down the rabbit hole. I could claim that it was research, as there’s a page on slasher films, but I’d be lying. (And I went off to find that link 20 minutes ago and got sidetracked by multiple links.)

The other big distraction was Gratuitous Space Battles. GSB is a spacefleet building and fighting game. You design ships, form fleets based upon resource points and then go and do battle. Winning battles gets you rewards which you can trade in for more exotic and powerful weaponry. Unlike other Real Time Strategy games, once you’ve started a battle you can’t give any orders. You define your fleet’s tactics, down to the level of individual ships (or flights of fighters), and arrange their starting positions then hope you’ve got it right.

I recently added the Galactic Conquest, which makes the battles a little less gratuitous by giving you a whole galaxy to conquer and fleets and finances to manage. It also adds the ability to issue one order- Retreat- mid battle. I’m not a great tactician, by any means, I follow a more realistic battle plan- build the biggest fleet possible and hope it’s large enough to kick the opposition’s arse. It doesn’t work all the time, but it’s a good place to start.

Now, I must go and finish my novella.

Or maybe just one little battle……..

Deadly games

The force feedback suits weren’t strictly illegal, but it was impossible to get an import licence for them. Some still made it into the country of course, and many more were kludged together from internet plans.

Every couple of months one of these DIY suits would seriously hurt or even kill a user. They would put the safety switch in the hands of an idiot or a sadist, or they wouldn’t wire one in at all.

Most of them then went and played GTA.

Daily Blog 02/20/2011

  • A collaboration between over a dozen companies worldwide, nearly every piece of the Spin Light Bike is made of carbon fiber, from the frame to the brakes and even the cranks. As you’d expect, few of these parts are available at your LBS, meaning custom components had to be made to order, so don’t be disappointed when we can’t give you a price. And for those poor souls griping about carbon fiber’s perceived lack of longevity, know this: the Spin’s collaborators have logged between 12,000 and 15,000 miles since it’s initial build.

    tags: bike

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

So Much To Answer For at Smashwords

So Much To Answer For is now available through Smashwords, in formats to suit just about every ebook reader out there.

Tommy Hill walked back into Manchester on the tail of a thunderstorm, promising easy money and atonement for his former sins. Joe Wilkinson doesn’t want anything to do with his former friend, but it’s not going to work out that way. Once again the Police think he’s involved, and some want revenge for Hill’s escape last time, and there are some dangerous characters who already think he’s Hill’s bag man. Can Joe stay out of jail and alive long enough to keep his name clean? And who is the mystery blonde who wants to buy his art?

The view from Oklahoma

For a brief moment earlier I thought today would be the day I broke the 500 words a day average for the last thirty days, but I was just misreading the numbers on my spreadsheet.

Anyway, I’m in Oklahoma cafe, probably the place where I get the most writing done, and I thought I’d take a little break to report on the status of my current projects and my plans for what comes next.

The main project at the moment is Slashed, I’ve been working on it since before Christmas and I’m getting close to finishing it. I’m about to enter the big final showdown and I’m at 25,400 words. I don’t write long books, though I reckon some of the continuity and detail adding I’ll have to do when the first draft is finished should push the word count into the mid-30,000s. It’s an action/horror hybrid with a bit of black comedy thrown in. It’s quite violent and a bit silly. If you liked my other books you may not like this one. In fact, it’s so different to my other stories that I may use a pseudonym for it. My disreputable brother Gareth could be blamed for all my more schlocky work. Depending upon how long it takes to edit and do the cover, Slashed could be released by the end of March.

After the first draft of Slashed is done I’ll probably finish off a short story I started a couple of week’s ago. The working title is Waking With The Dead. It’s currently at about a thousand words and I reckon it’ll run to three or four when finished.

The next big project will probably be a crime story which built to work best in ereaders or browsers. It’ll focus on a murder, with a series of short tales following the event’s effect upon all the different people who are involved. The reader will be able to jump from one narrative to another as tales intersect and build up their understanding of the events based upon the route they take. There’ll be multiple starting and ending points and a few Easter egg strands which can only be accessed from within the story. It sounds more complicated when I try to explain it like this than it will probably turn out to be when I get down to it. Trust me, I have a map for it and everything. It’s probably going to be called A Death In Didsbury, partly because the previous story by that name has floundered because of problems with the theme and character motivation.

After that, I’m not sure what’s next. I should get back to the Irwin Baker series (though some of the series’ characters will be appearing in A Death In Didsbury). Or some other grand story may come to me. We shall see.

If I keep up the good work I should hit the 500 a day mark soon. I shall report back when I do.

On thrillers

Guest blogging for Charlie Stross, Harry Connolly has some ideas on the classification of thrillers. To borrow his terminology, Sounds of Soldiers is a story which takes place after a High Thriller/Technothriller plot goes wrong (or, at least, resolves itself in a way which would be unthinkable to the likes of Clancy).

The comment thread seems to be a discussion of where, and whether, a technothriller would fall within Connolly’s definition and is interesting in itself.

Sale! Get Sounds of Soldiers half price from Smashwords

As I’ve only just started publishing at Smashwords I’d like to get things going with a sale. You can get Sounds of Soldiers for half price if you use the coupon code KA58W on checkout.

Tiger is also available for $1.00 if you use the coupon code UQ93B.

Both offers are valid until March 15th.