Posts Tagged With: writing

Paperback Righter


Here’s two I finished earlier…

I buy a newspaper on a Saturday. This is somewhat of an anachronism (the purchase of a paper, not Saturday), going back to a time when there was actually something on the TV that might be worth watching but no reliable TV guide (either provided by the TV itself or available via the internet). In those days, the cryptic crossword had a prize worth teasing the old brain cells for and, well, probably the summers were better, the water sweeter and you could have a three course meal, a crate of wine and a taxi home and still have change from a fiver.

Nowadays, the crossword is available on the day online for free, and even our 8 year-old TV has its own guide-thing at the press of a button, helpfully labelled “Guide”. I have always felt that it would be more useful if, on pushing it, the TV told you what the hell was happening, either with the programme showing, or maybe just life in general.

I digress. In last Saturday’s newspaper, in the Review section, there was an article where various writers and writing-teachers waxed lyrical with tips for would-be writers. They are the people in the title, trying to “Right” authors with their hints on how to be good at it.* I have to say that I am not a great fan of tips like this because IMHO what you need to do is write first and develop your writing muscle, then see about the other stuff. Once other people have read your work, then you can start the refinement of your writing style.

Of all the dozen tips, there was one that I did actually like – so I will share it with you, provided you promise to let my novel be ahead of yours in the bestseller list for the first couple of weeks.


Here are some that I haven’t started…

It is an easy one – sort of – and comes from William Boyd, who is a novelist and screenwriter (it says here):


Mr Boyd says that he sees lots of good ideas presented to him by budding authors who, when asked the question “How does it end?”, answer “No idea”. Or words to that effect.

In the case of my latest novel, I have been very, very slow at finishing it. In fact, I have known for some time how it will end, but that detail is still in my head, and not on the page, electronic or anachronistically paper. This tip from William Boyd has made me wonder whether that is part of the problem – the ending isn’t concrete, solid, has no physical existence.

Guess what I am not doing right now (because I am writing this)? The last few pages of “The Xylophone at the Gates of Dawn” are slowly coming to life on my other screen. I think the ending might just be the start…


* And in no way just a lame excuse for a pun.


Categories: BATDIG, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

What I did this (so-called) Summer



According to Facebook, it has been some 22 days since I posted anything on my Books by Jon Sayer page, which means that it has been that long since I wrote a blog post. The days of (not-really) summer seem to have flown by, and I have started to ponder what I actually did in those 22 days.



Here’s a list:

  1. Made a lot of tea and coffee. And boiled dozens of Kelly Kettles (well, OK, two actual kettles half of a dozen times).
  2. Opened and helped to drink quite a few bottles of wine. I mean, I’m kidding, of course only water for me.
  3. Been to the bottle bank to recycle all those bottles of wine I had absolutely nothing to do with drinking.
  4. Over the course of a second (around midnight) last week, became one year older. Oddly, in that second, everything started to ache just a fraction more than before.
  5. Had a trek to the cinema to see a Star Trek – from my house, that cinema feels like it is in a galaxy far, far away, along with a different sci-fi franchise.
  6. The Recycling Plastic Locally project has made some progress in that now almost all the wiring for the temperature controller is done and I am going to do a test melting quite soon, if only to try to use up the almost (that word again) full bucket of chopped up milk cartons I now have.
  7. I did some animations – 2 in particular were satisfying to complete because I did the music for them as well as the pictures. Check them out here and here.
  8. Photographed some wildlife in the form of moths and butterflies in our Limery and fruit cage.
  9. I added about a thousand words to my novel. I know – rubbish. I promise to do better.

So, that’s why I haven’t posted. Not one but nine excuses. Plus I have a note from my Mum. Well, the Snail’s Mum. And it’s really a birthday card rather than a note.


…and, er, more moths


Categories: camera, General silliness, Plastic, recycling, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Plastic – Recycle Locally 3


Lights, camera – and, thankfully, no real action

Next stop for the local recycling project – the electronics bit. This is the bit that I at least understand and can make a reasonable fist of making. First off, I raided the boxes in the attic that are invisibly marked “put aside in the attic for twenty years because they may contain something of use one day”. Here is the haul of goodies I retrieved:


Exciting Stuff found in the Stuff Room a.k.a. the attic

I know! How exciting is that? There’s some wire, a mains switch with cable and a metal box. There’s also some other stuff that is, take my word for it, equally exciting but not useful for this project (well, not yet, anyway). It is actually extremely gratifying to finally use odd bits and pieces that have lurked, overhead and tucked away, for so long.

The metal box is actually a plastic-coated metal box that came from an old mobile ‘phone transmitter about twenty years ago. There was going to be a network of these boxes on every other corner in cities to provide the fledgling mobile ‘phones (then still quite brick-like in shape and weight) with a signal. Needless to say, this method of providing mobile telecommunications never got off the ground, whereas the method that succeeded reached high into the landscape of every town, city and area of outstanding natural beauty.



Oh joy! DIY with a drill!

So, on with the build. This involved cutting two large square holes on what will be the front of the box. I have never done this before so I figured that you cut as big a round ho0le as the square allows then buy a file (because you haven’t got one) to do the rest.

To a large approximation, that method worked. Just don’t look too closely.

It also worked for the hole on what will be the back of the box, for the on/off switch. Really, don’t look closely at that one at all.


The Insides – ew…

After wiring up the temperature controllers, the mains supply and the switch, it was time to put the lid on and power up.

There was, thankfully, no big bang, just the welcome glow of the LEDs on the front panel. AND I didn’t receive an electric shock when I touched any of the screw heads on the back.

So, now I just have to mount and wire in the two solid state relays (they turn the heaters on and off in response to the temperature controllers’ whims) and attach some leads to take the electricity out to the heaters and I will be done.

I have an idea as to how to test the whole plastic-melting theory too – more on that later… but it involves a tin of baked beans. Now I will go back to finishing my next novel, where baked beans are extinct and there is a large superhighway running over the top of West Wales, with luminous walls and one-wheeled cars.




Categories: Plastic, recycling, Sustainable Stuff, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Blimery! It’s a Colourful Limery!


A Ruddy Pepper

Phew, what a scorcher! Today (19th July 2016), the UK is roasting with temperatures into the 30s (centigrade that is. If it were Fahrenheit, there really would be a problem, possibly with my ability to differentiate between hot and cold). In fact, it is too hot for me so I have largely stayed inside, staring at the cold black and white of the electronic document that is my next novel.


A Blooming Sunflower

BUT… we all need colour in our lives so here is some, courtesy of the wonder that is the Limery! It’s almost a rainbow, but more edible. Enjoy!



Categories: gardening, General silliness, Sustainable Stuff, Writing | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

What’s in a… Name?

About to do the deed

Yeah! Go on! Call your first novel a non-existent word!

You look out your window, maybe for the first time since you started your magnus opus, maybe for the millionth (because that’s how it works with you). Your masterpiece is complete. Maybe it is a novel, a short story, a canvas depicting the adoration of the magi using emojis*; perhaps you have successfully created the first jam-filled round cake from spuds**.

Whatever your creative juices have poured over (ew!), one thing is certain: it needs a name.

As a round in one my favourite radio comedy programmes, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, repeatedly demonstrates, a good title is everything. Who would have read, let alone wrote a song about, a book called “Wuthering Hillocks”?

Would “Catch-22” be such a, well, catchy title if it had been called “Catch-18” as originally planned?

And what fool would call their first novel a title that was a made-up word? Well, OK, me, but that isn’t the point.

Certainly, you want to ensure that the name you give your novel/album/painting/sculpture/offspring is memorable, carries the general atmosphere of the thing you have created and will, if a literary or musical offering, at least fit on the cover.

So, spare a thought for fans (and indeed the graphic design artist) of Fiona Apple who decided to entitle her second album thus:

“When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right”

Strangely, fans refer to her second album as “When the Pawn…” or “her second album”.

But that isn’t the longest album title in the world, oh no. That honour (?) is held by Chumbawamba who called one of their outpourings:

“The Boy Bands Have Won, and All the Copyists and the Tribute Bands and the TV Talent Show Producers Have Won, If We Allow Our Culture to Be Shaped by Mimicry, Whether from Lack of Ideas or from Exaggerated Respect. You Should Never Try to Freeze Culture. What You Can Do Is Recycle That Culture. Take Your Older Brother’s Hand-Me-Down Jacket and Re-Style It, Re-Fashion It to the Point Where It Becomes Your Own. But Don’t Just Regurgitate Creative History, or Hold Art and Music and Literature as Fixed, Untouchable and Kept Under Glass. The People Who Try to ‘Guard’ Any Particular Form of Music Are, Like the Copyists and Manufactured Bands, Doing It the Worst Disservice, Because the Only Thing That You Can Do to Music That Will Damage It Is Not Change It, Not Make It Your Own. Because Then It Dies, Then It’s Over, Then It’s Done, and the Boy Bands Have Won”

Frequently referred to as “The Boy Bands Have Won”, the thing about this epic song-lyric-in-its-own-right-title is that it strikes me as being pretty much on the money.

My third novel is entitled “A Xylophone at the Gates of Dawn” which is a pastiche of Pink Floyd’s first album name, itself taken from the title of chapter 7 of “Wind in the Willows”  by Kenneth Grahame.

So, there’ll be no problem fitting on the front cover. I hope.


* The Adoration of the E-Maji, obviously.

** Why would you do that, why, why?

Categories: Artist, BATDIG, General silliness, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

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