Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas is defintely upon us!

So it is officially December and this is the first blog post of the month (and one of the last ones for the year :( ) So what has happened since the last one?

Well let's get into that later. Remember the three points I made in the last blog? Lets get back to them.

First off the bat - work. Ironically, after the really bad Thursday I left work to find a text message from my sister telling me that her place was hiring.

"Excellent!" I thought. "Jump on it!" said my brain.

So there I was a week later strolling down unknown roads in Clydebank (without a map I might add! Dumbarton is bad enough and I've lived here for years!) looking for a building I'd never seen (and as it transpired, doesn't believe in signposts or even signage - totally blank storefront!).

By sheer dumb luck I found the place (dumb luck being a well timed glance at Google maps) and proceeded to sit down for the most casual interview I have ever been through. It was done in front of the other office staff which was new - especially when they started laughing at my answers (yes they were jokes but it was still surreal lol - I had no idea how many people were interviewing me :S)

Despite the casual setting, the interview went pretty well. They advised me to expect a phonecall and I left, turning right, then left again before finally digging out my phone to find out where Singer train station was. My sister phoned later to say the 'big boss' had asked about me and that they were going to phone me at somepoint.

The following Tuesday I was told I would be offered the job, but I had changed my mind.

It just didn't feel right.

For all work can be stressful - and the pay could be better, they have been good to me this year with all of the surgeries. Apart from that, it's kind of like that pair of jeans you all have. You know the ones! The ones that are ragged around the heel and the colour has all but bled out of them, you would never dream of leaving the house with them - but they are sooooo comfy you just cant throw them out!

That's what my job is like.

Comfy :) . So that being said Im there until I publish 'the next big thing' or become a world class cardiothoracic surgeon, whichever comes first lol!

Secondly - NaNoWriMo. Was just a disaster.

I like the story I developed but It really messed up my other projects and 'umpteen' deadlines were missed because of it. I found myself writing scenes for the screenplay only to have characters from NaNo crop up. That being said the story I've started will be published on one of the sites I write for so that is good news :D, it's great news actually!!!!

Thirdly - That dating site thing.

This was kind of surreal. I tried to approach the whole thing with an open mind, I really did! But it was just soooooo hard when every person that contacted me seemed to be campaigning for the mentally insane:

Firstly, I dont know what "Awww man gein it yaldie at the wknd with sum mad dawg and ma chums wae the tunes bangin'! Yolo Biatch! MadWaeIt 2k12 FTW!" means.

Dont get me wrong. I can translate it. I just dont know what Im meant to do with the translated information.

Secondly, "I dont like movies or current music, prefer not to listen to older stuff either. I dont like dogs or cats and hate horses. I despise the cold and cant stand it when the sun is blinding my eyes. I hate travelling to new places and new food makes me feel sick..." you get the picture.

The best thing about the second message, the one with the list of dislikes was right at the end where the person actually wrote "You sound interesting, If you like what you see...get in touch"

 ...so if i like someone who doesnt like anything...?

Account deleted.

So that was what? 10 days?

Then I got a FB message that I didnt expect or plan for.

I had PM'd a girl a few months back that I had read about in the local paper. She had been nominated as a regional finalist for an inspirational person award and the article really did inspire me. She seemed like an incredible person. Now at the time the Glasgow Writer's Group was putting together a collection of short stories based on medical conditions and disabilities and I had submitted a piece.

In my PM I had suggested that this person had such an amazing story to tell that she should consider submitting for the anthology. I didn't get a reply and to be honest didnt think too much about it.

Then out of nowhere at the end of November I got a message from her asking about my condition (which I had described briefly in the original message.) Before I knew it we were chatting about holidays, hobbies, dreams and aspirations and everything in between.

Despite me sending several embarassing autocorrect messages (one where it changed PMA - Positive Mental Attitude, to PMT - well you all know what that is!) things were going well.  I really liked this girl and with my heart hammering in my chest I asked her if she'd like to go out sometime. She said yes.

And we met up for a casual drive around Dumbarton (did you know Dumbarton has a fire station in Dumbarton East? No? Me neither.).

She is every bit as funny, intelligent, inspiring and beautiful as I thought she would be. More so! My jaw was actually sore from laughing with the amount of funny stories she has to tell (one where she managed to put a patients bra on backwards!?!? :P)

And things are still going well on that front :) - better than well, I really like this girl!

And that is you all pretty much up to date with whats happening.

With Christmas round the corner I am taking it easy on the writing front - Im sure "Write more" will appear on my list of new years resolutions but I think I will focus the first few months on polishing finished pieces and actually making sure they are submitted by deadlines (as opposed to spending four months on the Aeon One submission only to realise id missed the due date by three days!!!)

I have a couple of MtG events scheduled in for January. One in Liverpool on the 5th and one in Milton Keynes on the 20th. Probably end up running Pyro or Tron for either of these but also have a Naya deck list im forming in my head.

We shall see.

Expect another update before Christmas (still got my Crimbo shopping to do!) but incase you miss it! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Dare to Dream,

SBP






Monday, 19 November 2012

What would you do?

Hello hello!

Man has this year been a fast one! It's actually November, people are actually saying the C word and I realise that I may actually need to start thinking about it sooner rather than later :S

Not that I'm complaining, it is definitely my favourite time of year. Maybe it's just the hype but doesn't everyone seem a little bit happier in December? Unless of course you're that one parent that hasn't picked up a Buzz Lightyear (or whatever the flavour of the year is), you do not look happy! But in general, people smile more :)

I'll be honest I tend to over do it at Christmas. I spend more money than is sensible on gifts, I play the Crimbo albums on repeat and I definitely make merry with the merriment on Christmas Eve :P . And I love every minute of it! Make memories not money, the first one will make you smile when the other one is gone and spent.

Now before we get to the "What would you do?" in the heading, let's talk about some changes since my last update.

1) I am actively looking for another job (as opposed to half-hearttedly going to work hoping something will land in my lap) The current job is fine, it's just...different since being back at it post-op. It seems like the work load is 100x more and the money hasn't upped with the expectations. And apart from that, I'm just not happy there anymore.

If I'm going to spend the bulk of my life in a job then you can be sure I'm going to make sure it's something I enjoy doing. I get that we all have bills to pay and having a job is pretty much a necessity - but if you're not happy there then I personally guarantee you, you could be doing something else, getting paid the same and be a WHOLE lot happier. It's never too late to make a change.

2) My writing has been side-swiped by NaNoWriMo.

For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo stands for 'National Novel Writing Month' and it runs in November every year. The aim is to write one complete and finished 50k manuscript in the month of November - take it from me. This. Is. Not. Easy.

I wasn't going to bother this year round but woke up after an obscure dream (as oft happens) and couldn't shake the idea I had for a novel.

The screenplay and the other projects are officially on hold until December!

3) I have *cough* joined a dating site...there "I said it!"

Not entirely sure what I'm expecting from it but I met a couple when I was at the PTQ in Dundee (which you can read about on manaleak.com) who were awesome together. I got talking to them and it turned out they met on POF.com and armed with that success story I opted to give it a go.

I like the way the site is setup so you can filter out the people looking for 'casual encounters' and the nutters as I'd like to stay away from the 'naughty pond'. That place seems like it'd be full of bad memories and I really don't need to add to my already impressive collection of *cringe* moments.

I'm in two minds about what I think about the whole 'dating site' concept. Anyone who knows me will testify to the fact that I am A) One heck of a talker + B) A flirt.

That being said I just don't think I'll meet the type of girl I'm looking for in a nightclub or pub. No harm in giving this site a go!

NOW!

On to the serious stuff! "What would you do?"

I know this isn't in the usual "funny/self-humiliating" style of my blog - but something happened on Friday night I can't not talk about.

I was playing MtG in Queen's Park at  the shop as I often do. I step outside for a bit of fresh air and get talking to a girl at the bus stop (she is presumably, waiting on a bus). Blethering away quite the thing about nothing inparticulair and a car screeches to a halt in front of us and out jump four guys shouting in some foreign language at the confused and somewhat terrified looking girl.

Now for all I am a confident individual - and consider myself pretty well prepared for most situations, this one threw me. I stepped in front of the girl (who at this point is talking back a bit sheepishly in this other language) and then both she and one of the guys point at me. Do I run? Stay?

Before the flight or fight response kicked in the guy says to me in perfect English (kids, cover your ears)

"Fuck off! She belongs to the family, she doesn't talk to non-muslims so beat it boy!"

Now apart from the fact this guy was ages with me and I really have an issue with anyone who isn't 60+ calling me boy - does anyone else see a problem with the above statement?

I certainly did.

At this point the girl is being not quite pulled, but certainly encouraged towards the car. I still have no idea what's going on so I kick off and do a bit of shouting myself, attracting the attention of some of the guys  nearby.

The guy that called me 'boy' stops and turns around a little bit calmer noe he's got an audience.

"Look mate it's nothing personal - this is my sister, she's not allowed to speak to non-muslims, just let it go."

Sorry. Not sold on that tune mate.

So I ask the girl if this is her brother and does she want to get in the car with him. At this point she looks a lot less scared and a lot more embarassed than she did originally and I kind of see the family resemblance BUT, and this is the thing that really gets me...

She looks at her brother first before answering the question, and he nods. The girl then tells me that this is her brother and that the other guys are her cousins. It turns out she is waiting on a lift from him and pretty much re-iterates his words.

"It's nothing personal - it's just our culture..."

(kids, cover your ears!)

Bullshit. It's not culture. It's sexism verging on slavery.

Now please don't get the wrong idea. I am not criticising Muslim culture - I judge every single person I meet on their own merits and I will never have a go at someone because of their creed, colour or race. But I cannot accept that a man can have a daughter and treat her like property to be traded. I've served on ships with multi-cultural crews coming from all walks of life and all types of religion, I like being exposed to new cultures and new ideas - it makes me a smarter man, but Friday night...

It just doesn't add up, at least to me. When did we regress to the stone ages?

So back to the question : "What would you do?" - What lengths do you go to for the sake of a stranger?

The girl got in the car with her brother, her cousins walked away and I went back in to finish my game of cards. But the whole thing has been bugging me all weekend.

To whomever finds themselves reading this, these next words are aimed directly at YOU!

You are an individual. Your own person with your own thoughts, feelings and desires. You are not  defined by the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the music you party to or the house you pray in. Don't let anyone pressure you into making choices you don't want to make or do things you don't believe in.

If you want to sing into your hairbrush in front of the mirror, rock on! If you want to dance like no one's watching while your waiting on a train, awesome! I saulte you! And if you want to go against the grain of everything you've been brought up to believe, then you are one of the most incredible people on the earth, and you have my utmost respect. I didn't say being you was going to be easy - but being a 100%, pure gold, star-spangled first rate version of yourself is much better than being a two bit carbon copy of what someone else thinks you should be.

Don't conform to their norm, what is normality anyway?


Being preachy isn't my style, but neither is being a bystander when I see something I don't agree with. I hope I got my point across.

Anyways, my rant is now officially over! Stay tuned for more updates! Hopefully there aren't too many 'dating site' related embarassing bits!

Dare to Dream folks,

Live your life!

Comment below.

-SBP-

Sunday, 4 November 2012

WHAM!

Don't panic. I'm not going to start talking about 'Wake me up before you go go' (Although now ive mentioned it I am going to look it up on YouTube, what a song!)

You know how I can tell something major is going to happen on any given day? It starts like every other one. Every morning I wake up and think about the day to day routine, cause that's what it is, a routine. Monday to Friday is the worst.

Wake up
Make coffee
Get in car
Go to work
Finish work
Get in car
Go home
Have dinner
Bed

My weekday in nine easy to follow steps, how boring! Well after last Friday you can give me that boring list ANY day of the week!

Friday started off like any other day, right up until the "Go to work" bit. There we were, just passing the aquaduct at the airport, idly chatting, listening to Chris Evans and 'The Candyman' for what must be the millionth time. The traffic in front stopped, we stopped...the car behind didn't.

WHAM!

Now I can only imagine, and certainly hope, that most of you don't know what it's like to get hit by another car travelling at speed. Well let me tell you, the coffee goes EVERYWHERE! Some people say the sound is like a gun going off, well, that's an understatement. It sounded like a cannon was fired a metre and a half behind me!

The force threw us (and the coffee) forward and the recoil tossed us back. There was a moment of silence as the contents of my flask dripped down the windshield before my head started pounding.

A moment or two, or maybe ten minutes later. Im not sure. Either way we found ourselves pulled in in the left hand lane staring at the offending Audi that had hit the Ka, no prizes for guessing who came off worst.

There I was trying to decide whether I was going to be angry or relieved when this tall, blonde, Drop. Dead. Gorgeous, women steps out of the car. I like to think it was because of the adrenaline I was speechless, in honesty though I think it was the green tights and light blue dress. The woman could easily have been going to audition as one of Santa's little helpers (despite being over 6ft tall). Details were exchanged, liability decided, and off we went.

Surprisingly, we laughed our asses off the rest of the ten minute drive in to work. Seriously, hysterical laughter resounded around the car. It's funny what adrenaline does to you.

The day dragged on and the headache came back, along with a really sore neck and shoulder. The car has been/will be written off as the entire base beneath the boot has been warped and a trip to the hospital confirmed that both driver and me sustained whiplash. Why do I ask for excitement? Why did I want to break away from the norm? Give me a bog standard boring working day!

Phew. So anyway, that's the drama out of the way.

It has made me think about things over the weekend. I don't want to sound melodramatic, we are both absolutely fine (except the sore necks, which should pass). But thinking about how things could have been makes me queasy.

Firstly, If I hadn't been wearing a seatbelt I know for a fact my face would have went through the dashboard. And as nice a dashboard as it is, I have no desire to make it's acquaintance on a permanent basis. Seatbelts save lives. You know when your younger and your mother insists she wont drive until you buckle up? Dont be a dick. Buckle up!

Secondly, what if she had damaged the petrol tank? Now most explosions (at least in the movies) happen in frontal collisions, but surely taking a 'dunt' in the petrol tank cant be clever? It's been a while since I was in school but im sure the fire triangle is still the same. Oxygen *sniff* check! Fuel, in a petrol tank? Ignition, metal on metal, chance of sparks? We could have blown up in the middle of the motorway! Thankfully most of the damage was to the rear left side of the car, and the fuel tank is on the rear right, but it could have been very different.

Thirdly, what if my bloody coffee had been hot? I'd have looked a right prat! I can see the headlines now "Man sustains third degree burns in non-burning vehicle!"

Thankfully none of the three happened, but it could have, which is scary. It could also have messed up the whole operation (which for those who dont know, was quite a big deal!). I dont think it has at this stage, but my shoulder is still pretty delicate and thats where the muscle came from. We can only see. all still breathing though so thats a good thing!

I am getting back into the swing of things in the office. Despite the monotony my days are quite productive. I have been doing a lot more writing, working on old projects and scribbling down new.

Ive also started looking into how I can turn Magic The Gathering into a profitable arrangement. Ive set up shop on Ebay, contacted distributors to enquire about prices for wholesale and am seriously considering diving into this as a business.

In other MtG news, Im playing in the Dundee PTQ next weekend (which is a big deal, take my word for it!) so for those who are interested, keep an eye on ManaLeak.com for the article that will follow (hopefully talking about how I won, if not it will be talking about how I 'almost won' and the injustice of life :P)

Peace out,

Dare to Dream,

Wear your bloomin' seatbelt!

SBPhoenix

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Finally...

Life has gotten back to some form of normality. Whatever that is.

I'm now into my second week back at the office and I am loathed to admit (and somewhat confused by the fact) that I am actually enjoying being back! There is only so much Jeremy Kyle one man can take and suffice to say in my eight week house bound lock down I have had more than my fair share!

It's funny how he inspiration to write returned right about the same time I ended up going back to work. Maybe its the plain yet elegeant decor that stimulates the creative juices, or perhaps it's the rhythmic clicking of the keyboard and the relaxing ring of the phone that inspires inspiration. Or maybe it's that I really, REALLY want to be somewhere else.

Not that it's a bad job. It's actually a pretty good one. 9-5 Monday to Friday. Every weekend off. Decent salary, hell I have nothing to complain about. It wasn;t that long ago I lost a job and had the cruel sting of unemployment nipping at my heels. I remember the relief I felt at just having any job. In the current climate I should definitely not complain about being employed...

But I'm bored.

The job has become, predictable, despite the fact it's ever changing. Each day, more or less, follows the pattern of the last. It was only after going back post-op that I realised how much of a routine I was in. And I am not a man for routines. I like spontaneuity. One of my favourite quotes is:

"Take chances, live for risks, and follow your heart until it finds release. Your dreams know no boundaries, they only lack belief!"

Yet I must have been stagnating because for the past twelve months I have taken no chances and unless you call my epic flirting fails on the train 'risks' then I really haven't embraced that mantra.

That is all going to change. Has changed.

I am pleased (hell who am I kidding, I'm supercalifrajilistickly elated) to announce that one of my short stories has been published by the wonderful PureSlush.com and is available for purchase here! The Editor Matt Potter is a gem. I have never come across an individual who is so prepared to help writers with their manuscripts and submissions. "First class nice guy, without the wank."

Not only that, but Im featured in there with some of my favourite (and most talented) writing buddies! Gill Hoffs and Joanna Delooze!

So I am pretty over the moon about that! BUT! That's not all!

Many of you will know (and many more will not) that I am an ardent Magic the Gathering player. I love it, always have. Many moons ago when I was in high school (nearly ten years now...) I would travel up to Arena games every weekend and pit my deck of mythical creatures and spells against someone elses, usually I would get beat, pretty badly. But I enjoyed it anyway.

I mentioned in my previous post that I had got back into it, in a big way. I spent alot of my time off catching up on the development and changes that have happened in the game and have been drafting at Glasgow's new shop Spellbound Games for the last six weeks.

So how does this relate to writing? Well, I write about Magic the Gathering obviously.

After talking to different people about the game and strategies etc I came across Manaleak.com, the biggest MtG website in the UK. I made some e-mail enquiries and am now a featured writer on the site!

First article went live on Thursday, you can view it here! Magic the Gathering

The last month has certainly seen a bit of progress on the writing front. Still waiting to hear back about the Empire submission. Had one request for the full manuscript and two rejections so far so that is a pretty fair ratio. Heres hoping I get two more requests to see the full thing and then get it signed off on!

I've also set up a YouTube account where I upload videos of Magic the Gathering Online. Search SBPhoenix channel on YouTube for those interested in learning a bit about the game and for all those others who just miss the sound of my voice :P

Right anyways, consider yourself up to date! Tomorrow I have an article to finish off and some more MtG practice before the pro tour qualifier in Dundee on the 10th...I also need to think of some witty one liners to try on the new girl at work ;)

Dare to Dream folks!

Life is out there, go get it!

SBP

Thursday, 27 September 2012

What's happening!

What's happening folks?

...no seriously, what is happening? I need to know. I've been house bound for close to five weeks and am beginning to feel the subtle effects of cabin fever setting in. Bedroom fever would be more appropriate as I have pretty much lived in my bedroom for a month (and not in the good way)

My arm is now back to semi-functionality. By that I mean I can straighten it, comfortably lift a paperback book (though a hardcover is pushing it a bit) and just about type at my normal speed as long as the left hand does most of the work.

I guess I should start with a bit about the wound.

It's fine, well fine so far as I/we can gather. The doctors still don't know if it was necrosis or a blood clot but either way it has stopped leaking pussy blood (sexy I know) which I am most relieved about. In terms of how it looks...pretty good considering how it did before, but still aways to go before it matches the other one.

The scars are healing nicely, the one on my chest was brutal initially - it literally looked like I had been cut in half. But it has calmed down substantially and although it's still noticeable, it'll fully heal to be quite a neat scar. I've not been able to get a look at the one under my arm due to the inability to move the shoulder but i'm told it's healing nicely. So that's good.

I was full of good intentions of getting lots of writing done during my recovery but unfortunately it has just not been possible, physically or emotionally. The inability to type at speed was really annoying and then all the drama and the not knowing whether id need another op knocked me for six. Thankfully as stated I am now almost back up to my normal typing speed so hopefully I can get lots done over the coming week before I return to work.

I have done some writing so it hasn't all been wasted. The screenplay, which I've provisionally called 'John Doe' is coming along nicely. Act I is entirely typed and some of the dialogue is great! For those who are interested in writing for the big screen I strongly advise you to buy 'The Foundations of Screenwriting', phenomenal book. I read it in about three days and went through a pack of post-it's which are now protruding from the pages.

Empire II has taken a back step - the story is all mapped out it just needs to be written but to be honest, right now im much more excited about where the screenplay is going.

In none writery news, there is not much to tell unfortunately (being stuck in a house all day every day does nothing for your social life!)

My mother has decided to get a dog, a Maltese pup which I believe is to be called Bayliegh if it's a girl...and Alfalpha if it's a boy, don't ask, i'm not to sure myself.

My days have been pretty much filled with Buffy the Vampire Slayer saving the world, and constant drafting on MtGO.

There is a new set for the game released this weekend. Shoulder dependent I will be making my way up to the shop to play the sealed tournament (which I am quietly confident about, the online events are going really well - I've not had to pay for any for over a fortnight and Ive played in about fifty :P).

Music wise there is nothing to report, I've discovered it's very hard to keep a rhythm without moving your shoulder so I am just not going to bother until i'm back to being fighting fit!

Nearly there! Each day is a step closer to the dream...

Keep smiling!

SBP

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The creative process...

But first an update about the boob.

This week has not been as good as last week was. There is a haematoma in the chest wound which has had to be drained on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This is either a result of a clot that has cleared, or a symptom of necrosis that would suggest the fatty tissue is dying, which, worst case scenario would mean the DIEP procedure was for nothing.

It may be that the necrosis is only on the fringe of the tissue in which case they can cut it off or if it's minor enough my body will absorb. I should find out tomorrow and hopefully get some definitive answers instead of being in limbo which is where I am at the moment.

But this post isn't about the boob, it's about the creative process.

A writing friend asked me the following today and I went a bit OTT on the response and thought that others may find the information useful so I decided to post it here.

This is what I was asked:

***

Hey Chris, hope your well - was just wondering,

a. how you went about your reworking of your novel? I've been trawling through mine for months now, i suppose there are no shortcuts?


b. how did you go about sending off the finished one, did you send a cover and 3 chapters to basically a list from the internet? or something more simple?


I remember your novel was a kind of sci fi fantasy wasn't it.


cheers, and hope you get it accepted! My pal suggested that i self publish but id rather go down the old school route first, sounds like your the same.


The following is just about as much information as I can give on how I write and submit my manuscripts:

Evening mate, as well as can be expected tongue

Basically I write it three times (which sounds majorly daunting but it's less and less each time. 


The First Draft 

The first time is basically free association - get it on paper. I work from chapter plans and rough notes and just write, regardless of how bad some of it is at the time, I know there is some good stuff amongst it. This is the part that is fun, let your imagination go wild - be spontaneous, give your characters as much personality and as many quirks as you can.

Once I finish the first draft I leave it for a few days then read it start to finish without taking notes (which is hard at first). This is to try and get a feel for it from a readers perspective and is me focusing more on the story than the quality of the writing. After Ive read it I write down the bits of the story that didnt make sense/add up/get resolved.


The Second Draft

The second draft is where I perfect the story, I dont care about the writing just now - everything I wrote down after reading it gets looked at. If something didnt work for me on the first read through it gets re-worded, trimmed or cut entirely - be brutal. Sometimes at this stage of re-drafting I will get a sudden spurt of inspiration and want to take things in a new direction or add things in. This is great, dont knock it - but put it in a seperate document - if its good enough to go in it can go in after Ive finished editing the original thing.

Once the second draft is complete and the story flows as it should I look at the extra bits I wanted to add and really work out whether or not they can be added in. If they can then I put them in, if they cant they stay in a seperate folder.


The Third Draft

The third draft is where I am concentrating on the writing. I basically do a line edit of every chapter, usually over a couple of weeks and ask myself. "Is that the right word to use there?", "Is the grammar correct?", "Can I make that sentence tighter?" etc etc.

The most important thing on my mind is cutting out things I dont need - I have a bad habit of re-iterating a feeling or emotion in a character more times than I have to. Best advice I can give on self editing is to READ ALOUD! It sounds obscure but it lets you hear exactly how it sounds in your head. Running out of breath? The sentence is too long. Paused when you said that? Needs a comma. Words getting you tongue tied? Stop being clever. (This one is also one of my major downfalls - I seem to do alliteration without thinking about it and it's not until I read it aloud that I realise how ridiculous it actually sounds. Reading aloud also points out where we have words that dont belong)

Once that is all done - I usually have a brandy. I again take a couple of days away from the manuscript and read it again start to finish. I try to do this like I would read someone elses book though this time I sit with a notepad next to me and jot down anything that stops me from reading or makes me read a sentence twice. Hopefully at this stage it isn't often, I tend to find some chapters are worse than others.

One final edit and that is the manuscript DONE!


Finding a Publisher/Agent

Now is the REALLY hard bit. It involves lots of waiting and lots of rejection for reasons you will never know (a bit like my Friday nights but that's going off on a tangent).

The first thing I do is go through the writers and artists handbook and put an * next to publishers and agents that accept the genre I want to submit and also make sure that they take unsolicited manuscripts.

Once I have about 10-15 I look at their websites - if it's not professional looking or sounds a bit dodgy I score it off my list. I find out who submissions get sent to and how they like to receive them. Most people like a cover letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters or 50pp. But not all, give them what they want.

With my first novel I let myself go at this stage and wrote cover letters like I was best friends with these strangers. Surprisingly Blackstone actually asked to see the whole manuscript but they did give me a hard time over the cover letter of all things. You will be judged from the get go on your writing so put the same amount of time and effort into writing the cover letter and the synopsis as you did the novel - you cant have one without the other.

The Submission Package 

There are lots of different 'suggestions' flying around on how to go about writing these documents, all I can tell you is how I write mine.


Submission Letter

Before I write even a chapter plan I write the story in 25 words or less. In a fresh notebook at the top of the page:

"Keiras allies must prepare Kerona to battle the invading Empire while she unlocks the secrets of ancient Draconian artefacts and masters the gift of Power." - 25 on the nose.

I include this line or something very similar to it in my submission letters. It's short & sweet and tells them in a nutshell what they are going to be reading about.

I also include a short bit about my writing background, short stories I've published, comps ive won or been shortlisted for etc. Something that puts a bit of you and your personality into the letter - but don't go overboard.

I also do a bit of homework on the publisher/agent and compare my work to someone they have represented in the past if it is applicable - if it's not don't try to make it so, ask yourself why you are submitting to a publisher/agent who has never represented anyone similar to you before.

I try to keep it short (and usually give it to someone other than myself to proof read). My thought process here is that this will be read by someone who reads all day long - they will be looking to get through a pile ASAP - short and to the point is going to go down much better than them reading a life story.

Synopsis

I seriously struggled with these originally. Basically put in the bare bones of the main plot and any sub-plots that are important to the outcome of the story. No cliff hangers. Period.

Imagine you are in a pub and someone asks you about your book, but they are heading for the door. You have 30 maybe forty seconds to tell them the story start to finish. You mention the main characters and what what their goals are and how they get there. That is exactly what a synopsis is.

I usually aim to do this in less than 300 words - most people want a one page synopsis which is roughly about 500 so it gives you space to play with.

I then give the synopsis to two people and ask them what they think of the idea for the story. If they ask questions about sub plots or character development I tell them, and do nothing.

If they ask questions about the main story, I seriously look at the synopsis and ask myself what has to be added to remove that question from the readers mind. It's all about clarity at this point. I have a limited chance to impress this person - the last thing I want is for them to be confused or asking questions that Im not there to answer..

I them proof the synopsis for spelling/grammar/word choice etc and finally hit save.

I have another brandy - and then bundle it up and send it off.

I usually send them out in sets of five - some publisher stipulate that they don't like this. If that is the case, don't do it.

It's important to bear in mind that I have not had a novel published the 'old fashioned way' (I have self published one of my novels but like you I want it done 'legit') and the only info I can give is how I send my submissions and edit my novel.

That being said, from every set of five submissions I've sent off - someone has always requested the full manuscript - just a case of persevering until they say yes.

Hope that helps,

SBP

***

That response - typed ONE HANDED folks! Oh yes! (Took me ages!)

Hopefully it's useful to some of you out there.

Peace out, Dare to Dream

SBPhoenix

(I'll keep you posted about the boob) ;)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The one about the boobs!!!

Hello folks, I feel as if it has been a long time since I've updated - should have really put up my thoughts pre-hospital but que sera.

Needless to say I am now out and so far, everything is going as planned - I HAVE TWO BOOBS! (Granted one of them is really bruised but it's a boob none the less!)

The operation was bigger than I imagined it would be. Eight and a half hours in surgery, two different procedures performed by two of the UK's (if not the worlds) most gifted surgeons. These men are geniuses. As opposed to getting a silicon implant they actually swung a muscle from my back, under my and along my ribs and layered it  with tissue from my abdomen. This means that I will actually be able to 'workout' my right pec,  which is incredible because a fortnight ago i didntt have one!

I was bed bound for five days under explicit insttrctionn not to move my arm - which basically meant i was stationary for 120 hours, easy enough?

Try it.

I have a new found understanding and respect for people who have to live that way. Day three was possibly the most depressing day of my life! But lets not get into that.

I cant move on without singing the praises of the nursing staff on Ward 48 - all of them, every single one! The care and compassion that they show each and every person that passes through that ward is incredible. It genuinely restores my faith in humanity when I think about how incredible they all are.

I have heard it said that "Doctors save lives, nurses save doctors". I dont think that is good emough. Nurses very rarely get given the respect they are due. They study to degree level, they spend the most time with the patient, apply the most amount of care and in my honest opinion, they have the biggest impact on the patients recovery.

I dont name names on my site, luckily I dont have to...

\Thank you all!


Right. Writery stuff now. I managed to hit most of my deadlines (though being bed bound didnt help!) and knocked a few hundred out here and there. Also read two books on screen writing and Assassin is really taking shape - it is quickly becoming my primary project now the manuscript is away!

Anyways,  doing this all one handed (no my other hand is not doing that) so I will leave it at that just now. Hoppefully get some more strenth bback in my other arm and get some writing done next week!

Oh, by  the way! What is the most random response you've ever received/given to the below questtion?

"Where do you see yourself in the future?"

...just curious lol, answers to my FB, Twitter or E-mail

Til next time folks,

"Take chances live for risks and follow your heart til it finds release. And know your dreams knnow no boundaries...they only lack belief!"

-SBP-

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

So there I was...

...suited and booted, nice shiny cufflinks gleaming in the sunshine and wearing a watch I'd never seen before.

It was a confusing moment staring at that watch, I noticed first that it didn't belong to me, and second that it's face was blank. But that didn't matter, there were punter's screaming at me cause the 14.55 was about to go off.

"Give me a monkey on McGarth's nag!" the man croaked. Flecks of spittle spraying the glass window between us as he brandishes liquorice lace in one hand and a copy of 'How to beat the bookies' in the other.

The liquorice lace throws me, I dont know how to ring that up through the till. People have tried to bet with all sorts before: cigarettes, beer, even had a guy try to barter with a bag full of aluminium cans,  but never liquorice lace. I begin to explain that I do-

"nneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" The buzzer squeals in my ear. All bets are off, the horses are out of their stalls.

Only the buzzer doesn't stop, and there's no horses.

I turn and stare at the offending deep fat frier as a few loose fries float about the simmering tallow oil.

"neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!"

Bugger me if thats not an annoying noise. I push one of the eight buttons, the buzzing stops. I lift the fries from the vat, they smell great when they are fresh. I swing them over to the fry station careful to avoid staining my suit, bugger the Ajax.

"Cheese call till two!" Now I laugh. The guy in kitchen must be near blind because the punter at till two is a dirty old man with no teeth and nicotine stained fingers, definiely not 'Cheese call' material. Only when I turn back around there is no punter, offending smell and liquorice lace gone as well. And there, right where he was stood a moment before, is a bonefied Cheese call. Definitely scoring a 9/10 on the too hot for apple pie hottie scale.

"Are you the manager?" she asks in a very posh southern accent. I look at my cufflinks.  

Probably. I think.

"Because I have a problem with my subscription and I want to make a complaint!" Her words are venemous now. Two tills to my left the new start drops two shakes, thick red slush pooling on the floor. She runs off crying.

'Get a wet floor sign!' I yell. Worried the horses might slip and then there'll be a bloody law suit. Every one of these customers could be a 'mystery shopper' or the gambling commision...or the environmental health *gulp*

"What about my subscription!" The irate woman yells into her phone, her eyes boaring holes through the phoneline.

"Calm down Miss, now what was your post code?" I ask in my politest telephone voice as I speak through the microphone, only slightly freaked out by the sudden echo I hear in the headset I've been wearing all along.

"Post code! Post code! I'm from Canada!" she yells.

Of course she is.

I knew that.

"And I want to upgrade to the movie channels!" I press the button on the till as I say 'No Problem' its next to SuperSize me and MakeItLarge

"And I want the Crispy Chicken Caeser salad!" I panic because I think we've ran out but I smile at her anyway, she's definitely a Cheese call.

"And while your at it ill take even money on Dettori in the 16.45 steeple and for gods sake will you get me a security guard for tonight like I bloody asked!"

I know its all the watches fault...


****

(It starts to make sense from here...honest!)

If you are still reading, congratulations! You are now the second person to survive the dream that I had last night (with me being the first :P)

No word of a lie, I was trapped in every job I have ever worked, all at the same time dealing with just about every irate customer ive ever had to face.

Absolutely mental! I spent hours rooting about in the bookies safe looking for big mac sauce and then went to the McDs stockroom trying to find £10,000 to pay a punter with, didnt find either.

The up side?

I woke up safe in the knowledge that whatever work threw at me today would be tame in comparison, and indeed that seemed to ring true as I came home in a pretty good mood.

Since my last rather 'feelin sorry for itself' update I have actually been pretty productive. Ive polished three short stories, written two pieces of music, one with lyrics one with a 'hum along vocal' which will hopefully become lyrics in the future. Also managed to get a lot of the screenplay from my head to the hard drive and then from the hard drive to the same folder with all the other screenplay related stuff.

The Aeon One submission is finished, thank god! I was learning to loathe that last 300 word stretch!

And to top off the writing related update I proof read a book of someone I have no doubt is 'One to watch'. So good I read all 100k words in a weekend and only sent back 5 pages of thoughts. (Anyone who has suffered my crit before knows thats doing pretty well :P)

Now if you came from facebook, youll want to know about the other thing...the *cringe* thing. I think im just going to stop doing it in the morning.

Most of the time, I am a succesful flirt. That is to say, the girl laughs and I don't get hit (...by her. There have been occasions where the girl laughs and the boyfriend hits me, but thats another story...) but a few mornings ago I found myself in one of those impossible : 'How the hell did I get here situations and how do I get out of it now that I've arrived'

The answer to both? I dont know. But it started like this:

She was attractive so far as train conductors go. Not too much make-up, nice soft tone of speaking, she managed to use the word 'idiosyncrasies' in a sentence...my kind of girl!

My pre-coffee, no nicotine for a month brain starts to highlight talking points. Shes working on a train, you know about trains, your sitting on a train! No, I tell my brain. Eh, she's got black nail polish on, that means shes a goth, talk about Marlyn Manson! Nope. Ok, talk about making out, or sex! Girls like sex! I decide to ignore my brain and stick to the tried and tested method as she approaches, I'll tell her she looks nice, you like her outfit, she has nice hair. Anything to start a conversation and the rest usually falls into place...

She looks at me, slightest hint of a smile on her lips.

"Did you dress yourself?" I say boldly.

 ...I swear to god, you know that way when you say something and everyone goes quiet? Well everyone went quiet and then I said that, and then the silence got suffocating.

It actually took her to do the, hand on the hip 'what did you say' stare before my brain registered the problem.

Quick! my brain yells Recover, recover recover!

"I mean, did you brush your hair?" I say trying to add a boyish grin, which just makes it look like I am trying to be offensive. 'See yah!' my brain says as there is an audible intake of breath on the carriage and all the clever one liners I know jump off at Partick station.

"Ticket?" she spits. It takes me a look in every pocket twice to find it.

"Oops" I say instead of sorry as I hand my ticket it over.

"Dick" she mumbles as she scores it with a pen and storms up the carriage.


So, ontop of the 'quit smoking' rule I have also added 'quit flirting in the morning...with Scotrail staff' (the girl in Starbucks is too cute not to flirt with and im sure the one in Costa gives me extra shots of caramel :P)

Anyways!

Consider yourself upto date!

Dare to dream!

SBP

 


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Waiting for my real life to begin...

Colin Hay.

Is anyone else just blown away by how awesome this song is? This is one of those songs, the ones that you hear and think 'I love this song, need to buy (d/l) it when I get in!' Then you get in to discover you have forgotten the name of the song, and all the lyrics are the wrong way round in your google search, and then YouTube distracts you until finally you give up...

Well at least it was for me. Then I wrote the blog title and it was like being struck by lightning! (Well not literally, thankfully I haven't the foggiest idea what it feels like to be struck by lightning so I can only presume whoever came up with the saying - and had the experience from which to draw a  comparison - knew what they were talking about!)

Anyways, the song kind of sums up how I've been feeling recently. I am seriously struggling with the monotony of my day job to the point where on several occasions I have actually came home and went straight to bed (desperate to put the day behind me). This, as it quickly transpired, did not help. The next day was/is no better. And so the vicious circle continued. I was 'waiting on my real life to begin'.  It went on and on and on and on until, suddenly...

Nothing happened...

The realisation sunk in my chest like a bag of soggy spiders. This is real life. It is happening. Right now.

"Is this it?" is what went through my head. "Is this what life is?"

It was about ten years ago (roughly) that people started to ask that annoyingly impossible to answer question:

 "Where do you see yourself in ten years time?"

Has anyone ever gotten that question right? Seriously! What self respecting 15 year old says. "Yes sir, I see myself sitting behind the desk of a repetitive job watching two monitors wondering how the hell I got here!"  That would have been the right answer, but it would have been wrong on so many levels!

It sure as hell wasn't my answer. I wanted to be an archeologist. Then a games designer. Then a captain in the navy. Then a doctor. Then I wanted to be 21.

Thankfully I just about managed the last one (although for some reason girls still tell me I have the mind of a teenager :P) but alas the rest of these career paths eluded me and I am that person sitting watching the e-mail inbox on one screen and relaying its contents to the outbox on the other. *Sigh*

The fact is, I never really put much thought into those career paths. Sure I know what an archeologist is, or at least I know what the word means. But digging up bones/relics etc for a living? Do I want to do that for the rest of my life? No. Games Design? Yeah that sounds great! Does it really? Twelve hours a day stuck in front of a computer screen staring at lines upon lines of text pulling my hair out because JavaScript isn't speaking to C++? Not for me either! Captain in the navy, lets not. And a doctor? Well, let's just say other people's personal problem are theirs, not mine!

So where does that leave me? Well to be honest it leaves me on the same boat as most people my age (which actually cheered me up!) and it kind of gave me a much needed kick up the arse!

Life is happening, this isn't a dry run, I'm not practicing, this is it! And as nice as daydreams about the future are, without action, without drive then that's all they will ever be. It's important to dream, and it's important to plan. I decided I am going to ask myself that question again, but not do it for ten years, or even one year.

"Where do I see myself in one month..."

Honestly, I will probably be in the same job (unless I win the lottery or get struck off, this is almost guaranteed), off sick recovering from my boob job. The important thing is that I will be closer to achieving my dream - the future I am aiming for - than I am now...

And in honesty that is all anyone can really hope for. Life is happening. Keep working hard. Keep striving forward. And step by step, day by labouress day I will be closer to my goals...


Keep on dreaming guys and gals,

Tomorrow is almost here!

SBP

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

W.I.J.M.U!

I heard a theory the other day, that for every piece of information your brain remembers it forgets something else...now I cant remember my bank account password! True story!

Guess I'll just have to assume im loaded until i'm skint ;) !

I was kind of feeling Oasis tonight. 'Whatever' led to Ocean Color Scene 'Profit in Peace', which led (obsquerely) to Billy Ocean 'When the going gets tough' (dont panic I recovered quickly), to some U2 'Angel of Harlem' + 'The day love came to town', Fratelli's 'Chelsea Dagger', Queen, Train, Travis, Shania Twain....yeah it went down hill very quickly from there.

Honestly, where does this music come from! Im convinced it breeds in my music folder. Soft Rock meets Pop at a party Metal was throwing and nine months later Miley Cyrus is born.

WHEN? I repeat *clears throat* WHEN! Did I ever listen to, let alone buy both Miley Cyrus albums? I'd love to say that's the worst of it but I fear the seeds of sour music run deeper than I dare to voice. Suffice to say that 'that iffy period in music called the 90's' has a playlist all to itself! Oh the shame :S

Can I blame it on being a DJ? Does that give me sufficient reason to have so many guilty pleasures choking up my hard drive? (Aly that's a direct question :P)

Right so, what is happening! Well lots to be honest.

I am now on day three of being a non-smoker, not had one! By my reasoning I am now allowed to look down my nose at all other smokers and comment on how much of a nasty habit they have. Unless she is 5' 10, blonde, stacked, early 20's, laughs at all my jokes and likes singing on top of tables. In which case I'll ask to borrow her lighter!

My brother is officially eighteen, which made me feel a bit old to be honest. So to counter-act this feeling I am going to go out this weekend and dance like i'm a teenager, drink like im at Uni and chase girls like I think I stand a chance! (I suspect I'll suffer the hangover of someone in their mid twenties though :S, Karma is so unevenly spread!)

Right, about the writing (because that's what this blog is meant to be about...damned eighties music waylaying me again :P).

I have found a spark of inspiration (as stated in my last post, if you've not read it...why not? Do you think I write these for the good of my health? Pfft.) and enthusiasm and have written screed's upon screed's!

This is what I have on the go at the moment:

Empire Book 1 - (Done, all 97'000 words of it!) - Just need to submit it to publisher/s
Empire Book 2 - (Draft Chapter Plans in Progress)
Fluke the Fight for Freedom (Competition piece for Albedo One) - Done, 9k words, needs proofed.

Now the interesting stuff...

For those who have read my update's religiously you'll remember the muscial idea, and how I said it came to me in a dream...well I had another one. But for a movie. And the concept is great! (I know i'm my own worst critic *blush*)

Imagine the Matrix, meets Bourne, meets The Usual Suspects...and you've probably got a totally different movie in mind from the one I am writing but more on that when I've more of the script down!

Assassin (Move Script) - In progress
Rock 'N' Roll Revival (Musical) - Three songs and accompnaiment written for this now, its picking up steam!

Ontop of all my own writing one of my good friends has had her first book published by PureSlush and is available in paperback from here :

http://www.lulu.com/shop/gill-hoffs/wild/paperback/product-20190137.html

Check it out, she is honestly the best writer I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in person!

And for those who dont know my cousin Mr Shaun Mills has started his own blog/book, check out all the details below:

www.thelofg.blogspot.com


Right, if you came here from FaceyBook then you'll be wondering where your involvement comes in, pretty straight forward. I need a Wijmu...

for those who dont know - Word I just Made Up. (I use these often...particularly when im losing an arguement :P)

Im looking for:

 A character name - male or female (or gender confused to be honest, dont let me hear anyone say SBP discriminates!),

A place name (and before my inbox gets in-undated by all the people who think they are funny: Paris, Germany, Rio De Janiero and places that actually exist don't count!)

A monster name (I expect this to be interesting...dont say me.  :P)

No guarantees that they will find their way into the book but they will all be written down and remembered. Best one's win a shot of their choice!

Dare to Dream Folks!

SBPhoenix

Monday, 9 July 2012

Inspiration!

It's funny the things that can inspire us. Sometimes its the simplest thing that can provoke such a strong reaction that we just feel compelled to jump or run or dance or sing or do something other than the nothing that we usually do.

Admit it.

How many times have you been walking down the street with your headphones blaring and a song comes on and you have to mentally command your feet not start to do the 'one-two shuffle' (For me it's Footloose by Kenny Loggins, I actually feel myself speed up as it reaches the chorus! And more recently "Sexy and you know it" I actually have to skip the song for fear I might start to strut!).

Ever danced in front of the mirror with a hairbrush? Taken a risk? Acted without thinking? Spontaneuity is the spice of life but we all seem so well trained now a days that we dont let it take control nearly as much as we should.

For whatever reason (which is to say no reason at all) I have not written or edited anything in a month, I feel like I should go say some 'hail Mary's' or an 'our father' or something to atone for the lack of writing I have done, but it just didn't feel right (the writing, not the prayer's - although they would feel equally strange after ten years of putting my faith in humanity not God).

Tonight was set to be the same. I got home from work and the most exciting thing that I could think of doing was sleeping (which I did for two hours). Even though I knew I had umpteen things to do, the enthusiasm was just not to be found. I sat and played Canon in D on the piano (the only classical piece I know) with a 'softly spoken ASMR' video playing on YouTube (these are rapidly becoming my new guilty pleasure, I have never experienced ASMR but man do they chill me out, if you've got time check out Amalzd or GentleWhispering such relaxing voices.) And I thought to myself, I could do that!

My rough Glasweigan accent and colloquial manner of speaking could definitely help put troubled minds to rest (yeah right!). 'I could even tell them a story...'

Then it hit me!

I could tell one of my stories! Now this may sound strange, especially to those who have never written anything meant to be read but! Reading aloud is one of the most important tools in the editor's arsenal. It is the best way to ensure that the story flows, if it doesnt sound right, then it needs a re-write! Alright? That being said I have always felt somewhat self-conscious when doing so (which is odd because I'll get up and sing on top of a table to a room of people I've never spoken to, but cant read quietly aloud in my room :S, go figure?!?)

It also allows me to 'side-step' an issue that has prevented me from publishing much of my real writing on this blog. A lot of publishers/agencies will not accept a submission that has previously been published, believe it or not this applies to an amatuer blog site anywhere on the internet. So if I posted a competition piece here, there is a good chance it would be rejected for the above reason, which I could see the sense in If I had 100k hits a month but with barely a thousand I dont think it makes much sense. However, recording an audio excerpt and uploading it to the site provides me a convenient loophole to get round this barmy rule!

So without further ado, softly spoken(ish), here is an excerpt from "The Fight for Freedom - A Mercenaries Tale", a competition piece for the Albedo One magazine later this year:





Now in other non-writing news what has been going on?

Well not a lot of next to nothing to be honest.

I did however go to a good friend's wedding and once again found myself inspired. Not by softly spoken voices this time but by that elusive thing we call love.

Now personally I have never experienced this feeling. Like, yes. Lust, certainly. Desire, most definitely but love...not so much. But that night I saw it in that couple's eyes as they danced to 'Then' and then 'Im yours' and I knew in that moment they were completely and utterly happy. Magic!

"Ces't la vie say the old folks..." (thats the old time rock and roller coming out in me!)

Spontaneous moments of inspiration, dreams, desires, lust and longing at the end of the day it all comes down to love. And love is all about happiness. I forgot at somepoint in recent months how happy, seeing other people happy can make you and I think the loss of that knowledge brought me dangerously close to accepting my lot in life.

Life isn't about a destination, it's about a journey, and regardless of what you might think or how old you might feel, it's not over while there's breath in your lungs. Take chances, live for the risks, and for God's sake follow your heart until it finds release! And know your dreams know no boundaries...they only lack belief!

I have no intention ten years from now sitting behind the desk of a dead end nine to five to find myself looking back and thinking of the life I could have had, life is happening folks, embrace it!


Dont stop believing folks,

Dare to Dream!

SBP

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Rise of the Draconern.

Can you believe it? July already, it seems as if Santa has just left and all of a sudden the tinsel and tree are creeping back up the cellar stairs!

Anyone still going strong with the old 'new year's resolutions'? I know I lost mine in February somewhere: still a smoker, still single, still a writer suffering from self imposed procrastination. That being said, the book is done so that's something, now I just need to muster the enthusiasm to proof read it. The Sub letter and synopsis are also nice and shiny so I really do just need to proof read the first three chapters and I can start submitting again. The problem is that I just dont make the time for it.

Im not going to make excuses, I just dont spend enough time doing it. I know I should.

I find myself being pulled in so many different directions. In the last fortnight ive read nine books: All of George RR Martins's "Game of thrones" novels and a few RR Feist ones. Despite the fact this means I have spent scant time actually writing, it is good for the imagination has given me a few nice ideas I would like to incorporate into the next novel in the series (which ive started already...another reason the proof-reading has been back burnered!).

I know the flavour of the month just now is vampires and werewolves so I intend on passing on that entirely, id rather be a first rate version of me than a second rate version of Stephanie Meyer. I did however love the idea of the Valheru in Feist's novels and think I will incorporate something similar, but entirely different: Enter the Draconern.

Draconern

The Draconern are or were the most powerful creatures on the planet. Great winged beasts that stalked the skies wielding tongues of flame and magic so powerful that none could stand before them, and none did for they were masters of all.

At the height of their reign the Draconern numbered tens of thousands; each commanding their own keep with servants and beasts of the lesser creatures on hand to answer their beck and call. They made war between the planes with other races and plundered the lands wherever they saw fit. Many ancient relics still lay hidden beneath the earth today where once stood a mighty dragon citadel.

But like all great races throughout the history of time, the Draconern were the masters of their own demise. (Something happened - not entirely sure what yet :S ) And the Draconern made war upon one and other and their numbers dwindled to a mere few.

Those who remained used their arts to take human form and live amongst the race that had once served them. They assumed positions of authority and control using subtle magic to influence the minds of those around them and enjoying the same lavish lifestyles they had as their ancestors had. Their true nature and identities were lost throughout the ages and despite their immortality many believe the Draconern to be nothing more than an ancient myth, lost to living memory.

Draconern Half-Kin

Half Kin are those who were born of a Draconern and a human, or a Draconern and a wyrm. Their powers are pale in comparisson to those of their ancestors but the humans are still skilled in the arts of magic and the wyrms are the most feared hunters of the sky. Alas these creatures lived only mortal lives and soon they too passed out of living memory.


Whelp

Descendants of the Half-Kins Half Kin and he only remnant of the Draconern to walk the earth today, these men and woman possess only the beauty of their ancestors, magical aptitude and skill with arms are that of only mortal men. Many of the whelps are ignorant of their ancestral forefathers and live out their lives without incident or care. Vindikar Drak is not one of these. The Drak family pride themselves on their heritage and see themselves as a cut above ordinary men, Vindikar is the worst and he will play a central role in the storyline in the second novel as Keira, Fluke and Akron travel to Kerona to learn more of the 'Power' and try to convince the people to prepare themselves for war with the empire which has followed them across the sand sea...

I like it, It gives me the oppurtunity to create a new race, maybe run a new series based on when the Draconern were at their height.

Well thats the idea.

In other news, the folks are away to Spain this week so got the house to myself bar my sis. Also got a colleagues wedding on Thursday so that should be good. Everyone seems to be getting hitched recently! I got to catch up!


Seriously thinking of toying with a 'date night' concept. Meet new people, get out and about and all that jazz.

Until next time!

Keep on dreaming folks!

SBP


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Campbeltown - Oh the Drama!

It couldn't just be a 'normal' camping trip could it? You know the ones that everyone else talks about: lots of alcohol, roasted marshmallows, sing songs round the camp fire, you know, all that stuff. No. We have to go and take it a whole step further.

Now. Don't get me wrong, we did do all those things (especially the alcohol bit :D ) but we did a lot of things that dont make the tourist pamphlets - exploding tents, blazing inferno's, that awkward moment when you mis-park the car:

Now I am a writer, but I feel words just cannot do justice to what I am talking about so, with that being said here is a blog first. Pictures!


The Tent

Two and half hours worth of effort, sweat and profanities and finally the tent was up. The picture does not do it justice, it is huge! (See superman? That's me!)


So everything was going well, the tent was up the scenery was gorgeous!

The View


Sunset Dura

Sunset Dura 2

Too often we take it for granted just how beautiful this country is. I remembered that this weekend.

Right, now remember the tent that took two and a half hours to erect? Well...


Dude, where's my tent?

This is not what it looks like. Well not strictly true, technically it is a picture of a car on top of our tent, but the car didn't drive into the tent, it was put there deliberately.

You see the rods that ran along the top of the tent were made of fibre glass - flexible and durable (my arse) and prone to shatter at the first strong gust of wind - so on night two, at 2.45 AM (when we are all a tad drunk and had just rolled into the sleeping bags) the tent collapsed and we had to evacuate.

Now most families (I'd imagine) would be quite distraught by this turn of events, ours? Nah, we had a good laugh as we struggled to pull my uncle from the depths of the tent turned survival maze. Keep in mind that the wind was still blowing a gale at this point and my arms were bearing the strain of the whole tent as the wind urged it closer to the sea. While the rest of the family stood around discussing the various ways to weight down a tent to stop it becoming a plane, my uncle (who had indulged in one or two beverages) dissapeared to return a moment later at 30mph and park where he had been sleeping only moments before.

Now I'll be honest, there was a kind of stunned silence as the audi rolled over the sleeping bags. This was then followed by shrieks of laughter (adrenaline? fatigue? madness? ...all of the above?)

I was then tasked with a very important salvage operation and had to delve back into the depths of the tent and recover sleeping bags and air beds, my brother and uncle promptly invaded the tent next door (my aunt and uncle - who hadn't heard a thing - were oblivious to their entry until morning) My mother and I decided it would be a good idea to get a cup of tea at this point (it is the jubilee weekend and tea is a very British thing to do)

I slept like a convict on death row just before the big day. So not much. I awoke to fits of hysterics as the rest of the family rose to view the new Campbeltown parking lot.


2.5 hours to put up, 2.5 secs to come down...

Now - that is pretty bad, but we should have seen it coming. The night before in the events tent (where we cooked and sang (and drank)) there was a fire, and not the scheduled kind. One of my other uncles had bought an all singing all dancing portable GAS fires. Which promptly blew up.

Dont play with fire

My uncle (the one with the car park idea) saved the day and with one hand braved the blaze, grabbing the propane bottle turned inferno (the other hand was way back holding his vodka safe out of reach) and wrestled it outside into the open air.



All in all, an interestng weekend...would I do it again?

In a bloody heartbeat!

Dare to dream!

SBP

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Books, boobs and other bollocks.

Ahhhh PhoenixRisen, too long have I strayed! I think an update is in order.

It has been an eventful couple of weeks (isn't it strange how we always think nothing interesting happens but when it comes to it the 'Things to write about' checklist is extensive?) As of this morning 'Empire' is officially as ready as it will ever be for submission. The I's have been crossed and the T's dotted and I've asked myself all the questions that needed asking. 'Should that apostrophe be there? Are there too many verbs in that sentence? Is that even a word? Does this even make sense!!!' Yes, they have all been asked and asked again! The submission letter and synopsis honestly took up weeks of my life!

Its peculair that I find it so easy to write imaginatively but when it comes to producing a couple of hundred words that state fact! My brain shrivels up and my fingers refuse to comprehend my meaning. It is only through the unwavering kindness of a couple of literary folks I know that the finished articles came to resemble a submission letter and synopsis...as opposed to the almost incoherent ramblings of an enthusiastic storyteller as they were in their initial format.

Thank you! To those who know who they are.

For those who don't know what a synopsis is, imagine writing a book, 97,000 words in length. And having to summarise it in less than 500 words with no twists, turns or surprises. For someone who is used to writing in detail and dramatically this is the hurdle at which they fall. I certainly did for my first novel, but with the help of the afore mentioned Saint's, book two stands a much better shot than book one did!

Now I know I promised a long and lengthy update about my boobs. Well boob. And its not even really a boob, it's more a pec...or the lack of one, but thats neither here nor there the fact is I was getting a breast implant. Note the operative word 'was'.

I was due to go in for surgery last Thursday to get a muscle from my back implanted into my chest to even out the fact I was born without the pectorial muscle on that side. It was all planned, the wheels were set in motion in November of last year.

The bag was overloaded with Lucozade and clean boxers (for the sake of the nurses I left the ones with the clever wordplay out.) I went in on the Wednesday at 2pm as advised...I sat in admittions for three hours...and then was told the surgeon was off sick - operation postponed - go home.

Now. This will be my 13th/14th surgery (i've lost count). And I will never criticise the NHS, the care and compassion I have received before during and after surgery is astounding...but a heads up would have been nice.

I dont mind the operation being postponed. Its more the mental state that you put yourself into when your doing something like this. Weeks of anticipation, in truth the operation is the easy part (I effectively go to sleep and flirt with nurses, pretty much sums up my time in hospital), it's the recovery that's tough. So all that stressing for nothing, well until it's re-scheduled.

As much as I am loathed to admit  it, I have been neglecting the piano. Don't get me wrong, the intention is there, I've printed off hundreds of sheet music...but not actually got round to learning it. The thought is there though, it is on the to do list.

I have been playing alot of MTG, the new format is pretty addictive and its alot of fun - really need to make a point of getting up to Spellbound again to do some real life drafting.

Does anyone else love Game of Thrones?

George R.R Martins books are phenomenal - on a par with R.E.Feist (and from me thats saying something!) I recently discovered the TV series (by recent I mean this morning) and have watched quite a few episodes (by a few I mean season one!) It's great!

For those who know me, I really dont watch television - at all. I watch question time on occasion, and when Jonathan Ross is on I will watch that. Most people find it strange that I don't know what's going on in Eastenders, or what the hell 'on it like a car bonnet' is referring to. But then most people think that Scots eat battered Mars bars and chase haggis about the hills with nets. And they think i'm strange. Hah!

I have started a new position in work, I am now the guy that makes the tea, for the guy that makes the coffee. Its looking up! But in all seriousness, the new job is not too bad - less stress, no weekends, sensible hours, less pay....but it does mean I can attend more writers groups and maybe an evening class in medicine if I ever get around to it.

Anyways, consider yourself up to scratch!

(Camping trip in Campbell town next week - should be intresting *cough* unbloody likely *cough*)

Stay tuned folks!

Dare to dream!

SBP

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Spellbound

It's funny the things we take our inspiration from. Some people seem to have this boundless energy and this limitless supply of creative passion that fuels them towards their goals, other people sit back on their laurels and watch the world go by. Today I was definitely the latter of the two...

...then tonight, BAM! This sudden urge to write, to draw, to play music. Having enough experience to know that rushes of enthusiasm like this are not to be knocked I grabbed a pen and started drafting storyline and sub plots for Empire book 3 (Yes I know ive only just sent books 1 and 2 away but like I said, dont knock the rush!)

It was only after I had spent a very productive two hours that I began to wonder where it had came from, this sudden desire to do something other than nothing. That strange impulse when I know im going to be in the zone, when the writing and the music has me Spellbound - then it hit me. Spellbound.

For those who don't know, I am hands down, the biggest fantasy geek I know (quite possibly the biggest one you know too!). From LOTR to FF7, D&D to WoW, Feist to Pratchett I love it ALL. Anything where someone can let their minds run riot, where impossibility is just impossible, where reality and dreams merge and swell encouraging people to think outside the box and challenge the conventional way of thinking that is 'The Norm' is 'A' ok in my book. And fantasy allows for just that, a release from reality and escape into a world of possibility.

A long time ago, in a shop far far away (well...it was actually in Anniesland, and I think its still there...but it does sun tans now. Well I use the words 'sun tan' very loosely because I think people tend to look more like Oompah Lumpah's but that is going off on a tangent...) Now where was I? Oh yeah, Arena Games.

My uncle was, and I would imagine still is a fan of lord of the rings, and when the movies came out so did a card game which I was instantly hooked on (though not very good at.) It involved compiling resources, casting spells, killing Balrog's etc etc. And eventually the card game led me to Arena Games where I discovererd several things:

1) I am not the only fantasy geek I know (there are actually lots of us, so be warned...we're coming up!)
2) There were adults with imaginations too (I was young at the time and TBH, thought grown ups were boring old farts, in some cases I wasnt wrong :P)
3) Most importantly, or rather, most enjoyably I discovered MTG. Or Magic The Gathering for those not cool enough to know the TCG lingo.

For years I played this game, up and down the country we travelled. Team Poch'l FTW. It was similar to Lord of the Rings but it took fantasy to a whole new level. I genuinely believe that MTG has influenced me in alot of ways with regards to my fantasy writing, and that Arena games played a role in me meeting other people interested in the genre. And then the shop shut, and I stopped playing.

A little over a fortnight ago I was on one of my many YouTube binges and was in the process of hitting the 'Skip this ad now' button when I noticed it was for MTG Online. Given that I was off, and bored and i had already watched the video where the dog attacks the printer I decided to download the online version and see how it went.

To cut a long story short, I pretty much lost a week of my life between catching up with all the new rules and MENTAL combinations that people are running. It did however spark my desire to play again and I ran a search and found a pre-release in Pollokshields East. Loaded the FB page to find it was run by Joao Madeira, a former Team Poch'l Deck Tech legend and regular at Arena games, and I pre-registered.

I had a great weekend. It turns out that Joao has been running this for almost a decade, catering to all sorts of niches within the fantasy market. More than just the fact that the tournament was well run, there was a genuine sense of 'belonging' within the building. Joao knew everyone by name and laughed and joked with them constantly. I later discovered that after almost ten years of running this facility that Joao is opening up a shop. Hes taking a risk, following a dream...grabbing life (pardon my french) by the balls! And so Spellbound Games is born.

So after all my pondering about what sparked my own enthusiasm, it came down to this. Seeing someone take a shot at one of their dreams, encouraged me to keep at one of mine.

It goes to show that sometimes the best thing for our own ambitions, is to see someone else achieving theirs.

All the best to Joao and his new business venture. I for one will be at the store drafting MTG as often as I can.

If you want to visit the man (minus the dreadlocks) the new shop is at:

82 Bowman Street, Glasgow, G42 8LF (2 mins away from Queens Park Station)

Ill definitely be hitting the shop on the 20th (after my *cough* boob job *cough* which there will be another update about at the weekend)


But for now,
Peace out,


Keep on dreaming folks!


SBP

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Stomp Stomp Clap! Stomp Stomp Clap!!

We will we will ROCK YOU!

...how many of you guessed that was coming? Kudos to you!

Recently watched the musical and for the first hour was a bit gutted because it is very similar to the musical I have penned (which is very unfortunate because until I watched We Will Rock You I thought it was a totally original concept) and albeit the story was a bit non-existent... (ok more than a bit. A more gripping tale could be told about your average pebble) but the music was mind blowing!

Particularly loved Kelly Ellis singing "No one but you - Only the good die young" it was written a few years ago (for those bad at maths that means it was done after Freddie died) and I had never heard it before, it was incredible. So emotional, written by Brian May who obviously had Freddie in mind when he was writing it!

So. Dear blog...it has been eight days since my last confession, and twenty one days since my last decent sized confession so I figure you are due at least ten hail mary's worth of time dedicated to you. So here goes!

"Hail Mary...."

Proud Mary that is! Still rocking away (or trying to on the piano) and have purchased three books of sheet music:

1 - Adele 21 (because who doesn't love Adele?)
2 - We Will Rock You (because initially I thought it was Queen's Greatest hits)
3 - Glee Vol 2 (because it has Proud Mary in it....ok, ok. Im a Gleek at heart! <3 )

That being said, most of the sheet music is above my level of comprehension at the moment. I can play the notes but getting the rhythm down is so hard! I find myself repeating the songs so much by the time ive got the chorus time I hate the song :S ! But I shall persevere, if a six year old kid can play "Flight of the Bumblebee" then im damned sure I can play Killer Queen.

Only recently discovered that McCormacks, one of Glasgow's oldest music stores is not there anymore! Which had me quite upset at first as I had no idea where else to look for sheet music in glasgow. Thankfully the android phone came to the rescue by pin pointing my location and verbally directing me to the nearest store (Biggars on Sauciehall street)

Biggars is a cafe/music shop/hottie hangout...im thinking about moving in lol!

All joking aside it really is a nice place. The music choice (over the speakers) is great, soft and balladish makes you feel like relaxing and stay a while.

I liked it so much I have returned every night this week after work for a latte and to proof read my novel. Which is done by the way. Did I tell you that already? Its D.O.N.E!

Proofing is a funny process, the more you think about it the harder it gets (no sexual innuendos please :P) I find that If I look for mistakes I rarely find them but If I read it normally things just stand out. Some of the word choice, sentence structure and general rhythm of the writing is just bad. It makes me wonder if I was drunk when I wrote it. There was actually a line which read: "The wind blew like...INSERT SIMILIE HERE!" which I had forgotten about and the similie proceeded to stump me for another thirty minutes!

In other news (non writing, non musical, non drink related weekend drama) I have a date for the next Operation; 9th of May.

Felt a little bit sick when I saw the letter, kind of "What the hell was I thinking?" but hey ho, nothing like diving in feet first!

For those who dont know this operation is for a boob job...no joke.

Part of the condition I was born with means I have no right pectorial muscle so the clever clogs in the medical profession worked out that they could take a muscle from my back, fat from my stomach (*cough* un-bloody likely!) and inplant it into my chest to create a 'simulated' pec! Its another "big one" apparently, but all I do is go to sleep...and flirt with nurses, nothing to it!

Thats about it I think! Time keeps ticking on, but that doesnt bother me, im spending it well, im going somewhere!

One more time folks! Stomp Stomp Clap! Stomp Stomp Clap!

Oh, almost forgot.

 "Amen!"

Keep on dreaming folks!

SBPhoenix

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The best laid plans...

Sometimes no matter what you do, you just get side-tracked.

After the weekend shift in work (which involves working 24 hours in 36 followed by a nice 10 hour shift to top it all off) I was looking forward to two well earned days off. But they were to be constructive days. I was going to use the time off well. Polish off the novel, read it til I was close to tears and print off a final draft ready to be sent away on Monday. I was also going to finish learning 'Your Song' on the piano (I know its not quite rock 'n' roll but I was getting sick of people walking in and saying "Whats that your playing?" I figure Elton John is instantly recognisable and they will leave me alone for a bit.).

Ended up not doing any of that...or very little. As it stands, the word document which contains my novel has not been opened or edited since last Friday and apart from the two bar intro ive not spent much time on Elton's John's tunes.

Id love to say the time has been spent productively, but its not really. I shovelled some stones from round the back, listened to lots of music, made a couple of trips to Asda and played computer games for longer than the recommended time.

Altthough im sitting here now thinking 'I wish I had done what I said id do' im kind of glad for the break. I think its important to take a break, even from things we are passionate about. Get some good old R&R on the go.

That been said I am going to bed!

(I now owe Word a very productive weekend...)

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Its done!!!

You know, I love me. I think I am awesome...

...that being said, even I am getting sick of the sight of that picture on the right hand side! I will need to remedy this, anyone with suggestions on a suitable background let me know :P

You know those weird thoughts you have in the morning when your body is still half asleep and your brain cant remember if you boil the kettle first or fill it? The sort of thoughts that flitter through your brain for no apparent reason and then in the same instant dissapear to be forgotten (disregarded) for another ten years until it comes back into your head. Usually this happens with music, ill hear a word or a bar of music and it will remind me of a song which I tell myself I must listen to, only to forget about it ten minutes later (this usually leads to about two hours spent trawling the internet trying to remember!)

But this morning, the fleeting thought was a person.

Now I dont know why, because I never really knew this person particularly well, but I got thinking about Marsielle and that got me thinking about a girl I went to school with who the last I heard had moved there. Twenty minutes later im standing at the station and she walks onto the platform...how mind bogglingly random is that?!

Of all the days for that fleeting thought to pop into my head, of all the fleeting thoughts that could have popped in there instead and I think about someone (who I havent met in almost ten years) then meet them on the platform...

Almost gives weight to the idea that theres something bigger out there. That we possess a sixth sense. An innate ability, through the interpretation of our thoughts, to predict and effect what lies ahead...

...almost, but not really. After all I wake up most mornings thinking about winning the lottery but thats not happened yet! Probably just coincidence.

For those of you wondering, NO. I didnt speak to her. What do you say?

"Hey! Not seen you in years though I was thinking about you this morning!"

...lol the comedy value would be great but I really dont want to add to the *cringe* moments

But no, like I said I barely knew her then and definitely dont know her now, after the third train change of the morning I felt it was just getting ridiculous so gave the standard "Hey *name* hows things?" to which she replied "gdnu" (which I think was meant to be 'good and you?' but cant be entirely sure as she always was very softly spoken) followed by "this is pandemonium" (presumably regarding the state of the train service that morning). I then spent the next ten minutes thinking about how good a word 'pandemonium' was and wondering why I have not used it in my book.

Anyways lol! Strange thing coincidence isnt it?

...just in case I am going to make a conscious effort to think about a duffel bag filled with unmarked bills before I click the kettle on tomorrow morning, better to be wealthy than right :P

As all of you astute people noticed, ITS DONE!!!!

I actually got to write those fantastic words, "The End...............of Part Two" today! And although there is still Part Three to come, the first book is officially finished...in its first form. Now begins the reading and re-reading the editing and tantrum throwing and re-reading and crying and quitting and starting again and rejection letter after rejection letter then the re-reading and editing followed by the backyard burning of the whole thing...then the printing off of the same thing then the....you get the point. :P

For those of you who have been paying attention (if not why not?) I gave myself the target of the 16th of April so I am going strong, it is just going to mean a couple of quiet weekends spent proofing rather than partying (how Will I survive!)

Anyways with that being said I shall get back to it!

Good Night All,

Dare to Dream,

SBPhoenix