Friday, 31 October 2008

Horrific Halloween

Well Happy just doesn't seem to ring right for a night of chills. We're stocked up on sugar, skeleton swinging in the wind outside the window and mini-rolls with blood filling lined up for later.

I'm now sitting here. Listening to a cat being strangled while it tap dances on an old church organ. Seems this is Tesco's idea of scary noises. Still I can't find the remote control for my scare machine I brought back from the States so it will have to do.

Not quite the same as I've seen State side this time of year. Best one was a friend's house with cobwebs all over and a 6ft tarantula clinging to the wall! Looked for one over here but no such luck so I'll have to get him to post one over. Wonder what customs will make of it.

Anyway. All ready and on Trick or Treat alert.

Have a bone chilling evening everyone.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Thought for the Day

Some of you may have noticed a couple of posts ago that I was invited to get in touch with BBC Radio Cumbria by Steve Greaves. Well I did and thought I'd let you know what happened. This is a bit of a long post but I thought I'd write it for those new to this like me.

Steve wondered if I would like to contribute to Thought for the Day. This is just a couple of minutes long and slips into the early commute slot. He suggested I thought about it like writing a letter to a newspaper. I said Okaly Dokaly. All right I didn't really do a Flanders impersonation or Dave would panic and divorce me.

Anyway he then asked how long would it take to produce five of them? Gulp.

Right five pieces, about a page each, plus think time. I reckoned a week. He then booked me in for recording a week later and they would start going out this week. Aaaaah. Deadlines. Not having done it before Steve suggested I sent him each one when completed so he could check if I was on track.

So all I had to think about was what to write about. This is an early time slot, about 07.40, so people would be crawling out of bed, munching soggy cornflakes or trapped in the car. Basically depressed about the oncoming day. Last thing they would want to hear would be someone boring or droning on about the world's woes. At least I wouldn't and I was writing it. So there.

Over two days I came up with a list of about ten topics. I found four of these pretty well wrote themselves while staying funny. In fact I could have kept going for quite some time on any of them but managed to pare them down to about a page. That was hard. No rambling and just one aspect of the topic. For someone who can chat two to the dozen I have to admit I struggled a bit.

Anyway Steve said they were great so I just had to produce one more. Six topics on my list so no problem. Only I'd start writing and they'd become heavy or preachy. Yuck. I couldn't be running out of steam all ready? At last I approached one from a different angle and it fell into place, flying out on that electric highway just before the deadline. Again it got the OK.

That left the recording. I'd never done that before and wasn't sure what would happen. Steve would be at the main station while I was at a satellite one and he said he'd talk me through it remotely but what if I hit a wrong button? Did I press buttons? What about those sliding things. I might spill a drink and ruin a deck. Basically could I be trusted in a recording studio on my own? I can break computers just by looking at them. (I'm currently working blindfold).

Then bad news. I got the dreaded lurgy. Neck like it had two chipmunks hidden in it. Throat like I'd been chewing Guatemalan peppers (Yep another Simpson's reference. Go look it up). Temperature going for 2000deg C. I couldn't even speak!

Lots of magic potions later and I could utter the odd croak again. So Dave ferried me to the studio. They did offer to reschedule several times when they realised the state I was in but I'd got there. I wanted to do it before my nerve broke.

So there I sat in the studio, fluids at hand but safely away from all electrics. Eyes glued to a meter. When it jumped that would mean Steve was on the other end and we'd be off. So I waited and waited. Turned out the newsreader had grabbed the studio at the other end and we had to wait. Hearing the broadcast going out, knowing I would be talking at the end, was nerve wracking. OK I wasn't going to go out live but I mean. My voice. Going on tape. (OK clever clogs it's a generation thing. I KNOW it isn't tape anymore)

Finally a flip of the meter and Steve was on. I crammed the headphones on my head and must have deafened him when I shouted "Steve? Is that you?" Well he was a long way away so I had to make sure he heard me. Things then got really surreal with him speaking, someone else speaking, me speaking and all echoing about like a good old 60s Dr Who effect.

A nice lady dived into the studio my end and pushed some sliders until it all sorted out. I hadn't touched anything. Honest. Steve did mention he had some Dr Who effects but they weren't handy so we did the rest unaugmented.

I then read out each piece while Steve recorded it. It was a bit tricky getting used to hearing myself in the headphones a split second after I spoke but I eventually got used to it. All I had to do was chat away and just repeat a line if I wasn't happy about it. I forgot that. Editing. There I was worrying my voice would give out before I got to the end when Steve could do magic computer stuff to glue the best bits together. Yeah.

Anyway I finished them all with regular encouragement from Steve. Thanks for that. The pieces will now go out over the next few weeks. Steve also asked me to be a regular contributor. Of course I said yes. It was great fun. And good writing practice too. Not only to get stuff written but keeping it concise. Good for those dreaded synopses.

So the first one went out on Monday. Continuing the Dr Who theme my cold made me sound like a Dalek but it wasn't too bad. Anyway why not find out if your local station does the same. They probably say on their websites. Give it a go. Good fun and good practice.

Sunday, 26 October 2008


Saw this psychoscribble doing the rounds so I thought I'd show my complete lack of talent in drawing. Especially when using the touchpad instead of a mouse.

You tend to pursue many different activities simultaneously.
When misfortune does happen, it doesn't actually dishearten you all that much.
You are a thoughtful and cautious person.
You like to think about your method, seeking to pursue your goal in the most effective way.
You like following the rules and being objective.
You are precise and meticulous, and like to evaluate decisions before making them.
You have a sunny, cheerful disposition.
Hmmmmm. Not sure about that diagnosis. Following the rules and a cheerful disposition really don't sound like me. Maybe I'm a multiple personality? Shut up. Don't think about it. I do not exist. This is just one of your characters talking.

I've really got to get those characters under control again.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Just a little update

I seem to have been a bit lax with posting and commenting recently. Sorry.

For those that do comment here you will notice I've had to switch security settings. As a vegetarian I took great offence at a slab of spam being deposited on my blog. I've scrubbed away with e-bleach and anointed with Eagh de Cabbage to take the smell of cadavers away so I hope all is better now. This does mean no more anonymous posts but I think I've only ever had one before this anyway.

Been incapacitated recently. Hobbling about like the witch in Sleeping Beauty (after her makeover to bag lady). This should have meant lots of time for writing but instead I finally installed Black and White on my laptop. These things are really addictive or is it just being an omni-powerful God. Yep I can live with that.

So I need to get my head down and some serious writing done. I have my first episode to finish in my Red Planet horror. In case I get that magic call or email. I know the odds are horrifying but I'm in glass half full mood at the moment. That's to make up for a summer of doom and gloom as I got a string or rejections.

My radio play is coming along nicely. The characters are bouncing off each other well. I have the overall story arc sorted and I'm just writing it out. Less structuring than I would do for a film or TV. I'm letting it wonder off on a tangent if it wants to and then I'll sort out what I like at the end.

I then plan to spend the winter working on some stageplay ideas and a novel I'd put on one side. Is it me or have others noticed a literary feel to bloggers efforts recently. Several working away at novels.

Mine has sat on the shelf for a couple of years. It is a horror again but for teenagers. I'd done the first four chapters and knew what was going to happen in each of the others to the end. Then I went back to it a couple of weeks ago. My full story arc. Hmmmm. More like up to the crisis and then running out of steam. I only have half a story! Got to sort out the rest.

And it has been ages since I've written any short stories. My excuse has been that there's not much of a market for them. I don't write great literary pieces for the more creative magazines or "I met my true love while cleaning out the bins" stuff for the women's weeklies. I just write stories with a dark edge. I think I need to do another market review to see if there's anywhere new to try and place them.

Hope you are all working hard and getting things out there.