Friday, 27 May 2011

Writing Fit

Apparently living on 4 hours sleep, codeine (for a clicking jaw) & Irn Bru (the real national drink of Scotland) isn't healthy.

Who’d have thought it?  On the plus side I don’t smoke or drink, which probably makes me a bad writer type as many of the great writers did. 

So, I'm on a health kick. 

This consists of –

  • Trying to wean myself off Irn Bru (the sugar laden drink from Barrs).  This isn’t easy.  The Bru is like crack cocaine to me.
  • Starting to do more exercise. I walk for miles with the dog every day and have inner thigh muscles of steel, but that is clearly not enough. So, I have began doing one of the 10 Minute Solutions DVDs. Target Toning is meant to be toning for beginners.
  • Trying to con myself into believing I don’t like chocolate. I have shown remarkable restraint. My proof is the big bar of Galaxy that’s still sitting in my kitchen.
  • I have started listening to Paul McKenna’s I Can Make You Thin hypnosis tape. In the absence of him being willing to pay for extensive liposuction I listen to the tape. The weird thing is it works. The day after I’ve listened to it I find myself eating less.

Now, if only I had time to listen to the tape more.

Monday, 23 May 2011

It's stormy here on this island

Today on the Isle of Cumbrae where I live, I woke up to this -

And this....

Makes us realise just how small we all are.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Is there such a thing as method writing?

With method acting, actors try and create the same emotions in themselves as their characters feel. I try to do the same with my writing.

For instance
- if I have a character who is trapped and starving, I try to pretend I feel the same way. I will write that part whilst I'm hungry even if it means not eating anything for the rest of the day.

- if my character is thirsty, even if I  need a drink I won't take one.

- if they're scared I will try to go back to a time in my life when I was also scared. I will go to that place in my head and try and recreate it. How did I feel, what was the helplessness like, what range of emotions did I go through, did the fear have a smell, a taste? How did my mind and my body react to it?

- if they're cold, then I will be cold. We're in this together - me and the character I've created, so why should I sit in comfort whilst they suffer? 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Versatile blogger award - Thanks Carol

Many thanks to Carol for passing on the Versatile Blogger Award.  In line with tradition, I'm listing 7 (Hopefully) interesting things about myself. 

1-I love zombie movies. The gorier the better and am working on a zombie novel. The weird thing is I'm a vegetarian and can think of nothing worse than being a zombie. 

2-I thought I'd hit it big when I invented a football themed boardgame when I was 19. The company loved it and were talking enough money for me to buy a flat, but then they went bust.

3-I have recently discovered Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer books and I absolutely love them. His dialogue is so wonderful you don't need loads of speech tags.

4-My biggest regret in life was not getting to interview Hurricane Higgins the snooker player. I had an interview set up via his agent (this is over ten years ago, now) when he did one of his famous walkabouts and couldn't be found.

5-I live in Scotland (on an island called the Isle of Cumbrae) and think its the most beautiful country in the world. I would never leave it to live anywhere else. I have nightmares of dying outside my beloved country and not being able to get home. I also love my country's sense of humour. We laugh at everything.

6-I used to work in a pyschiatric hospital laundry. One day a colleague found a scalpel in a doctor's coat and sliced off her finger.

7-I love the gory books that Shaun Hutson writes. Books like Slugs and Relics. His books have very little characterisation, but boy do they entertain. That to me should be the one thing books should be - entertaining.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Can The Office survive without Steve Carell?

I hope the show can survive without Steve Carell, but its doubtful.

To my mind, Will Ferrell, has been a disappintment and the last episode (the first without Carell was truly awful). In fact, I cheered when DeAngelo Vickers hurt himself. 

Here's what some of the critics thought of Ferrell's first outing in The Office -

I thought it was a fitting end to Michael Scott's time at in The Office, but could they have ended it some other way?

I think so.

Check out my piece at for some ideas - 

What do you think? How would you have ended Michael Scotts' time on the show?

Should he be with Holly or Dwight? Well, the man love has always been there.

Could Jan have come back on the scene, baby in tow, saying its Michael's?

The importance of hanging onto your copyright

Recently, I received a contract from one of my existing book publishers. They wanted me to update my book with them and I thought,’ great, that’ll get it out to a whole new audience.’ 

Yes, the book is still in print, but when I wrote it back in 2004, social networking meant your flesh and blood friends, and not those you met over the internet on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

When I got the contract, buried amongst all those clauses you need a lawyer to decipher, was one that gave the publisher full copyright of my work.

As am author, you should NEVER give away full copyright unless you are being paid a very good, upfront fee that makes your hard work worthwhile. This may happen if you are commissioned to write a book by a publisher who has a book in mind that they want you to write. 

Why shouldn't you make money from your own work?

My other advice about contracts would be –

1-If you live in the UK, join the Society of Authors. If you live elsewhere in the world, try and find out if there is a similar organisation for writers/authors.  Once you join the SOA, they will go through all your contracts with you by email or post.  If you have an agent (a good one), you won’t need to do this as they will vet contracts on your behalf.

2-If you don’t understand a phrase, a clause or even a word in a contract, ALWAYS ask.  Don’t be ashamed that you don’t know. You’re not a lawyer (hey, if only, they earn lots), you’re a writer.

3-Make sure you keep your Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society cash. Publishers are trying to make a grab for half that cash.  It’s yours.  Don’t let them.

If you haven’t joined the ALCS, here’s a link to their website -
What you have to do is register with them and then register all your books.  One a year, usually in February, if anyone has photocopied from your book in a publics library or somewhere else, you will get money.

4-Register your books with the Public Lending Right (sorry, it’s UK only).  You can check out the PLR here -
With this scheme, you register the books you wrote and you get paid every time someone takes it out of the library. Unless you are very popular, don’t expect too much cash. 
They have some interesting information on the site, including details of the most borrowed books in Britain. 
Note, sadly the current UK government in their wisdom have decided that the PLR body will be abolished and ‘the statutory responsibility for administering the PLR Scheme will be transferred to another existing publicly-funded body.’ – Source, the PLR website. 

You can read more about the PLR here -

DI Duncan Waddell - Detective in a Coma Book 2

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