Friday, 30 November 2012

Trying to keep busy

So here I was once again as usual hanging around for others to reply. It was now the depths of winter in early 2012 and I found I was starting to get bored. I had my voluntary work which kept me busy for a few hours, two days a week. The fundraising campaign I had joined to help build a disabled toilet block had been more successful than we could have dared hope for, and the money had been raised to start the building work as soon as the weather permitted.

When I resigned from my job the previous year I had given myself the target of two years. Two years in which to finish the story and get it published. Two years was all my life savings would stretch to (although this was more in hope than substance) and after this I would be forced to return to the daily slog of the wage slave.

I did for a moment (a very fleeting moment) think of going back to work to earn some much needed money. I didn’t want to take this route, but my dear wife had started to nag. Having me under her feet all day was starting drive her crazy and the odd disagreement soon flared up into a major argument over nothing.

I had expected the opposite. I had visions of being able to take a more direct interest in the family and help even more with the daily routine of home living, but I was wrong. The thought of having the freedom to jump into bed and make love at a moment’s notice had been in my day dreams, but, and it was a big but, the opposite was true.

I once read that when the car maker Volkswagen was going through a slow patch and put its German factory workers on extended leave the divorce rate among its staff doubled during this period, and I could see why!

No, it was no good, if I wanted my marriage to make it to the spring I would have to do something to get me out of the house, even if it was just for a few hours a day.

I had the solution!

I had been battling against chronic back pain for nearly a year and had decided not to go under the knife. I had been paying to see a Chiropractor and had also battled against addiction to over the counter pain killers.

Now I knew what I needed to do.

I had started back up the gym after six months off, just for twenty minutes, two days a week and it had made a big difference to my pain levels. Now I was going to go every day Monday to Friday for at least an hour, and at the same time would give up the pain killers totally.

Would it work? Would my back improve? Would I finally get off the pain killers?

Only time would tell.  

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

What next

I had now finished another re-draft. Surely this must be the final product? Surely now I had a good enough manuscript to entice some company to sign me up?

I had approached agents the first time around hoping to get one to sign me up as I thought this would be a quicker route to getting a publishing deal. I was wrong because my first proof (now looking back) was not good enough. Now I had lost count of the redrafts I had completed, but was confident that this time I had a better story to entice the publishing world.

This time I decided to bypass the agents and try my hand by going direct to publishers. It’s harder than you think. It’s easy to find the contact details of hundreds of companies around the world, but very few will accept any unsolicited manuscripts. In fact some are so blunt with the truth they basically say, “if you send us a story don’t bother because it will go straight into the bin.”

I spent the week looking on the internet. First I would find lists of publishers then individually check their web site for details. Time and time again they said, “We do not accept manuscripts.”  Slowly I found a small amount of companies in this country which would take them for consideration.

I bit the bullet and sent off my treasured piece of work to a select hand full, and then once again there I was, just-hanging-around, waiting for an answer,

What would happen?

Monday, 26 November 2012

Joker's Monday (Egypt)

Normally on a Monday I try to lighten the Monday blues with a joke or two, but this week I can’t even muster one up.

The events in Egypt with the leaders grab for power is just so sad after all the hope that was generated through the Arab spring uprisings.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

“I need these powers to protect the people and their revolution.”  This same sentence has been used from Lennon in Russia, to Hitler in Germany, through to Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

They all had the same outcome, Dictatorship, and I have the same feeling it will happen in Egypt!

I do hope I am proved wrong.

It seems all the countries involved in the Arab spring are heading the same way which is such a shame after so many brave people found their voice, and ultimately their united strength in demanding freedom.

My heart sinks so I will save the jokes for next Monday as we head into a new week, and I carry on with journey to publication.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Cut then cut again

I had to cut nearly 30,000 words from my manuscript on the advice of the editor’s report.

Where do I start?

I was worried that if I made all these cuts I would end up losing the story line, but I had no choice I had to follow my instinct, and hope that it would work out in the end. I re-read the story from start to finish (for about the tenth time) and decided the best way of doing it was to lose whole chapters at a time.

I cut three chapters out then realized they could reused again in any future sequels that I hoped would follow once my first published book had been a success.

The next stage was to cut whole segments out of another three chapters. After this I had cut 15,000 words in a stroke. I re-read the whole story once again and I must say it made a major improvement to the flow of the manuscript.

The book had suddenly become more exciting as the chapters that had been cut were there more for explanation than for excitement. In fact the more I cut the more I found the story developed. The story lines became focused on the characters and the dribble disappeared from each page.

The saying “less is more” became so true. The less there was the more the story became an action packed thriller.

In the end I was down to 70,000 words.

I next concentrated on the second recommendation which was to beef up the lead male character. I have three main people in my story, a young man and girl, plus an old lady and I wanted both the youngsters to be equals. I had unwittingly made the female more dominant and the male to impish. I had two choices; one was to make the female more girly, or secondly to make the male manlier.

The editor liked the female character a lot so I decided to leave her how she was and to beef up the male.
I let my imagination rip with manly zeal.  He was no longer a boy but a young man full of youthful hormones and with balls too.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Report

I waited with baited breath, and I waited, and then I waited some more. Finally it popped through my letter box! It was the editor’s report which I had commissioned from the online writers service. I had used this company because they were cheap. There are many different companies on the net offering the earth and just as many who will rip you off.

It’s always a gamble when you use an unknown company and even more so when all they have is an online presence. I took the gamble half expecting never to see any value for my money. Nobody wants to lose fifty quid, but it was a risk I needed to take because I needed some professional advice on where I was going wrong.

I opened the A4 envelope as I sat down. I pulled out two sheets of A4 paper and started to read. It was short and not very sweat, hard hitting, but truthful. A first I felt dejected so what does one do in this type of situation? I made myself a cup of tea.

I read the report a second time over a steaming mug. This time I started to feel more confident because I realised that if I made some of the basic changes as recommended then I would turn what was a good manuscript into a fantastic story.

The most basic recommendation was to shorten my story. My first draft was 112,000 words long. My second draft I shortened to 96,000, and then the third to 90,000 to enter various competitions. The report stated I should reduce it down to about 60,000 words which were suitable for my target market.

The second recommendation was to beef up the main male character in the story. I don’t know who the person was that wrote the report, the only thing I knew was it was a women. As she stated, ‘sometimes the male character sounds feeble to the point where I want to throttle him.”

These two bits of advice were to change the whole shape of my manuscript as I embarked on let another redraft.  

Monday, 19 November 2012

Joker's Monday (war)


War what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

Words from a Tom Jones song sung decades ago. The words had meaning then and they still do now, but we still are not listening.

Once again there is fighting in the Middle East with the same old arguments being sorted out in the same old way with the same devastating results, and getting nowhere fast.

Negative actions lead to negative events. Positive actions lead to positive events. It’s as basic as that that. Hate brings war, love brings peace, and it’s as basic as that.

Nothing changes except for my Monday Joke so here is one for today to bring a little piece of humour.


A man and his wife were driving home one cold night when the wife asks her husband to stop the car. There was a baby badger lying at the side of the road, and she got out to see if it was still alive. It was and she said to her husband. “It’s nearly frozen to death, can we take it with us, get it warm, and then it go in the morning?”

He says, “O.K, get in the car with it.”

“Where shall I put it to keep it warm?” asks the wife.

He says, “Put it in between your legs. It’s nice and warm there”.

Giggling she asks, “But what about the smell”.

He replies, “Just hold his little nose”.
If you have any jokes to share then feel to email them to .

Friday, 16 November 2012

Spring is on its way

Always-hanging-around, I found myself as usual waiting for someone else as I waited for my first editor’s report. Helping to raise the money for the new toilet block was stressful, but the donations raised from my appeal letter were the first positive thing to happen to me in months.

The other thing which was slowly going in a positive direction was the gradual improvement with my spinal injury which I had now been suffering from for nearly a year. I had to cut down on my visits to the chiropractor to one visit every two weeks because I just couldn’t afford any more. I had also cut down very slowly on the over-counter pain killers I had nearly got hooked on, plus I was back at the gym, slowly increasing the speed and distance that my back could handle on the running machine.

Although I had only ever known setbacks with trying to become a published author I had one other thing to look forward to, and that was that lovely season of the year called spring time.

The winter months had passed quicker than I had expected and now spring was just around the corner.

I had now given up on finding an agent, and decided to enter some more competitions and looked at what the next stage on my journey should be. I knew that once I had my editor’s report back I would have to start on another rewrite of my manuscript, and that this would keep me busy for the next couple of months. Until then I just had to hang around.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Letter

Here I was once again into 2012 and as always just hanging around as I waited for the editor’s report I had commissioned from the Writer’s service.

I always try to keep to a routine and as my circumstances changed so did my routine. I had no more writing to do at the present time, but I did have some charity work to do. I had joined the finance committee of a very small local charity. They had this project that had been sitting on the drawing board for the last few years, and was going nowhere fast. It was a new disabled toilet block. My presence must have stirred their spirits because the main board agreed to finally go ahead with the fund raising that would be required to pay for it. At the same time they gave the go ahead to start building the toilets, so basically we had nine months to raise the money needed to pay for it.

I volunteered to help in raising the money by writing an official appeal letter. I had no idea how to do it, so what did I do? I researched, I took in other people’s advice and after eight weeks it was sent out. That was eight weeks of hard work.

In business when you are the boss, you take in people’s comments on a subject, formulate a plan, and then expect those around you to carry out your instructions.

Writing this letter was more like being a politician.  Everyone had their own opinions, and genders, and I had to tread very carefully. Many different people I had to keep happy with meetings here and emails flying there. The letter was rewritten more times than my manuscript. I found it so stressful it felt as if I was back at work.

After eight weeks everyone seemed happy, the letter was finished and ready to go out to the members, and locals. Then at the last minute one of the key people involved in the project, without warning, suggested some changes. These were not small changes, but basically a major rewrite with his paws all over it.

I made an executive decision. The letter went out as it was and what a success it turned out to be. Within four weeks we had raised a third of the total money required to finish the disabled toilets.

Next I would have to turn my attention to my personal finances because they were in a poor state, with little money coming in I had to make major cut backs, even more than I had already made. Every penny of expenditure would have to be accounted for and a new simple rule entered into my life. If I didn’t have the money to pay for it then I couldn’t have it. It was as simple as that.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Joker's Monday (The Elections)

There were two potential changes of governments in the last week with the world’s two great super powers using different ways of doing it. The first, the American election involved a free vote for the population (and a couple of billion dollars) and the second, the Chinese election. The second didn’t coat a thing, except for the freedom of its citizens.

Every country uses different ways to get a government, and which either system they use some people will not be happy with it. What does make people happy?

That’s a hard question to answer. My desires are simple, probably similar to most others, a roof over my head, food on the table and money in your pocket, but most importantly of all is the love of my family and good friends to be with. If you have these then most people don’t really care who’s in control, just so long as the bosses don’t get in your way.

It may be a basic fact, but probably explains why we put up with so much from the boys at the top who strut about cocking things up in our name.

Never mind, it’s Monday again so below is a joke to cheer you up.


A teacher asks her class, “If there are five birds sitting on a fence and you shoot one of them, how many are left?”

She calls on little Tommy. He replies, “None, they will all fly off with the first gun shot.”

The teacher replies, “The correct answer is four, but I like your thinking.”

Then little Tommy says, “I have a question for you. There are three women sitting on a bench having ice cream: One is delicately licking the sides. The second is gobbling down the top and sucking the cone. The third is biting off the top of her ice cream. Which one is married?”

The teacher, blushing a great deal, replied, “Well I suppose the one that’s gobbled down the top and sucked the cone.”

To which Tommy replied, “The correct answer is the one with the wedding ring on, but I like your thinking.”


If you have any jokes you would like to share with the world then feel free to email them to me at .

Friday, 9 November 2012

Short and Sweat

Tonight’s blog is short and sweat.

Sweat. As followers you will know that I needed professional advice for my manuscript. I had scanned the internet for a suitable company and came across

It wasn’t some company owned by a big publishing house or media company; it was just a small collective of writers and editors trying to make a few quid on the side.

I took the gamble and paid upfront on my card for an editor’s report.

I expected to be ripped off.

For the next four weeks I was just-hanging-around, but then through the letter box I received an A4 envelope which inside had a simple two page summary of my manuscript.

It was advice which was to change the whole course of my story and which lead me to becoming published.

The writers services offer many different services and if you are an unknown or unpublished author then they are well worth using.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

What a terrible day

After the Christmas and New Year celebrations I was looking forward with great hope to making progress on becoming a published author. Then my dreams seemed to fall apart on one terrible day.

It started off when I didn’t receive an email. The first major competition I had entered would be proclaiming its first stage of successful entries. I was convinced I would get through this first stage although I hadn’t kept strictly to all the entry rules. I thought they would like the story so much they might turn a blind eye. How wrong was I. There was no well-done email and when I checked their web page I was not named.

To make things worse the postmen shoved a white A4 envelope with my own hand writing on it through my letter box. I knew it was a reply from an agent I had approached and hoped it would cheer me up. Wrong again. It was another rejection and my day was going downhill fast.

Then the day turned from a bad day into a terrible day when I received a telephone call. I hoped it would be from the competition people saying they had made a mistake, and that I was through to the next round. Or it could be from an agent wanting to snap me up! Wrong again for the third time, the call was from the garage where my car had been in for repairs. When I say repairs they could have built a new one for the price they wanted to charge. Didn’t the garage know I was not in paid employment anymore and I was living on the edge of poverty? I didn’t have the money and was now using up my savings quickly.

I knew that the agents I had approached and competitions I had entered had only seen my first manuscript, and I had now completed three redrafts, each time improving on the first, but all the rejections pointed me in the same direction. I needed a professional view of my story and this would cost me, but I had no choice. I could keep on entering every competition in the world and approach every agent and publishers there are, but it would do no good until I knew where I was going wrong.

Where could I get this type of help?

That’s for Friday’s blog.  

Monday, 5 November 2012

Joker's Monday (Sandy)

No matter how bad a Monday morning may make one feel we should be grateful. There is always somebody out there who at that present moment will be experiencing something more dreadful than just the Monday blues.

So it must be for the poor souls who had to deal with Hurricane Sandy as it spun its way through the Caribbean and the east coast of America.

People will have been waking up for the last few days with no homes, no possessions, and in some dreadful cases no loved ones.

A lot of people will say it’s a sign of global warming that it’s all man kinds fault, he started it. Balderdash, the planet has been warming up and freezing down since it was first formed billions of years ago as small dust particles clumped together by the force of gravity.

Don’t get me wrong, our actions are helping to speed things up when it comes to global warming, but nature if given enough time will adapt, will survive. This is the scary bit, a lot of creatures will not be able to adapt in time and will go extinct.

We as humans shouldn’t be so smug. It took thirty thousand years from when our species first started to stand up before they then discovered fire. It took another twenty thousand years from the first fire until we discovered how to farm the land. It took ten thousand years to get from basic farming to the present.

Sixty thousand years it took humanity to adapt to the mildly changing climates of this period. This time we aren’t even going to get five hundred years, it could be fifty at best!

The first age of this planet was the age of water when only sea living creatures survived on this barren planet. The next age was dominated by the reptiles as the dinosaur’s ruled, and the third age was the age of the mammal in which humans came to rule the world.

I wonder if in sixty thousand years’ time there will be a forth age, the age of the invertebrates?

The Scorpions ruling over the hardworking ants living of their labour, while the spiders ponder how unfair it all is as they weave intricate webs of deceit! Now that could make an interesting story?

Anyway, here are some interesting questions to lighten the day.



Why can superman stop a bullet with his chest, but always has to duck when someone throws the gun at him?

Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?

Why if work is so terrific do you have to be paid to do it?

Why don’t cannibals eat clowns? (Because they taste funny.)

Why do they sterilize needles for lethal injections?

Why don’t they just make mouse-flavoured cat food?

Why is a carrot more orange than an orange?

Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Why do we wash bath towels? Aren’t we clean when we use them?

Why do we wait until the pig is dead to cure it.   

Friday, 2 November 2012


As I explained in Wednesday’s chapter I had been plagued by debt collectors after money that was owed by the previous owner of my home. He was still using my address to obtain new credit even after he had been made bankrupt.

I had tried everything possible to stop it. I had informed the police, I had informed various government run fraud agencies (and it cost me my own money to register this information?) I had contacted all the companies that kept sending threatening letters to my home demanding payment, but to no avail. I spent hours on the phone, writing letters, sending emails, but none of them seemed that bothered that there was a fraudster out there taking their money.

He was being clever, always using a slight variation of his name, plus I kept getting demands in his wife’s name as well. Thousands on credit cards and car finance, she was in it as much as he was.

When I had run out of options I didn’t know what to do next. I did think of trying to track him down myself and face him man to man, to see if I could get him to stop using my address.

Where could I start?

I knew!

It could be a long shot but I logged onto the internet, and summered up Facebook.

I typed his name into the search box and within seconds a long list of people appeared on the screen, and there at the very top was my man. I knew it was him because in his picture box was a photo of him sitting in my back garden.

I typed in his wife’s name and once again, like magic, she appeared at the top of the list with her face brimming at me.

Both their pages where open to all to join and I started to scroll down. What a pair of bare-faced liars. The wife wrote about how great her life was etc. There was no mention that her husband was bankrupt and a fraud, that they had both been evicted from their home, and that she was running away from more debts on her credit cards than the Greek Government.

The anger was bubbling up inside of me like a witches’ cauldron and I felt the urge for a good stir. I was going to post an open letter onto both their pages so the whole world, and their friends could see them for what they really where.

This is basically what I posted on their pages.

Dear Mr and Mrs so and so, or should I call you by one of the different names you have used between yourselves to defraud hardworking and innocent people out of their money. I know since you have been made bankrupt and had your home reposed, that it will be hard to gain credit, but do you still have to keep using my new address to scam people. I have had contact with dozens of people who are now owed tens if not hundreds of thousands in unpaid credit to you two, and they keep turning up at my address because you lied to them.

Well I’ve had enough. I have reported you to the police, the national fraud unit and had this address registered for protection. If you try to get another penny, then the law will be paying you a visit.

Silence, that’s what followed. I never got another person knocking at my door; I never got any more threatening letters, occasionally we got junk mail in their name as company’s reactivated out of date mailing lists, but that was it. I sent back the mail with ‘not known at this address, evicted in 2010, return to sender and slowly they dried up as well (except for this Monday when one popped through my door, only two and half years after they had left.)

Public humiliation on Facebook! More effective than the law, and more powerful than any threat, just like in the middle ages when wrong doers were locked in the stocks, and rotten vegetables where thrown in their face.

Maybe we could stick some of those financiers who conned us all with fake promises and dreams into the stocks so we could piss on them or whatever. It wouldn’t get any of the money back, but believe me it can give you great satisfaction.