Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Top Gear

Took another step closer to 40 today, and celebrated by taking the day off work - a concession that actually meant something because both kids were in school at the same time. That's not happened for months.

Birthdays are a bit more fun with the littlies, though - I let them unwrap my presents this morning because they love doing it so much. Amongst the gifts from relatives here and in the UK (thanks, everyone) were DVDs, some rather good books, alcohol and a shirt. There was also a CD of big-haired rock from my wife - it's by a band I'd not heard since my teens, then one of their tunes turned up in a TV show we were watching a few months ago. Not going to say who the band are, but the album title has a year in it ... and if you can guess it from that you're as tragic as I am.

Special noodles for lunch with my good lady, and there's cake and candles still to come - another birthday tradition that's better for its mesmeric effect on children. And then tomorrow it's back to work. That draft's not going to write itself ...

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Don't Get to Do This Very Often ...

... so I hope you'll forgive me a little moment of excitement.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


OK. Done now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Weakest Links

It's only just sunk in that because Big Finish have redesigned their website most of the links over on the right hand side of the page there have been duds for at least a couple of months. Apologies if anyone's clicked on them and come up with error messages - they're all fixed now.

It's been a busy weekend so far, although largely for the wrong reasons. Yesterday should have been set aside for work on Signature Walk, but we all went to the beach instead. You could see that as a profligate use of time that's already in short supply, but then the seaside did look like this ...

... so you can see why we bunked off.

By the time we'd got home and the effects of drinking beer on a hot day had kicked in, I was no use at the keyboard. Atoned for that today, however, with a two-thousand word assault on the first draft to finish it by lunchtime. Needless to say - as with all my first drafts - it's largely pants, but I've still got a few days to pretty it up.

And this afternoon it's over to my mother-in-law's for an early birthday dinner before heading back here for a binge-until-you-puke night of football. First up the (recorded) A-League Grand Final between the Central Coast Mariners and the Newcastle Jets. That's followed by the (recorded) rematch between Sydney FC and David Beckham's LA Galaxy. Sydney caned the Galaxy in Australia last year - this time they're having a wee kick-about in Hawaii.

And to round off, the big one ... Spurs v Chelsea in the Carling Cup final. Spurs haven't won a trophy since ... oh, I think a king was probably on the throne. Worth staying up until the small hours to cheer them on then; but I may be extremely grumpy tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cooler Heads Prevail (Some of the Time)

The temperatures in Perth have sorted themselves out at last, meaning I'm considerably more creative (and noticeably less grumpy. My family threw a party to celebrate).

Submitted the synopsis for the strangely titled Signature Walk last week, and got a tentative go-ahead from the editor-bod (you know who you are!) to complete a first draft. Started work today, and things are moving along reasonably well - it feels good to be back at work.

Getting the nod for the first draft is by no means a commission - the stories that get included in the anthology in question won't be decided until the start of next month earliest. Even so, it's satisfying to know I'm thinking along the right lines, more so since hearing some disheartening news about another project. I won't be letting that news stop me, I just need to have a rethink about another story I've been working on ...

Meanwhile - and also disappointingly - it looks like I'll be missing out on a trip to Melbourne this weekend, thanks to the funds for my flight going astray. The idea was that I'd zip over to the east coast in time to see Simon Guerrier on his way back from the Gallifrey One convention in LA, as well as meeting up with fellow writers Ian Mond and Dave Hoskin. Looks like that idea's dead in the water now. Fortunately I've only recently seen Simon in London, and Mondy (and possibly Dave) will be in town in a few weeks for the Swancon sci-fi convention - along with someone else I'm very excited to be meeting ...

Not a total loss then, but I'm still not happy about having to miss a night on the beer with some like minds. Grrrr.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Precipitate Action

It's tipping it down! Hooray!

People may now talk to me without fear of having their heads bitten off. Meanwhile I'm going to sit down - in the cool - and do something productive.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hot Tempered

I'm not coping with the heat at the moment. There's been no rain in Perth since 19 December, and with temperatures still in the high 30s, any task involving concentration has been utterly beyond me. If I'm not narcoleptic, I'm prey to irrational flare-ups of irritability, neither of which are conducive to work.

That said, I finally got something down on paper today, after more than a week of lethargy. It's a synopsis I'm pitching for inclusion in a short story collection, and with the deadline for proposals just three weeks away it's a relief to have done it. All I can say at the moment (in case the story sucks very badly and I need to erase all record of it having existed) is that it's called Signature Walk, and that my extreme annoyance with the heat may come through in the writing. But only a little bit.

The heat's also bringing out Perth's nutters. I was standing outside a public building yesterday, listening to a podcast and waiting for my wife to come out, when a seedy looking bloke approached me and accused me of being an undercover cop. Rather than lurking around, he suggested, I should just search his car and be done with it.

He didn't buy my explanation that I was just waiting for someone, and continued to exhort my rifling through his glovebox until finally losing interest and driving away. Can't understand why he thought I was undercover. It's not like I was standing there in a hat and dark glasses, focusing intently on the voices coming through an earpiece ...


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Some Not-So-Light Reading

My good lady wife has started along the road to her PhD this weekend, disappearing off to university for the whole of Saturday and Sunday. With the temperatures pushing 40 and with the kids rattling around it's been too hot and too noisy to work, but that does mean I've been able to catch up on some reading, in between keeping the little ones entertained.

One of my objectives during my UK trip last month was to pick up a stack of books I'd not normally be able to get here in Australia. One such volume was Thrill-Power Overload - the history of British comic 2000AD - by my old workmate David Bishop.

I'd been hanging out to get my hands on a copy for a while, but with no local branch of Amazon in Australia the cost was prohibitive. The sheer weight of the volume itself would bump up the cost of shipping to close to the price of the book itself - it's a hefty work and no mistake. So my plan was to simply buy one in Blightly and carry it back in the hand-luggage.

And it's been well worth waiting for - I've been a reader of 2000AD since the early 80s, and having the opportunity to see what went on behind the scenes is fascinating. It doesn't hurt that I know a few of the people named in the book (not least David himself, who edited 2000AD back in the 90s) but even without that the stories of creative tussles and brushes with cancellation make for absorbing reading.

And while I'm extolling the virtues of Books By People I Know, you should also check out The First Emperor of China by Jonathan Clements.

I've been reading this parallel to T-PO and, as someone who knows nothing at all about Chinese history I've found it immensely enjoyable. Of course, it helps that the Emperor's rise, reign and replacement were steeped in blood and intrigue. Great stuff.

That sounds like the student returning home now, so I'm off to see how her first test went. Bizarrely, I was the one who had the bad night's sleep last night, troubled by dreams of turning up for exams without having done any revision whatsoever ...