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The view from my office window,
transmitted live via webcam.

 

October 7th

Listening to: Hatful of Hollow by The Smiths; The Fat of the Land by Prodigy; Ether Song by Turin Brakes.

Watching: The X Factor (particularly enjoying the really crap people who think they're great); News 24; nip/tuck; Grand Designs Abroad; my language.

Doing: working; the dinner; sleeping.

How 'bout you?

 

September 24th

I'm currently doing little else other than listening to  Turin Brakes' album Ether Song. There's a lot of influences in there, ranging from Radiohead to Bob Dylan to Marc Bolan, and one track has a particularly frustrating habit of slipping into Knocking on Heaven's Door, which I never liked, but it's great stuff. Check 'em out.

 

September 9th

Huge congratulations go to good friend John Meaney, who has just sold three novels to new US SF imprint Pyr.

 

September 7th

If you're planning on going to Interaction in Glasgow in August 2005, you can now reserve your accommodation here

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September 3rd

I've added a new page that contains the text from a Word file I found on my computer when sifting through old files the other day. It's my old submissions log, which I used years ago to track where I'd sent stories, when, and what happened to them. Click this if you want to take a look. 

If you find your web browsing is very slow and problematic, try installing the Firefox browser. I have to say it's a revelation to me, being much quicker at loading web pages than the notoriously bloaty Internet Explorer. Plus you get a cool icon featuring a fox. Surprise, surprise. Go on, try it.

And if you're bored of the way Windows looks on your PC, you should try "skinning". Tons of gorgeous skins, wallpapers and icons are available here. I'm currently using the Alienware theme produced by The Skins Factory. To see a preview of this theme, stroke your mouse now, or alternatively, find out more about it here.

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September 1st

Hello there. Well, it's bloomin' September already, innit! Well blow me down. That's just four months or so till Christmas. Can you believe it? No, me neither.

So what have I been doing? Well, apart from watching the Olympic Games, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I went through the proofs for The Destiny Mask and have just finished dealing with the proofreader's queries. All great fun. Honest. Seriously, though, my favourite bits of the publication process are going through the copy-edited MS and then going through the proofs. This is because it's all done on paper, which makes a pleasant change from staring at the screen, and it actually reaffirms the fact that it's all really happening.

Last night I took Daniel to see Spiderman2 at the cinema. I have to say it's a great film, far better than the first, and gets my recommendation. Not that that's worth anything, I guess. (I should point out that we didn't let Daniel see the first one as it was just too violent the second film is fine.) The trailer for the first Spiderman movie is well worth watching, though. There was also a trailer for Jude Law's new movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which looks fantastic. Well, I think so. Rosaleen thinks so, too. Not because she was impressed with the trailer (she wasn't there) just because Jude Law's in it. Ahem.

Anyway, that's all for now because I can't think of anything else (although I'm sure there was something). Check back soon for more blog updates, when my memory returns...

M

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August 10th

Page proofs of The Destiny Mask have arrived this morning, and look good.

This novel's taken five years to get to this stage. The Affinity Trap took a total of 10 years, in its various incarnations (although it was at least five different books along the way). I'm now faced with producing book three The Liberty Gun in 12 months. Crikey.

Anyway, I've begun re-plotting it (due to the extensive changes I made to The Destiny Mask the previous plot became redundant) by making notes on a piece of A3 paper, attaching photos, that kind of thing. I'll keep you posted regarding progress.

Bye for now.

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August 9th

Hey, pop kids. I hope you had as good a weekend as we did. The highlight was our visit on Friday to The National Space Centre, which is near, um, Leicester. Yes, Leicester. Home to crisps, Gary Lineaker and, apparently, rockets galore. It was a great day and we all really enjoyed it, looking at all the exhibits, pushing lots of buttons and visiting the planetarium, where we experienced a three-dimensional history of Mars.

One of the most striking things about the place was the Soviet Vostok capsule on display: it's a tiny thing for anyone to spend any amount of time in, particularly cruising around the Earth at 25,000 mph. Not sure if I could do it.

Take my advice, though: if you do decide to pay the centre a visit, take a packed lunch: the food there is both bloody awful and incredibly expensive.

That evening we watched Nadia win Big Brother, and immediately wondered why we'd spent 10 weeks watching it. If you know the answer to this, please share it with me.

The rest of the weekend was spent sweating, erecting shelves for the garage, sweating, barbequing some chicken, sweating, and swimming.

One final thing: if I don't know you and you decide to send me an e-mail for any reason, please make sure the subject line's relevant, and do not send any attachments. Otherwise I'll probably just delete it, and you wouldn't want that, now, would you.

Would you?

TTFN.

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August 3rd part two

Publication of the mass market paperback of The Affinity Trap has been confirmed as scheduled for March 2005, followed by publication of The Destiny Mask in April.

August 3rd

Hi guys and gals. I think I've finished giving the site a makeover now. Whaddya think? Personally I think it's much more cohesive: I was never a fan of a black index page followed by pages in light grey.  I was frustrated to have to get rid of the animated GIFs, but they had to go, I'm afraid. The new look's kind of dark, sleek and stylish, isn't it? A bit like myself. OK, maybe only the dark part's relevant there, but a chap can dream, can't he?

If you find any errors or if there are any images missing please let me know. I've tried to check everything but sometimes links can point to the hard drive on the local computer rather than the web server, so I see the image or whatever because it's on my machine, but no one else will.

I hope to add further content soon particularly some images from the Birmingham lunch party we threw for The Affinity Trap but I'm close to my webspace limit, so something may have to go first. (I also have to get around to working out how to get the images off the camcorder...) We'll see.

The BSFA's Matrix arrived yesterday, absolutely dripping in Sketchleyana. My name's on the cover, there's a feature interview inside called New Blood "a series of articles featuring the best new novelists in British SF" and there's also my own double-page feature interview with TTA Press editor Andy Cox. What's more, I'm rubbing shoulders with people such as Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Stephen Baxter and Ian Watson. Crikey, it's enough to make yer head spin, so it is. Let's hope I can cut the mustard, eh?

Anyway, I better get on. I rather like the idea of updating this thing more frequently, so pop back soon and which keys I've hit. 

Cheerio.

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August 2nd

Hey, pop kids, here's a bonus blog entry! As you've probably noticed, I've tweaked the site's appearance somewhat. If you should come across any links that don't work as a result of my mucking about, or if anything else unexpected happens (involving the site, rather than your life in general...) please do let me know via the usual method

Ta.

Oh, one other thing: in an effort to be tremendously helpful, you can now check whether the blog's been updated since your last visit by resting your cursor over the blog button on the psychobbable page. (Although this does rather assume you know when you last visited... Oh well.)

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30th July, 2004

Hello. Sorry for failing to update the blob (yes, mistyped that but it's funny so I think I'll leave it...) last week. Not very impressive, I know. I bet you were thinking something along the lines of "That didn't last long, did it?". 

You weren't bothered? Didn't miss it? Oh. 

Well, the fact is we were on holiday, and I didn't particularly want to broadcast via the Internet the fact that the house would be empty for a week. We stayed at Allender Farm, near Woolacombe in North Devon. The farm is a great place to go, especially if you've got young kids. There are lambs, ducks and hens to feed twice a day, eggs to collect, guinea pigs to chase, and all kinds of other fun. This might sound like hard work, but parents don't have to get involved, although I rather enjoyed cleaning out the duck house every morning. Rosaleen was less enthusiastic about the guinea pigs, but stuck at it nonetheless. She was mortified when our son dropped one of the little blighters, which promptly ran under the duck house. While the farm's only a few minutes' drive from Woolacombe's lovely beach, it's set in the countryside so is also a very quiet retreat. Apart from the lambs, the geese and the ducks, of course. Oh, and the cockerels.

While we were in the area we paid another visit to Broomhill Sculpture Gardens. This wonderful place features all kinds of pieces in a wide range of styles, and we spent a couple of hours wandering around in the rain there. I used a roll of film taking photographs of many of the sculptures. Most of these were just close ups of textures or silhouettes, as a great many of the pieces in the garden are highly evocative and inspirational. Last time we were there a couple of years ago I was constantly scribbling in my notebook, and I know that some of this stuff ended up in The Destiny Mask. I could tell you about the incident involving our 4-year-old daughter in the gallery, but it's a long story. Let's just say we're now referring to it as the day she dropped, and caught, the 3,000 statuette. Best leave the rest to your imagination. Next time we're going to take her to the crystal factory...

Speaking of The Destiny Mask, I've received the cover and the blurb's been finalised, but you may have seen that already. The artwork by Larry Rostant is wonderful, and exactly what I've always had in mind. for the book. I thought the cover for The Affinity Trap was striking, but this is even more so.

I'm now thinking about book three The Liberty Gun in earnest (honest), and will really get to work on it just as soon as Big Brother's finished. In the meantime, I've started working on the next article for BSFA publication Matrix, which will be an interview with former Interzone contributor Paul Brazier, who's producing a new SF fiction website called Quercus.

I think that's about all. As ever, if you want to get in touch for any reason, send me an e-mail.

See you next time, pop kids.

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9th July, 2004

Hi there. What have I been up to since the last blog? I enjoyed a great meal with Ian R Macleod at the Al Frash balti restaurant in Sparkbrook. I had a delicious starter of Tandoori King Prawn (I think Ian had chicken), while for the main course we both had something I can't remember the name of, but which was basically a shredded chicken and king prawn balti. Yum. I'm not sure whether we cheered each other up during our discussion of what it's like being authors, etc, but it was a wonderful meal and great to talk to someone who's on the same wavelength as myself. We're with the same agency, and are both published by Simon & Schuster, so we have a lot in common. Ian's recent novel The Light Ages  has been widely acclaimed, with the mass market paperback edition in stores now.

I'm still watching Big Brother. (Due to the amount of work I have on at the moment I'm only watching Big Brother.) Who do I think will win? I don't know, but then as we all know, it's not the winning that's important, especially not in this game. Personally I don't care who wins, I just wish Stu would tell Michelle to get off his bleeding back. Who goes? I wish she would.

Oh, yes, do you like the sparkling neon jpeg at the top of the page? I thought this page needed a little more glamour and thought this would do the trick. It was generated here. I've also re-skinned my copy of Windows XP with the "opulence" skin, downloaded from XP Themes, and got a nice icon package to go with it. Also on the computer front, I bought a CD writer with a PC World voucher I had left over from my last birthday to enable me to back up my stuff more easily. This follows a recent PC failure when I almost lost all my work and other Very Important Files. 

Luckily The Destiny Mask was not on that computer (well, this computer to be accurate), but as well as meaning I lost a week's work while I tried to get the thing fixed, it highlighted to me the importance of making regular back-ups of everything. I've been in the habit of making two copies of my fiction for a long time, but I hadn't quite realised how much other stuff I'd be gutted at losing given a computer-related disaster. If you also have a lot of Very Important Files, I can only suggest you invest in a CD writer yourself. The Philips unit I got was only 30....

Next week I'm taking my Jeep to Mick to have its oil changed and have some grease put wherever grease needs putting. Its been squeaking somewhat of late, so Mick's going to investigate. Hopefully, as with other things, a little bit of lubrication will make it sweet again.

On the writing front, The Destiny Mask came back from S&S having been copy edited. I'm going through this now as it needs to be back with the publisher by the 17th, and will go to production shortly after that. Time is pressing, especially as this is basically it: once this version's gone back it goes to the typesetters, after which proofs will be produced and further changes won't be possible. Cripes! 

Most importantly of all, however, tomorrow is Daniel's seventh birthday. He's got all the presents a seven-year-old could wish for, including Spiderman stuff, football stuff and GameBoy stuff. We're going to go to the cinema to see Shrek 2 on Saturday afternoon, then there's a football party on Sunday for him and his mates.

I think that's it for this time. Don't forget, if you want to get in touch for any reason, just send me an e-mail.

TTFN.

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26th June, 2004

I've been encouraged to produce a "blog". This is short for "weblog", which is only two characters longer. This is either incredibly efficient or irritatingly lazy, I'm not sure which. When I start "blogging" mobile phone-style c u l8r, etc, then I guess you should start to worry. The intention is to update the blog bi-weekly (that's every two weeks, pop kids), but this page is, well, in place for a probationary period. If I decide I don't like it or can't find the time to update it regularly, it'll be unceremoniously disposed of. So there. There may be some crossover with the news page, but that will remain extremely brief headlines, if you like. Greater depth will be found here in the blog. New blogs will appear at the top of this page as they are introduced, thereby avoiding the tiresome chore of having to scroll down. I know how you all hate that.

So, to blog. What have I been doing lately? Having submitted the text for THE DESTINY MASK to Simon & Schuster a few weeks ago, I've been taking it slightly easier. Well, that means I've been editing rather than writing, as the tax man wants his money at the end of July, so one has to get one's shit together, so to speak. However, I've also started churning ideas over in my mind about what's going to happen in book three The Liberty Gun. There are lots of possibilities, so that might take some time. If you have any ideas, send them to me!

I've not been reading as much as I should. I started one or two books but didn't finish them. I keep meaning to start Ian McLeod's THE LIGHT AGES, as I'm having a curry with him on Tuesday, but I haven't got around to it yet. TV-wise I've been watching Big Brother I make no apologies for this but have to admit I've become somewhat bored of it now. Just as well really, because I need to go through The Destiny Mask again before it comes back from the copy-editor, who will no doubt have ripped it to pieces. 

I'm listening to re-foc by Rodrigo y Gabriela, which is sort of latin/flamenco guitar virtuoso stuff. I heard them when I went to see Will Young with Rosaleen; he wasn't too hot but Rodrigo and Gabriela were great, so I bought their CD. I was listening to the debut album by Franz Ferdinand, but they seem to play the same track repeatedly and I got bored of it.

I've added lots of new photos to the site here, and a couple of review scans here. And remember, if you want to subscribe to the mailing list, express your interest by using the button at the bottom of the news page. If you feel like getting in touch for whatever reason, just send me an e-mail.

That's it for this time, I think.

c u l8r.

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