Blog on the Bus pt 32 (did dentists dream about tooth fairies?)

Welcome to this morning’s early blog on the bus. Another week has passed and once more you find yourself tuning in for my latest silly mutterings (do you really have nothing better to do?)

It has been a busy week for me to be honest. Having seized the day (Blog on the Bus pt 30) on Monday and Tuesday last week, I managed to scribble some 13k words or so of my latest offering Dead Drop. Only 10k words left on that one so will hopefully finish within the next 7-10 days. Until you’ve poured your heart and soul into writing a novel, you’ll never appreciate the elation of typing that final full stop (think post-coital fireworks).

I’ve also been creating some book trailers and am pleased to have posted trailers for Integration, Remorse and Dead Drop to YouTube (worth a view if you’re not too busy).

So, onto the nature of this morning’s entry: “did dentists dream of being tooth-fairies?”Or “are we destined to be what we will be?”

I have spoken before about what we wanted to be when we were younger and whether we’ve reached our goals but I am now beginning to believe in the destiny of our life choices (sorry, I know you hate philosophy on a Monday but bear with me, won’t you?) The more I delve into the mysterious and oft terrifying world of book writing, the more I am beginning to believe it is part of my destiny (remember I am a cynic so don’t mistake this for arrogance). I plot my own works, I design my own book covers and I publish (paper and digital) in my spare time. Now I even design my own book trailers. I’m not saying I am “utterly amazing” at it but I’d challenge anyone who says I’m not getting better at it all (please note: I know some really big and hard men before you start to argue with me!)

I believe I’m living my destiny at the moment with my writing. Of course I could just as easily end up as a penniless writer as a successful one but with either outcome, at least I’m on the right road.

Can you say the same?

Someone hoping to follow their destiny as a successful (and well paid) proofreader is my good friend Jo Taylor. I met Jo through Twitter and she was kind enough to read and enjoy (her words, not mine!) my first book Integration. She is now 1 of the 4 proofreaders I use to challenge me and correct my spelling (I used to be so good at SPAG at school, not sure where it all went wrong). Jo has very reasonable rates if you happen to be looking for a proofreader and you can email her direct for a quote via joannetaylor63@hotmail.co.uk or through Twitter (@JoT63). She does proof reading for a living so is well worth a look!

That’s my plug done for the day (invoice is in the post Jo!)

So whatever your destiny is: rock star, paid assassin, benefits cheat (we don’t judge here) or bus driver, embrace the opportunities that life throws at you and don’t be afraid to try your hand at something new. You never know, you might just enjoy it!

It is that time again when the driver of this bus growls at me for talking absent-mindedly while tapping into this phone (must have reached our destination).

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen

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Blog on the Bus pt 31 (the devil is among us)

Hello again! Fancy that; both of us on this ridiculously early bus again. Whilst I’ve got you here, I was wondering who your least favourite person is? Before you start naming John, Paul, Rodney or Gladys what I’m looking for is the job profession you despise the most. Don’t pretend to be a pleasant, affable soul (we both know you’re not!) and tell me if it’s the estate agents, door to door utilities salesmen or (dare I say it…the bankers(we’re not all gits you know…in fact I know 1 or 2 who are quite charitable)?

Whoever it is, we’ve all got someone who makes our skin crawl. Whilst the 3 nominations above are all worthy candidates for Bastard of the Year 2013 (hoping the awards catch on and will one day be known as the Bastards), for me there can only be one winner…

recruitment agents (tell me you didn’t think I was going to say writers…we’re lovely!)

In my many dealings with the devil’s spawn, I have come to realise that this vermin that walks amongst us, driving their stupid cars that they pretend to own even though they only got it through hire-purchase like the rest of us, are scum! They strut about smiling, and pouring sweet words in our ears like tonics, lying to our faces like Oxbridge politicians. They want to be your best friend; they’ll chat to you about your family, your aspirations. They’ll tell you about their own fictitious families to make you believe they only have your best interests at heart and once you’ve agreed to let them represent you they contact the reluctant employer that they’ve managed to capture in their web.

When the employer realises the error of their ways and backs out of the contract they were made to sign in blood you won’t hear from the recruitment agent again. They board a stealth submarine away from all means of communication. It’s like they walk off the planet. You won’t be able to get hold of him. Phones and emails will go unanswered. It’s not like you can go to their office with a barrage of abuse to unleash because you don’t know what s/he looks like (even if you did have a photo it wouldn’t help as they can change appearance like a chameleon).

And then you’re left in limbo not knowing whether the employer was ever interested in your CV or whether it was all just a figment of your imagination (like a cruel episode of Dr Who).

The devil will of course return but he’ll have a different name and a new number and this time he’ll tell you he’s not like the others: he’ll support you throughout the process.

Don’t believe him: he’s the devil in disguise!

Oh, I can see the bus driver telling me to climb down from my soap box; we must have reached our destination. Thanks for listening. I’ll leave you with one thought for the day: who will you nominate for the bastards 2014?

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen

Blog on the Bus pt 30 (carrots help you see in the dark)

Good morning, fellow bus dweller. It’s a bit nippy on the ‘X4’ today I’m sure you’ll agree. The subject of this morning’s ramble is vegetables, or more precisely, carrots. I’m not referring to the type you find in sparkly jewellery (on a side note, never buy 9 and claim it’s 18 – she will catch you out one day!) nor am I literally referring to the small orange objects you might encounter your child pushing around the plate instead of eating them. I am of course referring to the metaphorical kind of carrot (too deep for a Monday morning?)

When I was away in Devon the other week, I met up with my uncle. He’s a retired naval commander and I swear he must be half-Irish, judging by the way he can spin a good yarn about his serving days (think Uncle Albert from OF&H but with interesting stories!). Anyway we were chatting about work (the ‘other’ job you understand, not this writing malarky) and life in general and he began to tell me this story (I won’t go into detail as we’d be here all day and I can see the bus driver tapping his watch already) where the moral of the tale was…

“A carrot is dangled before your eyes everyday; the wise man grabs the carrot and enjoys its richness; the fool doesn’t even see the carrot.’

The story is about seizing opportunities (I think anyway). Fast forward to yesterday, I spent a lovely day in London (it can be done) with my daughter’s Godparents and they were asking me questions about my book writing. I bored them with the detail (bless them for not yawning!) and then they asked me how the current project ‘Dead Drop‘ was progressing. I had to tell them the truth: that I’m still a month behind schedule and unlikely to meet my proposed June publication date. It was the first time I had acknowledged this reality. I’ve been telling myself that if I keep plugging away I’ll get there but the truth is I’m lying to myself.

What’s this got to do with carrots, right?

Well, I woke up at 5 this morning (only by chance – I’m not totally mental!) and rather than trying to get back to sleep before my 6 o’clock alarm would wake me again, I got up. And, rather than sneaking in a cheeky game of Football Manager (don’t pretend like you’ve never done it!) I walked the dog. And, rather than slobbing out in front of the TV I left home and caught this bus.

You see, my uncle’s story came back to me and like a eureka moment, while I was lying in bed, a giant metaphorical carrot in all it’s orange-glory appeared before my eyes: if I catch the 6.05 instead of the 6.55 bus, that’s an extra 50mins writing I could do this morning!

And so, here I am at this crazy time sharing this story with you.

Now, I wonder what carrot will present itself to you today and whether you’ll be wise enough to grab it?!

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen

Blog on the Bus pt 29 (where would I be?)

As I take my seat here on the ‘4A’ this morning, I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like had I not opened that Word document two and a half years ago and written “Chapter 1”. I certainly don’t think I would be desperately tapping away at my iPhone to get this blog written before I get kicked off! The idea of the blog only started as a way of passing the time on the journey to my other job (the one that does pay the mortgage and bills etc). However, it has now become a cathartic release; a place where my written ramblings can be more light-hearted than the dark nature of my stories. I swear the bus ride is getting quicker or my thumb tapping is getting slower as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to finish a post before the driver is ordering me to get off the bus so he can have a cigarette.

So where would I be?

I suppose still doing the other job, but probably doing more overtime. I’m sure I wouldn’t be on Twitter, and I’m certain I wouldn’t have a snazzy website or even a dedicated Facebook page.

I wouldn’t have experienced the sheer joy that losing yourself in your own imagination for a couple hours can bring; visiting people and places who bend to your will like slaves; to live in somebody else’s shoes for a portion of the day and to experience their views. I wouldn’t have endured hours of editing; rewriting words, passages and bits of text that make no sense whatsoever. I wouldn’t have learned how to use photo manipulation software to design my own book covers and I wouldn’t have suffered the humiliation of the dreaded publisher’s rejection letter.

I wouldn’t have felt elation when typing that final full stop of Integration and thinking ‘Wow, I did it!’. I wouldn’t have decided to take a chance and ignore the publishers’ advice and to publish the bloody thing anyway. I wouldn’t have decided to relive the same experience over and over again: Remorse, Redemption and Snatched

I wouldn’t have met (virtually, you understand) some fantastic indie authors struggling just as I do to share their work with the world and I certainly wouldn’t have spoken with some of the people kind enough to download my work and tell me how much they enjoyed it.

I’d still be on this bus…but I bet the journey would seem that bit longer and be that bit sadder.

If I could go back to September 2010 there is a ton of advice I’d give my younger self but none of it would be to stop trying.

Thanks for joining me this morning. I can see the driver glaring at me in the rear view mirror so I best go.

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen

Blog on the Bus pt 28 (a rest is as good as a change?)

Welcome back to the ‘X4’, Southampton’s premier bus service (they should be paying me commission!) I trust you are well? It’s been a couple of weeks since the last blog, I didn’t lose my hands in a tragic boating accident as some of you feared, but I have been away from the city. I’ve spent the last week in Brixham in Devon relaxing (although if the taxman asks, I was scouting locations for the setting of my next masterpiece).

It was a lovely rest and whilst I had hoped to plough on with Dead Drop, I was having too much fun with the family to write. I did manage to do typing one morning but only because I had woken at a silly time. Still, I’m 53k words in, so have finally crossed the halfway margin. It’s funny, this has been the most difficult project to complete to date, not because of the subject matter but because I’ve had so much else going on. I usually try to complete a first draft inside 3months but I’ve had to give myself till the end of April to finish (hence June as date of publication).

I have every intention of focusing on my writing over the coming weeks and will keep you posted on progress as I do.

I always try to make these blogs light-hearted or inspirational for other aspiring-authors out there who dare to dream that one day they’ll see their name in print. With that in mind here is a thought for the day:

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.

She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

“Oh my,” said the writer. “Let me see heaven now.”

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

“Wait a minute,” said the writer. “This is just as bad as hell!”

“Oh no, it’s not,” replied an unseen voice. “Here, your work gets published.”

On that merry note I bid you adieu and hope to catch you next time on the bus. Until next time, happy reading,

Stephen

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