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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Seven Month Update



I have made a new contribution to my "Writing and Reading For Pleasure" series on Mick Rooney's TIPM site for February 2017 as a  reflective post on happenings in the last seven moths.



When I started writing this post last Friday I should have been on the hospital operating table. A small procedure making me either into a "new grumpy old man" or  a frightening and fear filled start along a road to becoming a "bionic man" but instead the x-ray machine to progress the Asimov type procedure broke down. Totally unexpected, but it gave me a few hours to write a TIPM post and do other things on my long to do list. Fortunately I only have to wait another three weeks for them to try again.



I made my usual annual trip to France for two weeks at the end of June 2016 using the direct London Marseilles Eurostar to Lyon. Then various time-consuming local links to my remote destination. Despite being unwell while there, I had the reassurance of my host plugging me into the local emergency services just in case, which thankfully I did not need. I also managed to return home, albeit with the stress of various connections and having to exit the Eurostar and reboard at Lille for security all thanks to Osama Bin Laden. Apart from the Lille experience I recommend the Eurostar service and see it has been expanded from the twice a week service of last year.



While in France I surveyed the time I had available in my life and the various pressures. Since 2010 when I started writing essential activities, other than writing, had been crowded out. These now needed attention so I took the decision to restrict writing to a major push on self-editing my million words written between 2010 and 2014 and to drift my reading back to non-fiction. The casualties were keeping an active web presence and checking web advice and posts which were taking much scarce time at the expense of editing time. 



I also took sometime to filter all the advice I received and read about how to write since 2010. Reading some of my early stories I felt they were much fresher than more recent writing. I decided in my efforts to improve my writing I might have been squeezed into literary conformity by those giving advice. Many had not managed to write best-selling books or receive consistently high reviews in their own writing.



I have found my self-editing and limited external edits on my writing long and painful. As previously pointed out in earlier posts I am a learn by doing person. Being a writer is not a short-term activity. While reading the splendid autobiography of Sir Geoffrey de Havilland - Sky Fever - I chuckled at his bravery in trying to fly his first own design and built aircraft. When airborne he did not have enough time to learn how to exercise control before crashing and destroying the aircraft. Fortunately he survived to build and learn to control later aircraft by flying.  He did not copy the designs of other pioneers because he thought they were all feeling in the dark.



The main character in my long story-books, Henry Cross, believes in time travel and finds himself in much the same position as Sir Geoffrey. He has to learn how to control time travel once his journeys back into the past and into the future have started. Unlike the time travellers in H G Well's book Henry has managed to return to "go" so far.



Stephen King and many other authors I respect have a high regard for the craft of writing short stories. Taking this as a foundation stone I have gone back to my original approach of formatting my long story-books as collections of interlinked short stories, each with the following structure.



Fundamentally a good storyline, normally but not always with a beginning, middle and end. A good hook at the beginning to keep readers wondering. A memorable moment or moments, some titillation, a surprise and/ or a twist in the tail or both. A theme of LOOKING and SEEING runs through my writing and I have ordered books on the subject by the late John Berger to study and expand my own thoughts.



Both of the professional editors who examined my writing in 2011 remarked about my writing being "unusual". This could have been code for "rubbish" but if so I ignored their advice and ploughed on. I spent much time from November 2015 to May 2016 in composing a 5,000 word short story for a competition. I had looked at past entries and thought I could do as well or better. I did not get anywhere because I reflect the sifters of entries probably did not recognise the merit of my unusual fiction.  Later testing of the text with  editing software gave a high rating, at least the equivalent of recent and old speeches by our national leaders which I have also tested for fun. The editing software is much franker than my professional editors in describing less satisfactory text as "dreadful". I wish those editors had given me such advice but perhaps it is easier to accept such a comment from a machine than a human. Gary one of my professional editors says most people, over 50%, stop reading books because they get bored. As readers do not know what to expect from page to page of my writing I hope I can hook them in.



Since last June my decision to narrow my writing focus has borne fruit. I have at last cracked the tense I wish to use deciding on "predominately active present". This a means to move towards my hated mantra of "show not tell" in producing active rather than passive descriptions of events. The changes have been very time-consuming.



I have been helped by two features of the AUTOCRIT computer editing old system that is - pointing out passive text and overuse of words. The old system which processes text over the Internet crashed recently and I feared it would stay down, but it is up again. While AUTOCRIT was down I looked at other editing software packages. I have been evaluating STYLE EDITOR and find it good to use with a direct link to and from MSWord for editing. It would be even better if it included the over used word facility found in AUTOCRIT. I wonder what editing software other writers reading this post may use. Analysis of this post in draft signals an easy read rating but poor style and fair active writing and flow ratings. I will tune up before publishing. (My tune up now shows good text in style flow and active writing.) Any comments on the result would useful.



When I was writing towards a target of a million words an average daily writing target provided good discipline and pressure to write. I have failed to find a similar spur to completion in self-editing. This is because some sections of text are easy to bring up to a standard while others take many attempts. I am happy with my creativity expressed in the form and mix of my plotting with only a few matters where I have forgotten the plot. I am very pleased I did the million draft words in a continuous process rather than book by book. I amaze myself at some of the stories I have forgotten I had written. In various places I left chapter headings and notes for detailed writing later. A big mistake because I find I am struggling to complete these, perhaps because whatever the reason I could not originally is unchanged. I have not experienced writer's block in any other matter.



Since June 2016 I have managed to self-edit and bring text up to near publishing standard for over 300,000 words in my first long book trilogy. I have also found on my computers all but a couple of over 100 free-standing short stores and made them into another volume of nearly 100,000 words. The two lost stories are niggling me as they must be somewhere. Despite my good intents my computer filing is not as good as it needs to be for saving my writing. I am pleased my concentration of effort has been worthwhile.



May I wish all writers, readers and those considering publishing an interesting, enjoyable and productive year in 2017. I will stop now as I have gone past my target word count for the article. I have some more material to write a later post when I am a new grumpy old man.

Douglas

Friday, 3 June 2016

The state I'm in ...



Douglas continues his TIPM writing and reading for pleasure series for June 2016 with reflections on six years of writing and the future.



I woke this morning Wednesday 1 June 2016 at around 3.00am calm and fed up with my normal sleep patterns ruined by medication. Almost exactly six years ago, I woke in a cold sweat, while in France, fearful of those who were chasing me to death for something my parents or I had done in our lives. I started to compose a story and wrote it down as soon as first light came. I have not stopped writing stories since.



As I travel between restless sleep and dreams, I reflect on the last six years. The positives of writing a million draft words and creating structures for many story-books. The mind stimulation I enjoy in meeting other writers individually, in writer’s groups and at events and people in the book publication world. I also set up a web site for marketing my own writing and a local writing group.



I mull over my mixed feelings about devoting so much time during the last six years to the lonely activity of writing at the expense of keeping up to date with family administration, family relationships and maintenance of home, car and friendships.



I have a picture showing man’s ancestors coming out of the sea and rising to great stature only to sink back in bad postures in front of computers. My daughter says if I had not spent so much time in front of my computer I would not be in the state I am in today. I do not accept all her wise words and everything she says!



Although I have enjoyed the writing side of being a writer, the self-editing, publishing, marketing and other related tasks have proved less positive.



I dream of having many years to finish my books and to get involved in the hard world of publishing and marketing. I dream again of being a best selling writer and stalls on Reading Station full of my books and Ingram Spark distributing my books worldwide.



I wake up and in the cold light of day see my alarm clock showing 9.00am. Coldly I reflect on the reality of my current position. I have again like many previous nights been in bed for nine hours but only slept soundly for two at most. After getting up I can look forward to at most four hours of normal activity before a medication hangover catches up with me again for most of the afternoon when I often return to bed for more catch up sleep. Evenings are restless when my concentration levels are low - my normal bedtime reading for an hour or so is now down to more like ten minutes. TV is mostly unsatisfying and I will leave the decisions on the EU to my children who perhaps may not even vote.



A strange positive is my dreams are even more vivid than in the first five years of my writing career. When I wake at various times in the night, I scribble the scenes down. Then in the morning, I find I can write the stories up without reference to my notes. The act of scribbling seems to have fixed the content of the dreams in my mind and I quickly get on a roll. A good thing as the scribbling is usually hard to decipher.



I have travelled this path before in 2013 to 2015 but then I stopped taking  medication and soon felt my normal self and took natural substitutes. I said to my pharmacist I thought I was now taking serious and not optional medication and he said, “yes … you cannot stop taking these”.



When I exchanged e-mails with Jeffrey Archer in 2012 he said he was writing like mad before ill health over took him. Even though he is older than I am, he seems to be going strong while I may have fallen by the wayside.



A friend in his late sixties said to me he has made a list of things to do before he is 70. Based on my experience this seems a very good idea. I have been highly amused to peruse books listing 1000 things to read, view or travel to all over the world. The difficulty is that for the travelling one does need money that often only flows a little more freely later in life when it is too late. Perhaps children need to be given a list of a 1000 books to read when they are in their teens to stand any chance of reading a 1000, with new publishing substitutes, by the time they reach 70. I have probably read over 1000 books in my lifetime.



I am not too downcast, as I have managed to do most of the things I wanted to do in my life except those which are impractical or highly impossible. I have left my main character in my books, Henry Cross to do these – fly like a bird, play cricket for England, build a new house from scratch, travel in time, all with some spicy decadence … a la John Betjeman’s dying wishes.



My father died when he was 70 of exactly the condition I am suffering from so I am grateful for modern techniques and even the horrible medication in giving me some additional years. I have enjoyed a good family life, music, holidays and events. I look back with pleasure at having flown on Concorde, seen a SR71 Blackbird and a Lightning fighter flying. I have shared the powered glider controls of my now deceased friend who was very safe but I think may have been so concerned about losing his pilot’s licence he did not go to his doctor soon enough. I have sailed 10,000 nautical miles in all but one of the oceans of the world and travelled as a tourist around the world. I have driven a steam locomotive and travelled on the footplate of another as well as a diesel.



Faced with less time to devote to writing, some things have already gone or are going, any desire to publish, marketing, reading other people’s web and blog posts. Reading hard copy books is also much curtailed … so sorry Stephen King. On reflection, I have not read an e-book for well over a year and notice this may not be unique amongst readers. The slowness of my current reading is illustrated by my reading of a large volume of futuristic short stories by J G Ballard. All 1186 pages still only 82% through after a start in January. I would take this book to a desert island along with my eight discs - if I were ever asked.



Outside of keeping family life and friendships going, the one thing I want to do is to bring all my draft writing up to publishable standard but I fear this may be beyond me now unless I can work much smarter and stop raising the bar on standards. I will continue to beta read writing friend’s draft books, as this is mutually helpful to my own writing and theirs. If Mick is happy I will continue with this monthly post albeit it in less gloomy mode.



I may try to submit a couple of stories to competitions a year.



For those writers and others in good health and younger I would recommend based on my experience doing what you want to do in life and writing soon and do not put off.



New events and news outside my cocoon, which I have noticed, are:-



  • An HMRC attempt to tax adult colouring books as incomplete books. I did not realise that “incomplete books” are taxable. (Or, how one is defined.)
  • According to one book retailer, buying a book has become a means of reflecting our personalities as well as enjoying a good read. Ho, ho what’s new I ask?
  • Children are being bribed or incentivised to read by parents … surely this is doomed to failure. As one commentator said rather than being able to define a lower sub plu-perfect particular clause or similar in a Stats test, being introduced to the first pages of several classic and current books may be more interesting and effective and light a fire of lifetime reading in children.



I am not sure what will be in my next TIPM post. Probably reflections of my usual annual time in France if we are both in good enough shape to travel - by the time I plan to go.



Douglas Burcham started writing on 1 June 2010 and self-published under the Allrighters’ name a story-book 'Ywnwab!' in September 2013. A million words of draft writing reached completion in January 2014 split between 900,000 words of fiction and 100,000 words of non-fiction. The latter being about writing and memories of buildings, trains, boats and planes. Since then slow progress continues to be made in the conversion of the draft words into final books ready for possible publishing as story-books under the Allrighters’ name.

For past TIPM posts see - Last post 

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Leap Year Travel


To think I wrote this four years ago ...
 
Douglas wrote a shorter version of this story for the Daily Telegraph ‘Just Back’ short story competition in 2013. He did not win. Another version of the story is included in Ywnwab! his first book by the Allrighters’ published in September 2013.

Leap Year Travel a fantasy journey by Henry

 I am just back from the airport, standing at my front door, shivering in my new, warm-weather holiday clothes. I walk in and hear the cacophony of the house alarm. I think for the code 8532 or 8253? I press 8235 and all goes deathly still and quiet; I am home again, alone. My wife reached eighteen birthdays last year — yesterday to the day.

We are heading south — a familiar route. Our jet aircraft banks west and I see lakes and woods. Then we bank east and lose height very quickly, dropping in steps, as though in turbulence, air-frame banging, wings flapping. Down we go… fear rises as I see the terminal building to one side and we are still not down; a runway overshoot looms, so I tuck my feet under the seat, brace myself and close my eyes...“Please, God, no.” My prayer is answered, as with a huge roar, full jet power comes on again. The pilot, in a monotone robotic voice, says.

 “For safety, we are going around. We could not take the early landing slot. You will have a good view of Mont Blanc.”

 My peers converse in the seat behind.

“Scary.” I hear in a broken trembling voice. 

 Her male colleague makes a terse, sober reply. “Most unprofessional, failed to take the slot, he should not have tried, not even an apology for making us late.”

 I wholeheartedly agree. I feel my wife’s long, sensuous fingers holding my hand tight and draw my breath thinking of more intimacy later. Her magic still not dimmed by age.

 I change my watch for the hour time difference and worry about our train leaving in sixty minutes. We complete a circle, Mont Blanc is on the wrong side for me to see, and land smoothly all right second time around. We sit out of breath on the train to Brig. A comfortable hotel and good food await us. Cuddles and more at night and dawn in a net-curtained room, her still-perfect ivory skin caught moving in beams of new day sun.

The Glacier Express for Chur is not anywhere to be found in the main station. Departure is due in five minutes … we should not have dallied in bed. I start to panic … then see the narrow gauge track in the town square outside. We board, putting our bags in a luggage-van at the rear. We are off and soon mountain and valley scenery is running by, all grand and magnificent. At halfway the eating car is swapped from the westbound train. Lunch is adequate … poor exchange rate cost to be forgotten else troubling. Our train dives into gorges with fast-flowing rivers and is split into two before we reach Chur. When we reach Chur we find our two bags of luggage have gone to St Moritz.

  “Do not worry, dear, we are travelling on Swiss Railways.”

Even with communication in Swiss English I am not completely sure what I hope I have agreed with the helpful staff in the Chur platform signal station.

 We buy a shared toothbrush, paste and T-shirts and go to our hotel, enjoy rosti and steak followed by brief satisfying T-shirted sleep and more. 

At 8.00am we leave Chur’s large rail station and it’s yellow buses. The flanges squeal and the rack engages as we wind our way up the valley. The brochure picture of a red train going over a high viaduct into a mountain face with dark spirals inside is now real. Wow! — the reality is better than expectation. At St Moritz a miracle — by our carriage as it halts at our door stand our two bags on a trolley. Anxiety over Swiss English and Railways are now relieved.

We travel onwards, in fantasy, on the winter running Bernina Express over a snow-ploughed route through a high pass; then falling into warmer Italy, the snow soon disappears. We spiral around on rails and arches in another brochure picture and rattle through main streets to reach Torino for an enjoyable slow lunch, amble and a night’s rest in full night attire. Then to Milan and a coast train to cold Pisa. Few look at the amazing leaning tower. We enjoy a belated winter birthday celebration in front of roaring fires at the retreat and lots of good views while on rambles, both well wrapped up against the biting cold.

Of course all these delights took place last year. I am now going away again to somewhere warmer; booked specifically I stated to travel on the last day of February, alone. No cuddles this year unless my widow temptation fantasy matures.

I sigh; the queues for booking in are much longer than last year. I only have a single bag now. I eventually shuffle forward and reach the counter and the young lady with a name badge smiles; I feel a glow inside, she has a face similar to my daughter’s. Tracy Evans inspects my flight details and looks at me with a sad expression as though I might be her demented father.

  “Do you know the date today, sir?”

 I smile, my stress from queuing relaxed by her melodic, gentle Welsh accent. “Yes, my wife’s birthday — 29 February.”

She replies slowly. “I am sorry this year is not a leap year; it is 1 March today, St David’s Day.”

 Douglas started this story with an idea about the awful prospect of turning up at an airport a day late, which is a recurrent nightmare he has about travel. He thought then about leap years, added details of an actual flight to Switzerland where they overshot the runway in Geneva, another train journey where luggage was lost and put an overlay of loss of a dear partner to support the arrival a day late.

Of all his creative writing Douglas likes putting together short stories the most. Indeed his longer books under the Allrighters’ name are made up of many short stories linked together.

Open http://www.amazon.co.uk and search on Ywnwab! to find Kindle and paperback versions for sale.




Tuesday, 10 November 2015

November 2015 Reflections

Hello Everyone,

As the dark nights draw in we thought it about time to produce another post to confirm that our writing and reading for pleasure is still carrying on five and a half years after we started in June 2010. 

After completing our target of million draft words in January 2014 writing drifted into the marsh of self-editing and restructuring until June 2015 when a new start was made on finalising GEMINI. Changing tenses and using Auto Crit to improve the text allowed completion of a revised First Gemini Story-book which we are much happier about than previous drafts of the Gemini story.

Work started this month on the Second Gemini Story-book.

A recent distraction from this task came in the form of composing a 5000 word entry for the Bridport Prize in May 2016. The idea for this coming from a read of the anthology of the entries to the 2014 Bridport prize. We thought we could do no worse and probably better than the entries in 2014. Our previous competition entries produced mixed success largely we think because the thinking of the judges is not in tune with ours. We are making an attempt to narrow the gap and the entry will be an introduction to the strange fantasy life of Henry Cross, this time with his grand daughter Daisy. Writing the story to date is continuing to prove a delight.

Since June 2014 we have contributed posts to The Independent Publishing Magazine each month up to October under the heading Writing and Reading for Pleasure. Following changes at TIPM, perhaps a change of direction is necessary although we understand our contributions are still welcome. 

We are well on target this year to have read and reviewed over 100 books including two special readings of near final drafts of fellow self publishing authors.

Good reading and writing to you all.

Douglas and Alexander




Saturday, 30 May 2015

Further on round the bend



Monday 1 June 2015 is the fifth anniversary of the Allrighters starting to write. Our thanks to all those who have helped make the last five years an interesting and enjoyable time of writing, reading, web activity and limited publishing.



Our apologies for not posting a regular update on this blog since February. Our main web activity has been concentrated on a monthly web post on the TIPM web site under the "Writing and Reading for Pleasure" heading. Click for TIPM 



Our TIPM June post annouces a change in direction in a new push to complete our million draft words and publish as e books on Amazon. On reflection, we have been in the doldrums since completion of our million words in January 2014. Some rest and reflection has been no bad thing given the relentless daily writing between June 2010 and January 2014.



Reading activity has continued over a wide range of fiction and non fiction books.



We met up with Tony Riches in Wales two weeks ago and provided a content structure for a video he has constructed for Calvin Hedley’s book Turning-Point.





Good reading and writing to you all



Douglas and Alexander

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Maybe I have turned a corner?

After reducing my medication I feel much better and more my old self assisted by red wine and verboten foods in moderation. "But you will shorten your life by doing so." I hear the medics cry. Then I feel perhaps a shorter full life is better than a long half life? Time will tell. I have started to clear out, what a soul destroying task it is too ... but all those things I have kept and keep turning over will this time have to go. It is surprising how many rolls of drafting tape, sellotape and other rolls of carpet tape etc I have accumulated when consolidated into one box. First law of clearing out is to stop buying. 

Shame also about all those great writing thoughts I managed to note down but now I read the notes ... or those where I can read my writing and think "what was all that about?"

Good news more writing this last week the best for three months after reading Alice Orr's book on loan from the library.  No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript That Sells - Hardcover – 28 May 2004

Not that going the traditional publishing route is one for me at the moment. Some comments in the book inspired me after a three month gap to dust off LOOK - NO TOUCH and write a synopsis. Amazing, I recalled all my story I last touched last June and managed to bridge a few gaps and improve the story line. Then a new starting page ... not sure if it is any better than the last one but at least I am getting back into the creative writing and editing groove. I have read somewhere writers should take a rest from time to time and based on my experience I think it is good advice.

Also working away at draft TIPM monthly posts. The bookshops topic is proving interesting but time consuming. Drafting a post for March about the actual buying and purchasing decision process. For those who have battled rejection and finally got their book in hard copy in the book shops the last stage is critical ... getting your book picked up and purchased. 

I thought I saw a note on a blog somewhere this week that the UK book readership at nearly 3,000 people per million population is higher than most other countries. Waterstones have nearly a million titles on sale in their best sellers listing. So with a UK population of some 64m that makes c 21,000 readers ... no something is wrong here.

I see Jeffrey Archer's smiling face in the national press and his dulcet tones on radio so I know he has another book out and a bonus with an announcement about another two books to come in his current series. At 74 he is still writing all by pen and pencil so hope for me yet. For successful marketing look no further. I will ring the BBC when my next book is ready for sale ... "Douglas Burcham, The Allrighters who are you / they? We do not do interviews with unknowns." Perhaps I need to do something notorious to get well known and then publish a book.

I see and chuckle about a some sample sentences from extracts from eight books competing for the Folio Prize.

"Our house was taken away on the back of a truck one afternoon in the summer of 1979." 
Miriam Toews All My Puny Sorrows

I used to think that my father had been assigned to us by the government. This was because he appeared to serve no purpose."

Akhil Sharma Family Life


Good reading and writing to you all.

Douglas and Alexander

 

 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Update and Review of 2014 and aims for 2015



Being the 25th January it is appropriate to quote Robbie Burns – ‘The best laid plans of mice and men’  as amended by later authors.

In my case the last thing I expected in my planning for 2014 was to be seriously unwell from the end of November 2014. Nothing like this will happen to me I had assumed … oh dear. Well maybe this is an overstatement as the illness has not been the problem only the various side effects of seven pills to be taken per day afterwards. After taking no pills and poisons on a long term basis in my previous three score and ten years this has come as a shock to me and my systems. These gave me problems of being a zombie for far too much of my life during the last two months in not having either energy, inclination or clear mindedness to write much or live a life as before. All the red wine bottles also await a restart!

Hopefully I am now climbing out of the pit.

The highlights of 2014 were

  • Completion of a million draft words in January 2014 averaging 759 words a day since 1st June 2010. The major disappointment is how little physical space a million words takes up. Apparently William Shakespeare wrote just short of a million words. The million word target proved a very good method of writing and also a major distraction to being hung up on publishing. I commend having a stiff target to new writers after they make a start - my first rule of writing

  • After starting down a path of editing and converting my draft words into 18,000 word novellas at a rate of one per week I found this lacked the same spontaneity as clean sheet creative writing. Editing and restructuring and also filling in gaps for later is proving a painful process. The weekly target has not been achieved.

  • Being able to make a regular monthly post on Mick Rooney’s TIPM web site.

  • Finding editing software – the original version of Autocrit being great to use. Unfortunately, this version has now been discontinued and I am looking for others to use.


  • Continued contact with fellow writing travellers - Tony Riches, Mary Tod and Calvin Hedley. Reading draft copies of Warwick and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham by Tony and Turning Point by Calvin and making comments were a special bonus. Tony has sold very well with his e book versions.

  • Attending the Matador Self Publishing Conference and CPI Printers Experience Day were very interesting and also following these up with TIPM reports.  I followed the latter up with the visit to a local modern Litho press owned by a friend.

  • A major step forward was a decision to proceed from the spring of 2014 under the overall aim of Writing and Reading for Pleasure which has taken all pressure of publishing more off my back. This is not to say I will never publish anything more.

  • An unpublished letter about HS2 being selected by the Daily Telegraph for their 2014 book selection which meant I have at least been published by independent selection of my writing, however small, and have published something in 2014.

  • 123 reviews were posted on Amazon of books read in 2014, and books read in previous years found while browsing my own bookshelves. Read many books both fiction and non fiction about the WW2 conflict with Japan. The Prisoner List the stand out non fiction book. On Fiction Life after Life by Kate Atkinson and The Silkworm by aka J K Rowling proved great reads. On semi fiction based on their strong technical backgrounds Regeneration by Pat Barker and The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

Plans for 2015

My life has changed and I will have to accept this. Whether I can return to something near the energy and mind clarity levels pre November 2014 remains to be seen. At least unlike my father who was dead within three months of a similar diagnosis I have been saved by modern technology. My writing aims for 2015 are as follows.

  • Keep improving the quality of what I write. I have realised that writing like learning to sail takes a long time and learning is endless.

  • l will carry on printing off and amending draft novella versions of the 60 odd books making up the million words and additional new creative words written post January 2014.

  • I will try and publish something in 2015

  • I hope I can continue posting on TIPM each month under the Writing and Reading for Pleasure banner.

  • Putting all my hard copies, paper cuttings and electronic files in some better order looks an overwhelming task but one which is necessary

May I wish all writers and readers a successful and productive year.

Douglas and Alexander and the other fantasy Allrighters