Kindle Things

I have finally got round to leveraging having sorted out my financial relationship with Amazon to include the ability to self publish. Its something I tried to sort out a few years ago, but system errors kept cropping up.

So I’ve begun going back over first drafts of short stories to get them up in both quality and word count, and will likely start putting individual ones for a few pennies here and there while I get to grips with it all.

I’ll post links as I sort things out. I’d say it’ll keep me out of trouble, but let’s face it that’s not likely.

Fiction Fragment – Construction Blues

Grinding noises filled the air before he even arrived at the library. A large scale building project seemed to be doing its best to envelop and absorb the older brick building like some predatory amoeba. The concrete bones of the towering new buildings were in the process of being dressed in brickwork similar to that of the library in anticipation of their windows and doors being installed. Scaffolding was liberally draped around everything in sight, and even buttressed against the older building across flattened roof spaces visible from the road.

The library building definitely seemed to be enduring the outrage with a suppressed eye-roll expression. Sounds of metal grinding through brick and concrete dominated everything and echoed off the surrounding buildings. Below that you could hear the thrum of generators and the hiss of compressed air escaping, while loud steady beeping noises told of reversing vehicles somewhere nearby.

The hope that this would ease as he walked through the doors was quickly dashed. Even inside the walls of what should have been a haven of peace the loud rattle of metal overlaid everything else. He was surprised not to see any cracks in the walls or visible vibrations in the shelving. Perhaps, he mused, the books were acting as a shock absorber, protecting their housing the only way they could. A glance out the nearby window gave the context to that noise at least: caterpillar tracks on diggers as they ground and inched their way around the site. A sign could be seen fixed to a nearby wall. It read “What is reading if not a silent conversation? – Walter Savage Landor” Librarian humour.

He paused and and took in the pinched expressions and weary smiles of the staff in the face of the encroaching construction noise. It wasn’t stopping them from engaging with their customers with what looked like genuine enthusiasm.

Crash

Been a no good day today, with no energy, low mood, and very little self esteem. I’m pretty sure its mostly a reaction to knowing I don’t have to work next week as I’ve booked it off.

Whether I’ll be at work for the following weeks is anyone’s guess. I imagine there’s a lot of negotiations currently taking place. Worrying about that now doesn’t do me any good.

In the meantime we have binged on tv, and I have been writing and drawing. Its nanowrimo so I’m going to try at least writing something every day.

Return of the Mini-Weekend

So my weekend started today after working my Saturday, and I’ve been quietly enjoying the sunshine, that and the knowledge that I’m also off on Monday. I’ve been mostly just enjoying being in my own head after a week of being around people at work – and I definitely plan to spend some time quietly by the river tomorrow – mostly reading and writing.

And following my most recent counselling session this evening, I’ve got an interesting challenge. I’ve been asked to write a piece that can be used in a training session as a testimony – in this case to talk about when I’ve been suicidal: both in terms of lead up and what came after on the counselling side. I’ve agreed to do it, so a quiet spot by the river without interruptions sounds a good spot to have that introspection.

It’s not the first time I’ve written about my “journey” for use in a class. It’s been a while though. The last time was more focused on recovery from self harm and was both challenging and rewarding to be able to be a coherent voice speaking to people directly and give a perspective on what they may encounter. It’s the same reason I’ve agreed to do it this time – because I want to talk about how I didn’t make it obvious to people that I was in a spiral, but also how it felt to be able to talk about it in counselling once the crisis moment was past. If it helps someone with a future client its worth it.

Morning all

Writing is being perpetrated, the sun is shining, and I’ve had my diabetic blood tests done early today so the full morning is spread before me.

Not a bad start. I’ve had a coffee and some breakfast, can you tell?

Yes, those are masks on the sofa, why?

After a restless night its good to be using some of that energy productively.

The blood test went as quick and easily as you might hope, despite my stupidly forgetting my mask (they had spares). It’s the first time I’ve had one done at the GP rather than wandering down to the hospital – and I may take the booking approach more often given how stress-free it was.

That said i have just remembered I didn’t actually book the follow up appointment with the nurse for a couple of weeks time, so I had better sort that out next…

Proud Blog-Father

My daughter has been in lockdown in Oxford Brookes University since everything kicked off, and like so many of us has been trying new things out on the cooking front.

Today I had a quick note and link to an article she just had published on the Oxford Brookes Student Union website about her “student-approved” baking recipes.

Being a proud father to a fellow writer, I of course have to share this with you all. Go have a look at https://www.brookesunion.org.uk/articles/student-approved-quarantine-baking-student-blog and enjoy both the quality of writing and the baked goods.

Writing Stuff

A quick update on the long-gestating novel. Barring a few little linking passages I’ve typed up most of the first draft of the novel. and have the rest in various notebooks, including some alternative takes on scenes. Hooray, but now begins the big edit and reworking of major bits because my focus and tone has shifted as the characters have evolved, and some of the stuff that I’ve come back to read now has me noticing all kinds of plot holes.

So. The current plan now is to streamline some scenes, remove some others, add another couple of viewpoints to see if they work, and try not to throw my laptop across the room. Well, at least more than a couple of times.

This is actually a big deal given I started this with a Nanowrimo in 2011 (I think) and then have wandered all over the place between copywriting as a freelancer, then deciding I needed some regular income and becoming a library person again. I just need to knuckle down and carry on doing this slog. I’ve learned a lot about the sheer grind needed to write long-form stories – and every short story and fiction fragment here and in other places have been learning steps along that road. Nothing is wasted effort. If I say that often enough then I’m sure I’ll believe it at some point.

Now to do battle with Amazon again and see if they’ll accept my bank details for self-publishing at any point.

Fiction Fragment: Street Scene

They eased their way out of the tavern’s door in ones and twos so as not to wake anyone sleeping in the common area. Bustling noises from the kitchen area suggested a breakfast would be forthcoming soon, but the prospect of fresh air untainted by sleeping body odours was a strong lure, at least until windows could be opened and more wholesome aromas allowed to circulate. There were benches and tables outside on the pavement, so at least they wouldn’t have to sit on the floor or lounge against walls like louche street thugs.

The bells were ringing in the morning in the distance – from Guildhalls and churches, libraries and public buildings the carillions blended and merged to form snatches of recognisable tunes obscured by distance and the mundane domestic sounds of the start of a new day. Carts were already beginning to make their way to market, or to deliver to any one of the many shops in this metropolis. A half-elf was brushing the road clear outside the bakery next door, his blue apron stained with flour from his early start. A dwarf in the livery of a courier service was directing envelopes from his wheeled case to doorways with a flick of a wand – messages and small parcels flying to letterboxes with quiet efficiency.

A gentle breeze scented with the smell of frying bacon wafted past and lifted the additional warmth of fresh bread from the bakery, and in that moment the travellers knew it was going to be a good day.

Fiction Fragment: A Taste for Wonder

“The world is a place of wonder that doesn’t care if it is observed or not. Rivers flow and trees fall in woods whether or not anyone is there to witness. Sunrises don’t mind if anyone is awake; and clouds just get on with being part of the water cycle. It’s only when soppy humans get involved that the value judgements start: ‘Oh wow, that rainbow is beautiful’ carries as much weight as how icky it is to see that decomposing animal, or be uncomfortable about the rain trickling down my neck, or ‘how dare that virus kill all my herds and hit my profit margins?’

All of these things may be felt simultaneously by the same farmer in one field in the most breathtaking hillside view – and none of them are mutually exclusive or any more or less valid a manifestation of the complexity and wonder of this world. Wonders don’t have to be, and frequently are not, intrinsically beneficial or pleasant.


Do I sound jaded? A little distant perhaps? I don’t think I am, but I do get tired of hearing the same old exclamations and crying.” The dragon paused to take a sip of his martini and glanced around the bar. Nobody was paying any attention to us. That said, it was a Friday evening in Canary Wharf so not only was the bar packed but it was full of conversations about money and expensive toys. As far as anyone else was concerned we were just a couple more folks in the bar lucky enough to have grabbed seats and a table; and that probably meant we’d been there all afternoon.


I’d better explain. There was a distinct lack of scales, teeth, and fire breathing on view. Craddoc found they got in the way of running a Fortune 500 company, so only let his wings out at the weekend when he flew home to the valleys, or if he’d decided to work from home while moulting. He’d never revealed where home was exactly and I suspect it wasn’t exactly a converted farmhouse. We both left it as something not to be discussed and were both the happier for it.


“Anyway, my dear Dorian, what I’m trying to say to you is that it is a pleasure to see you again, for you are as wonderful to me as the sunlight on the Thames and the shadows beneath Tower Bridge.” His amber eyes seemed to twinkle with reflections of the sun off the skyscrapers outside but I’d long ago learnt to not look him directly in the eye. Just because he wasn’t trying to eat anyone right now, didn’t mean I had to tempt fate more than I usually do.


“Well, thank you Craddoc for putting me in my cosmic place. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s morn or the dew on a rose or would an avalanche seen from afar be a better analogy?” You do have to have a certain lack of regard for your own skin to tease a dragon, but I’d learnt that he did enjoy barbs that showed an appreciation of his wordplay.

Audio Reading Version:

Spoons Management

Yesterday wasn’t a fantastic day – one of being low in energy and mood, and it wasn’t helped by diabetes starting my day with an upset stomach that led to copious vomiting mid-morning. Still, at least when that was done I wasn’t as bloated and queasy and merely had a headache, lethargy, and a general feeling of worthlessness – so a reasonable trade-off I guess.

Part of the low energy and dip in self-esteem came from the enforced distancing and general ill health between us all. A big part of my love language is physical touch with those I’m close with – not necessarily intimately, but just the brush of hands or quick hugs or joking pokes in the ribs that cross the gaps between us and at least in my head remind and reassure of acceptance and comfort. So with Lady M having a bad fibromyalgia day and physical distance from myr s, it was a bad day to be having my brain throw a tantrum on that front.

Then there was just the part where I was physically tired as well as emotionally exhausted. I’ve been doing a lot between preparation for the D&D game, cleaning the house/decluttering, and generally being a supportive and positive person for everyone – and I just needed to collapse for a bit. Being typically introverted however, I’m generally not fantastic at communicating this coherently, which can lead to a bit of a spiral of my own making.

But that was yesterday – and today the sun is out, and we’ve spoken at appropriate distances with neighbours. They’ve all asked how we are doing now from when we’ve posted on local facebook groups about going into isolation. There’s been the affirmation that our experiences are not so different, and that generally people are choosing the positive view of how to deal with these weird times.

I have the game tonight, so I’me doing some minor tweaks and preparation for that, and I’ve started recording some odds and ends for a channel on our discord, telling stories. I’ve even written an experimental new beginning for the book and recorded that:

I think what I may start doing as I transcribe more of my short stories is also do recordings of them too as an ongoing process – partly to get practice in, but also to offer another form of accessibility to people who can’t read easily for whatever reason. It’s another creative form, and one that I hope people enjoy.