Don’t wait for it to happen. Don’t even want it to happen. Just watch what does happen.

Seriously. If you want gifs for writing, "Secret Window" is the business.


So, I haven’t blogged much of late. I’ve wanted to: there have been a few rants brewing in my head that I wanted to hammer out, and some of them have even been relatively coherent in the drafts that I have written. And yet I haven’t posted any of them. It feels like they’d be ineffective, that they’d generate no positive forward motion. Anyone in disagreement would sink their heels in, because who am I to say that they maybe, possibly could be wrong on something, and then anyone in agreement would do likewise. And that’s the best case scenario, where the facsimile of a dialogue exists. More likely are the chances of a dogpile (yay for the internet, where pointing out the desperately problematic behaviour of – let’s just spitball ideas here – a popular author will get you buried in abuse!) or, let’s be honest, resounding silence.

Perhaps a faint echo off the back of the giant, empty internet cavern walls? Anyway, I decided to leave it, and considering the sour-faced “why am I not fully recovered yet? FFS” mood I’ve been in for the past few weeks, I haven’t felt like posting anything.

As you can see, I’m super cheerful at the moment. For some reason, I’ve got weird aches in my feet and ankle (although the ankle I’ve gone over on once, so that goes some way to explaining it) and walking around is really uncomfortable. Sitting down less so, but I’m still hyper aware of my feet, and after two weeks I’m starting to think it is never, ever going away.*

In brighter news, Halloween Shorts are coming back! Yes! The short story adventures that a load of Team Mushens piled into last year (with the excuse of it leading up to World Fantasy Con) will be returning at the latter end of October with even more stories and a surprise twist for 2014! I will definitely have a story up here (when I get round to writing it, naturally) and *whispers* one appearing somewhere else, too. We’ve got a good lineup of authors contributing, even in spite of their collectively busy schedules, and it should be a lot of fun.

Meanwhile, I am working away on projects. I caught up with my agent, which is always good fun, and got some editing notes back, which is…let’s not say “fun”, because smacking my forehead off the desk going “HOW DO I NOVEL?” doesn’t really count as fun, but still definitely good. The new fantasy book is on hold while I get the edit done, but I’ll be finishing it over NaNoWriMo (or getting as close to done as I can manage).

And that’s things pretty much up to date. The more exciting stuff I write, the more desperately boring I become in real life.

Oh! For anyone that plays DOTA 2, here are my thoughts on the new patch (6.82) – Chen’s ultimate with Aghanim’s Scepter is the BEST. Why bother with the standard objectives when you can run around the map with a dragon AND a Triceratops yelling “LOOKIT DINOSAUR” over and over? It really is a game-changer, and by that I mean “a design feature that will probably get me reported by everyone I play with”.


*madness, of course it will resolve. That doesn’t stop me from moping, though!

When fire burns, is it at war?


I haven’t finished a single-player game since completing Mass Effect 3. When it came out, Lisa and I put an entire weekend aside to finish it in one complete play through. For the record, we were fine with the original ending (we chose Synthesis). As I later put it, the entire game felt like an ending, played out over a series of very emotional hours. The line “Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.” still gives me major feels.

But still, I haven’t really picked up any new games since then. While I appreciate the growing power of narrative in gaming, something in me just isn’t drawn as much towards them any more. I still like multiplayer games, and quite enjoy the social aspect of sitting down and having a stressful time with friends while other friends (or even complete strangers) trounce us over and over. I’m not very good at games. I was all right at Starcraft once,* back when I was procrastinating over editing a novel and playing game after game of it could fill the time quite nicely, but now I just feel angry and disappointed as everyone else seems to have mastered their sub-15 minute builds while I’m still dawdling over which building to make.

I don’t think I can play a MMO again, either. I enjoyed World of Warcraft when it started but by the time we stopped it had passed through feeling like a job (or an obligation, making sure we were ready to raid every evening) to something that we just happened to fill our evenings with, like Eastenders or trips to the local. Not that there’s anything bad about any of these things, but I was starting to get that itchy feeling at the back of my head, that feeling that I was spending all my time consuming and not doing a whole lot of creating. It’s no coincidence that I started writing almost as soon as I stopped paying my subscription. Your milage may vary on that sort of thing – certainly there are plenty of creatives who can and do juggle their time effectively – but nevertheless: that’s at least one thing I had to do to get my arse in gear.

But I still like games. I’d like to play more, or at least to have opportunities to play more. I’ve had it in my head for a little while that I would really like to build a little arcade table…well, build is a strong word. I’d like to drill a bunch of holes on a suitably-sized piece of easy-build furniture and put two arcade sticks in, then hook it up to a dedicated computer so that I could play arcade games on the tv with my other half or anyone else I could trick into coming to the house. Nidhogg looks like the most fun ever and I know there are other games that would equally fit the bill.

On that note, I think Johann Sebastian Joust would be an incredible convention game. It’d be hell getting it on the official programme (Health and Safety nightmare, or what?) but if someone were to suddenly start carting round a laptop and some Move controllers, I could well imagine a few people would be well up for it.

*Bronze league “all right” which is just north of “acceptably poor”.


What *is* the plural of Walrus?

This was a conversation I found myself having Friday afternoon after being asked to draw a graph of my week on a sheet of paper, days being the independent variable (time-limited) along the x-axis and my mood being dependent, indicated on the y-axis. Interestingly, on being asked that question, I had to instantly go back and amend my graph because in all honesty it was the best thing that had happened to me all week.

We agreed that “walruses” is boring and shame was poured on one contributor’s head for adding a superfluous apostrophe to make it “walruse’s” on the whiteboard (also prompting the question, “what’s a walruse and what stuff would it possess?“).

Walrice didn’t survive the screening process but walri? That felt closer to the mark.

What if we added an extra vowel? What if we doubled that shit right up?

Walrii. yes, my friends, that feels so much more comfortable on the tongue.

Being Scottish, I staunchly defended the possibility of an ancient, Caledonian flavour – hundreds of walrae, their sleek, heavy-set bodies crowding the rocky shores – but it was summarily rejected by the harsh, Southern tones of my English companions.
Continue reading “What *is* the plural of Walrus?”

Wait, can I stop the timer if I need a pee?

I can’t remember where I read it, but I did read something recently that said the Victorians had incredible powers of concentration – that by adulthood, they could sit and listen to a lecture for ten hours straight. I think it was an article comparing the Kindle to the iPad as an e-reader, but it perhaps says something about my powers of concentration that I gave up on trying to find the original article or even a reference to back it up after three Google searches.

The follow-on from that potential factoid (in the correct sense of the word) was that we – a collective “we” that doesn’t so much include humanity as it does geeks that follow links to tech ‘blogs via Twitter – are a skittish, slapdash lot by comparison. Our machines can run multiple information streams simultaneously, or have the potential to access other streams, so we use that versatility to flick back and forth between things, dip in and out.

Whether that’s for the better or for the worse, I’m not going to argue either side of it. I like Victorian themes in my fiction (I particularly love the desperate, staggering arrogance of the British Empire) but I’m also quite glad I don’t live then. Plus I like having the internet to Google randomly about history. It’s just like being genuinely intelligent!

Still, I do have issues finding time for things. I get distracted very easily, and end up dithering about taking forever to do the thing I actually wanted to get on and do.

So, Lisa suggested I start compartmentalising actions into 15 minute chunks. “Everyone has at least 15 minutes in their day,” she said, vastly underestimating my ability to flick between Twitter and various news sites hitting F5 for three hours at a time.

And this is the result – a blog post written in 15 minutes (well, 9 and counting). I’m not sure if it’s up to much cop, but it’s a start. Breaking the tendency that I had to spend a good hour farting about putting a couple of lines together is good for me.

And I could do with a few more good for me things. I’m pretty tired at the moment, more than a little stressed, and it feels like I haven’t got a second for any form of outlet to ease off on either. I could go for a run, but that’s not something I can package up into a 15 minute chunk – any longer and I’d start to feel guilty about the stuff I’m concurrently not doing for work while out running.

Three minutes left. Just enough time to revise the awful title, add tags and mention that I’ll be attending Platform Expos on Sunday for a few hours with my camera and hopefully I’ll be able to put together a nice little post about Hull’s gaming scene.

We should’ve named one “Buck”.

Today, we drove down to Outgate Poultry and bought ourselves some chickens. It had to happen, really. We had already spent almost £400 on an Eglu, and God only knows how much else on bedding, feed, grit, diatomaceous earth and other chicken-keeping necessities and sundries that would have made not buying chickens a financial disaster.

The smallholding we bought them from was a little bit far away, but it was really worth making the trip down there because the guy running the place was very experienced and very helpful. We arrived nice and early, and he was able to give us lots of advice on settling the chickens in and looking after them – much of it both of us had read already, but it was nice to hear it confirmed and to get the chance to ask questions.

What I wasn’t aware of when we bought our three birds is that they are self-packing:


The Blue on the right is called Kerrigan, Queen of Blades. The Black, below and on the left is Commander Shepard. The youngest bird, the Ranger at the top, is Alexstrasza the Life-Binder.

Yes, we are that sad.

When we got home we gave them a quick chance to run around a little (an hour in a cardboard box can’t be good for anyone’s nerves) and then picked them up (took one or two goes to get hold of Alexstrasza) and put them in the run. They need to stay in there for a few days at first so that they become habituated to living in the coop and run. Eventually they’ll get command of the whole garden but this first bit of captivity is essential, apparently.

I might let them out for a little bit later on, though.


Kerrigan and Alexstrasza check out their new house. I went out to check on them a few minutes ago and discovered Shepard squatting obstinately in the nesting box, Kerrigan trying to take all of the bedding out one piece at a time and Alexstrasza trying to devour the same leaf she had been picking at three-quarters of an hour earlier.


Shepard staring intently at a piece of completely featureless land trying to find something of worth. Kind of like the mining in Mass Effect 2, really.

That’s all well and good, but how does a flute work?

Lisa and I went to see a concert of harp and flute music tonight, performed by Sally Pryce (harp…as in, she plays it, not a harp called Sally) and Adam Walker (flute).

They were both very talented players, although I thought the acoustics of the church were a little against them; it seemed to project the sound of the flute much more clearly towards the back of the room and as a result he seemed to smother his partner a little.  With different seats I’m guessing the experience would have been a lot more balanced.

Also they didn’t play any AC/DC or Slipknot covers.  Boo.

Joking aside, I thought the format of harp and flute would work well for most of the Nobuo Uematsu stuff as used in pretty much every Final Fantasy soundtrack, ever.  One of the tangoes they played sounded surprisingly close to a battle theme at one point…

…I’m such a geek.

Movies, games, and a to-do list.

Watched The Hurt Locker last night.  For the most part, it’s very, very good.  Kathryn Bigelow overcomes the majority of her urges to slip back into genre conventions, and the tight focus, both in shooting and script, on the three-man Explosive Ordinance Disposal squad is a decision that pays off consistently throughout the film.

Continue reading “Movies, games, and a to-do list.”

Even if you don’t play Team Fortress 2…

The Valve blog is still hilarious.

Here is yesterday’s post, written by the Soldier.

I don’t have to know what the hell twitters and texting and body sprays are to understand that they’re not the sort of thing men should be engaged in. Like conversations, or painting things that aren’t a house.


If you’re not sure who the Soldier is, this should help (NSFW warning for cartoon violence and hilarity).