Unashamed geekery!

My son went up to The Strand in London for a signing session with Tom Baker yesterday. I jokingly told him to say hello for me as Doctor Who had been such a large part of my childhood. He came back with the nice glossy photo below with an inscription from the man himself – who my son assures me is as friendly and eccentric as his onscreen persona.


It now has pride of place above my desk.


Almost there…

It’s been a few months since the editing was completed on my novel and I’ve been anxious to find out what progress has been made. This morning I received an email from my editor to say that it’s nearly through the beta reading process. It’s a big relief if only because I now have something new to say when people ask ‘What’s happening with your book?’

Things have become so bad recently that I actually thought about having cheap business cards printed saying simply ‘DON’T ASK ABOUT THE BOOK!’.

I’m being very ungrateful of course and there’s no real excuse for that: friends and family just take a natural interest in how things are progressing. It’s just that I’ve felt like a broken record recently whenever I’ve been asked for an update.


In the Flesh

Just when I think that we are running out of new twists on the dystopian/zombie trope, the BBC has surprised me with its new series, In the Flesh, which started last night.

The world has been through an – as yet unexplained – zombie uprising. And, we follow Kieran, a young man who fell victim to the plague but is now part of a government rehabilitation programme. Erstwhile zombies who have been chemically rescued are now labelled as sufferers of Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS). While retaining their undead pallor and corpse-like eyes, they have their brain functions returned to them. To augment this return to normality, they are given make-up and contact lenses in order to appear more normal. Kieran is returned to his anxious family but must contend with a hostile neighbourhood unhappy at the prospect of the undead back in their midst and with his own guilt as he has flashbacks of what he did in his zombie form.

Of course, George Romero toyed with the idea of reformed zombies in Day of the Dead (anyone remember Bub!). More recently, the Governor in The Walking Dead had similar ideas when trying to find a cure for his daughter. But In the Flesh has taken the notion several steps further. While there are angry members of the Human Volunteer Force patrolling the town to seek out reformed undead, there are hints during the episode that there is also an underground (no pun intended), movement of PDS victims with their own agenda.

If you’re in the UK, the first episode is available on the Beeb’s iPlayer.

Writing articles…

While waiting for my book to get through the beta reading stage I’ve been working on another manuscript. I’m hoping to get to the point of having it sufficiently polished that I can wave it under the nose of some agents to see if I can garner any interest. I’ve lived with the thing for so long though that I decided to take a little break and do something else.

In searching out a way to get some articles published, I came across a few web sites that offer to pay for submissions – mainly via Google Adsense and pay-per-click schemes. I thought I’d try one out to see if it was worthwhile, though I didn’t expect to make a fortune at it. I just assumed that it would be like blogging but with a bit of quality control and a higher rate of exposure. I ended up signing on with Triond.com a few weeks ago, but didn’t get around to writing anything until recently. The idea seemed to be that they would place articles into different websites, thus increasing your writing profile and, being a budding author, I figured that this might not be a bad thing.

To say that the whole process has been a disappointment is a big understatement. I didn’t think that I’d make the comments section of The Guardian or anything like that, but what instead happens is that your posts are fed into the system and then spat out into sites that you’ve never heard of (and that nobody seems to visit!). The sites are part of one big ecosystem of pages that Triond runs and as an author, the only way to increase hits (and thus income) is to befriend as many people in the system as possible to click on your links and to hit your ‘like’ buttons. It’s a reciprocal thing – what someone less kind might call one big electronic circle jerk.

On top of this realisation, the main admin site is terribly slow to load, corrections take hours and the formatting on the pages that you produce often contain strange indents and spacing. There seems to be no quality control whatsoever, with nearly everything that I wrote going live within minutes of submission. I’m pretty careful with my proofing, but the few typos that did slip by went unnoticed until I corrected them myself. I wrote seven articles in total, but the experience was so dire that I’ve not even bothered to link them back here.

There are a few sites that offer similar ways to get your articles published, but from what I can see, they are all pretty much the same. They are nothing to do with promoting quality writing, they are about generating revenue from clicks and ad placements. In fact, surfing with Adblock switched on, I didn’t realise how many ads that they’d managed to shoe-horn into what I’d written. What looked OK if not particularly professional before suddenly looked like one of those poor quality search results that Google is always trying to eliminate from its search queries.

Perhaps I was a little naive in signing up to the site, but at least it didn’t cost anything but a little time in writing the articles, but I thought I’d share my experience here for anyone who might be considering doing the same thing. If you’ve got the time to write every day, to whore yourself out to fake friends and to constantly try to link everything back to all your other articles, then you can probably make some decent pocket-money.

You will not, however, expose your writing to a wider audience of appreciative readers. If anything, you may even damage whatever reputation you might already have.

The Frankenstein Theory

It looks like there is a new twist on the Frankenstein story making its way to cinemas:

It could be interesting, but I’m utterly tired of the ‘found footage’ trope used in so many horror films now. Perhaps its a budgetary thing and a way to disguise low production values?

Anyway, I’ll be happy to eat my words if it turns out to be a corker!