Saturday, 24 November 2012

It's Bloody Done!

Hi guys,

Yes, as the title so crudely puts it, Days of Light and Shadow has finally been finished and put out on the kindle.

I'm sorry it took so long, but as I said previously this was a book that just seemed to grow and grow, and what I thought initially would be a normal enough length for a fantasy novel, ended up at two hundred and fifty thousand words. Far larger than I expected. But then as I have said elsewhere, my writing style is that of a panster (writing by the seat of my pants!) not a plotster. The best I can hope for as I write is that I have a rough idea of where the book is going. (And sometimes I'm wrong even in that!)

Anyway I finished the first draft a few weeks ago, got my sister to do an edit on it (she's an English lit sort of a girl with a far better eye for detail than me - but don't tell her I told you so!), and then spent three frustrating days with the track changes feature of Word. - That has to be the most horrible edit feature of any program I've ever used. Your eyes go screwy as you spend ages struggling over every little letter and space in the text.

Then, after a couple more days doing the format edit and checklists etc, at midnight last night I knew I was ready, and went to publish it on the kindle. Of course even that wasn't straight forward, and after three attempts lasting until dawn this morning, while the little wheel spun around and around telling me it was uploading the text, (the wheel lies!), I went to Kindle Boards. And there some wonderful man suggested a complete restart of the computer and wiping the cache, and behold - the fourth time it worked!

So that's been my night - and my day. Currently I'm overwhelmingly happy, but exhausted, and even after a nap I don't think I can write anything more today.

My plans at this stage, (yes I know, my plans usually come to naught), are to finish off the second book in the Wizard At Law series before Christmas. It's only forty thousand words and almost complete, so even for me it should be possible.

So that's it for me for the day. Next time I'll return to the Alien Spotter's Handbook.

Cheers, Greg.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Alien Spotters Handbook: Chapter Two.

Hi Guys,

Finally finished the draft of Days of Light and Shadow and sent it off for editing. 237,000 words of blood, sweat and tears, and I'm sure my fingers have grown shorter over the previous months from all the typing!

So now while I've got a little time up my sleeve, I thought I'd return to my blog on spotting aliens among us.

The Alien Spotters Handbook:
Chapter Two: Personal History.

Ok, so you've got some questions about your co-worker. You think he's a little strange. That he smells odd and does weird things. He's always watching everyone. And that odd palor. You think he might be from somewhere a little further away than Kansas. So how else might you check if he's literally out of this world?

Well personal history is always a good guide. And it's not as if you'd be snooping if you asked him about his family or where he's from. This is all the normal stuff that people ask about their friends and colleagues.

So what can we be reasonably sure of when we ask an alien about his personal history?

Well for a start he'll have one. It would be a very foolish Martian who came to Earth to study us and had no background. In this he'd be no different to a spy sent in to a foreign land to steal secrets. If he had no background, he'd stand out, and no spy, and I assume no alien, wants to stand out.

But his personal history will have to be different from yours or mine in several key areas. (Unless of course you are from another world!)

For a start there'll be no real way of checking it.

Consider the situation when you go for a job interview. The panel ask you about your work history and your schooling and so forth. All perfectly reasonable stuff. But our alien can't really have this. After all it's highly unlikely that he grew up in Kansas, went to school in Mrs. Meg's School for Oddballs and so on. Certificates of achievement can be faked. Databases can be corrupted. And we assume that people who can travel light years can do these sorts of things. But how would they fake the actual life history of someone who wasn't there?

The answer is that they couldn't, and so most likely, they wouldn't.

Instead they'd do the next best thing, make sure that their personal history couldn't be checked. So expect their personal histories to include details of growing up in strange little out of the way places. Places so remote that it would be a near miracle if they ever ran into anyone else from them. In fact they may well have histories that include growing up overseas. (It would explain any issues with accents as well.)

Likewise their schooling. Since they would not have been on Earth as children, their schooling would have to be a fake as well. Otherwise it'd be simple to just ring up the school and ask if they have a yearbook from 1987 with lots of photos. So what would be the chances that the school burnt down, was closed, or that the teachers they mention have all retired or passed away?

Then there's family. We all have families, and I assume that aliens do too. But their family is likely sitting on another world. So the only family members they could list would have to be fellow aliens also on Earth. Family who I would guess, would also have similarly uncheckable pasts.

Further, those family won't include children. Who would bring a child to an alien world full of strange people that know nothing of aliens?

Work history is another likely problem. Granted they may be posing as young adults, relatively new to the workforce. But if they aren't, the question becomes how long were they planning to spend on Earth as they continue their studies? My guess, a few years at most. So any work history prior to that would again have to be fake. Again think companies that have gone out of business, bosses who've retired, overseas employment. Anything that would make it impossible to check.

So there it is. Another Archilles Heel in the alien's library of techniques to hide in plain sight. So if you do have doubts about a friend or colleague, why not just ask them the normal things you would ask of anyone else. Where's you grow up, go to school, work before coming here?

But be warned. He might not be an alien after all. He might be James Bond!

Cheers all, and good spotting.