Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Just Because You Can....

I've been listening and watching some podcasts and video-podcasts recently. And there have been one or two which I visit regularly, keeping up with new episodes and remaining topical. But for the most part, I don't revisit them. Mostly because they are just not very good.

The ones I revisit don't have particularly high production values. In fact, there is very little in the way of production or post-production. They don't appear to have expensive equipment or anyone assisting them. Simply put, it's the quality of the content and the skills of the presenters/interviewers that draw me in.

Interviewing is a skill, and good interviewing techniques take practice. I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but I do have some radio experience, I majored in Drama at University, was a teacher for more than twenty years, spent several years as an investigator conducting interviews, and undertook Research Methods for my Postgraduate studies.

So let's be clear. There is an art to conducting interviews and presenting. You need to prepare, to have areas to cover (especially if the interviewee isn't forthcoming) as well as being prepared to shoot off on tangents if the interview leads into other interesting yet relevant areas. And yet I have seen and heard so many who cannot interview or present to save their lives.

I saw one particular interview where the subject was fascinating, with a great tale to tell, and yet the interviewer, who had no charisma, presence or technique, tried to revert everything back to their own experience and made it about them. (And believe me, it was dull)

I saw another where the presenters had all the equipment, expensive and high quality, but spent the first five minutes talking about connection issues as though no-one was listening.

Another where the two co-hosts thought they were hilarious, and laughed at all their in-jokes which the audience wouldn't have understood.

And the one where the interviewer obviously hadn't prepared and made vague generalised statements about the subject (and the interviewee was a specialist) which showed a general ignorance and lack of understanding. They did have a marketable gimmick, though.

Oh dear, the list goes on.

It's all too easy these days, isn't it? Anyone can throw a podcast onto a streaming service, or a video up on a channel in YouTube. Anyone can claim to be an expert, and it appears many can build a following without actually being any good.

Which reminds me. There is also an art id being an audience member and using your discernment.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

God Save the Queen!

The Queen's jubilee weekend has just finished with a number of events across the UK. Much of it was televised, and I didn't see any of it. Well, except for that one YouTube clip where a UFO seemed to fly across the path of an Air Force flyover just as they passed. But surely that doesn't really count.

There were some local events, including a tea party in the village hall. I was supposed to go, but decided not to at the last minute. We were told the hall was limited to 150 people due to regulations, and another 100 would be seated outside. The weather, however, was pretty awful and so the organisers (who did a fine job, I've been told) decided to squeeze all 250 people into the hall. I thought about it and was a little reluctant, partly because I'm not keen on crowds in this post-lockdown world and partly because there are vulnerable people around me. And so I declined.

I was invited to a neighbour's house for drinks and nibbles where I got to meet some other neighbours I hadn't yet met, had some great conversations, and generally had a really relaxed and enjoyable evening. I think a few of them have decided that I am a republican, (which I am for Australia, but not necessarily for the UK) as a couple of people made it clear they were going to toast the Queen but I didn't have to partake if I didn't want to. Maybe it's my Scottish/Australian background that screams that.

But I was happy to toast the Queen. Seventy years in a role you didn't plan on or want is no mean feat in anyone's book. And I think for the most part she has done a fine job under some very trying circumstances.

In other news, I have managed to secure a copy of the extremely limited Jubilee reissue of God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols) on coloured vinyl.


Thursday, May 26, 2022

And So We Wait

So I rewrote, proofread and sent that story off. And I haven't heard anything yet.

Back when I was a new writer, I sent off my first "real" submission, and after about three days watched my inbox anxiously. Oh, how naive I was.  That beast took seven months to come back to me. And even then it was a rejection. A personal one, but a rejection all the same. And seven months?  That was insane.

Still, the editor said fine things about my story, and I did rewrite it and sold it to an anthology. A couple of years later I saw this editor at a convention buying that anthology, and I laughed and told him that I always knew he would buy my story. We always got one well, and he chuckled at that one.

My current story is still out in the wild and still no word. I have subbed to this editor before. He usually only takes about two months but we're closing on three months as I write this and waiting is difficult. I have some confidence it will sell, although I never count on that happening. It would, however, be nice to have this story published.

Oh well, the waiting continues and continues. Tomorrow and the next day and the one after that - I'll be here checking my inbox.  

And as always, any publication details will be announced here

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Now Why Did They Do That?

Oh no! Someone unfriended me on Facebook!

Now I have no doubt that others have too. With a friend-list well into the hundreds, some of whom I don't know personally, it's likely I may not have noticed them. I don't know how long ago this person unfriended, although I think I interacted with them earlier this year.

We're not close, have only met a couple of times in person, but we share several interests. I always enjoy reading their posts, usually hit the like button, sometimes add a positive comment, and have very occasionally tagged them into a post I thought they would like - as they have with me.

Recently I realised I hadn't seen them in my newsfeed for a while, and I just figured it was the FB algorithms at work again. No matter, I searched for them and they weren't in my friend list. I searched for their homepage, and noticed we were no longer friends. Which kind of surprised me. And then I noticed all our mutual friends hadn't been unfriended. And that kind of bugged me a bit. 

And now I'm wondering if I did or said something wrong on my FB feed.

Or maybe they had a purge and I didn't make the cut.

Or maybe....

It has me wondering. What if one of us accidentally unfriended the other, or there was a FB glitch which did it? I have heard of this happening. What if they're sitting there wondering why I unfriended them?

Is there etiquette for this? Worry about it? Ignore it? Ask a mutual friend? Do you send a polite message asking?

Of course, there is then the concern that they're too polite to tell you the truth, claim it was an accident and reluctantly re-add you. Or worse, they tell you why they unfriended you.

I have been unfriended in the past - twice in purges of friend lists. And I know this as they both announced they would be running a purge prior to doing so. It was a little disappointing as I liked following their posts.

Interestingly, both these people later re-added me as friend. That pleased me greatly, but I did wonder why they did so. I'm not convinced it was my sparkling and charming personality that brought them back.

But it is what it is. And if you're reading this, I'll miss your posts.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

It's Hug A Puppy Year!

Life and work has been hectic recently - more than usual. Or maybe it just feels like it.

There's always something to do, and I do feel like I've been far busier than usual. I've been stripping wallpaper and prepping a couple of rooms for plastering and painting. Obviously home renovations and DIY take up some free time, but it's not really eating into my evenings much. I feel like I'm on top of my job, ahead in some projects, and yet work has felt much more hectic than normal. Everything just feels busy and tiring. I had Covid a month or so ago, perhaps the tiredness is a hangover from that.

Maybe it's the world. Maybe the craziness of the past couple of years, coupled with everything that's adding to it at the moment is just wearing and draining. Maybe we're being overloaded with negativity and bad news.

What we need are more things that make us happy. Things that bring us joy. For me, it's reading, listening to music and playing with my dog.

Everyone should spend ten minutes everyday lying on the grass and just cuddle a puppy. Works wonders for me!

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Andy Remic

I haven't been able to write this post for some time. I've wanted to, but just haven't been able to get the words down.

My friend, Andy Remic, passed away just over a month ago. It wasn't unexpected, although it was sooner than we'd thought.

It was a couple of coincidences that brought me into Andy's orbit. We shared several interests, and both loved writing. Andy, of course, was a well know SF and Fantasy writer with a string of credits to his name. I'm just a guy who sells the occasional short story. But Andy treated me like a peer. He not only taught me a great deal but asked my advice and opinion. Due to circumstances, Andy didn't write for a few years. But when he did return to writing, with a short story for Grimdark Magazine, I was thrilled when he asked me to crit it for him. I was really pleased he incorporated most of my suggestions.

We talked of collaborating on some fiction, but time got away from us. Andy started writing a script - I have the early draft here somewhere - and was planning to film a series of short films featuring us both. But in the past few years, Andy's focus was on film-making. He made a series of documentaries on the early days of computer games, mostly centred around the Spectrum, one of his great loves. Writing wasn't abandoned, though, as he had started writing another novel, incomplete at his passing.

We weren't able to see each other too often in the past couple of years, mostly due to the pandemic and especially with his vulnerability due to his medical conditions. We planned to catch up, but it was close to two years before I saw him one final time.

I was privileged and thrilled to be invited to his wedding a few months ago. I think like many people, I was surprised at his changed appearance and physicality due to his illness. We managed to grab 20 minutes to chat at the reception. And that was fantastic. We didn't speak about his illness at all, except when he mentioned his discomfort. We spoke about life, film, Philip K Dick, teaching and writing. And beyond his appearance, there was an even bigger change evident.

Andy was a straight-talker. He had no time for people who were dishonest or messed him around, and he could be quick to see red. There were a couple of times at conventions, for instance, where I'd have a quiet chat to try and calm him. And since I'd known Andy, there were certain events and people towards which he was angry.

But at his wedding he was the calmest, and most serene I'd ever seen him. He seemed accepting of much of what had happened to him. I sensed he had forgiven much and felt comfortable. He told me that he was progressing with his new novel, and that he was in the right headspace to be writing. He told me he was past the anger he had held. And he told me it was all due to his new wife, Linda.

I don't know Linda anywhere near as well as I knew Andy (and that wasn't anywhere near as well as I would have liked.) but I like her a lot. She was good for Andy, and I got the impression he was good for her. 

Andy told me how much Linda meant to him, that she was his rock and had eased the anger from inside him. He told me how special she was, and that he didn't know where he would be without her.

Don't get me wrong, he also spent time talking about his boys, how much they mean to him, and how proud he was of them. But when he was talking about Linda, it sounded almost as if she had saved him.

And my heart aches to see Linda going through all this.

Andy was my friend and my writing mentor. Just yesterday, my Facebook memory was:

Despite his nagging, just spent a fantastic afternoon in the company of Andy Remic. Talked books, writing, publishing and music amongst other topics.
Once again I leave feeling inspired and having learned so much.
Thanks, Andy.

Yeah, he always nagged me to write a novel - sometimes loudly and in front of other people. He always said good things about my words.

Tomorrow is his funeral, and although invited, I can't go for reasons beyond my control. And I'm absolutely gutted. I want to be there to remember, to celebrate his life, to mourn his untimely passing, to wish him Godspeed, and to be with others who feel the same way.

I'll be doing all that, but from the comfort of my home.

Farewell, Andy. Sleep well.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Back to Writing.

I've been working on a story.

True, it's a rewrite rather than a fresh story, but it's a major rewrite with restructures and plot changes. And a fairly interesting change to the ending. It's also writing - something I haven't done for enjoyment for a long while.

Most of my writing over the past few years has been academic in nature, as I undertook further studies. But that's now out of the way and I'm in the right place and space to be creative once more. I have this story I like. It's had some close calls, and last year I subbed it last minute to an anthology I wanted to be part of. They held it for a very long time, and it was only cut at the 11th hour. So eleventh hour that I woke up and saw the TOC in an announcement before I checked my emails to see the rejection.

It was a lovely rejection, and very positive, but disappointing, of course, as I had hoped to sell to this particular publisher.

Oh well.

But a month or so later I revisited this story, just to read it, and realised I had not sent the latest version. Also, it contained a few embarrassing errors.

But this story is now rewritten, and although I thought it was a fine piece before, I feel it is all the better now.

And so it's back into the internet to find a suitable market. I have a couple in mind. But before it goes anywhere, I'll wait a week and give it another read.

I mean, I wouldn't want to send out a story that contained too many mistakes now, would I?