Sunday, 27 May 2012

Books, boobs and other bollocks.

Ahhhh PhoenixRisen, too long have I strayed! I think an update is in order.

It has been an eventful couple of weeks (isn't it strange how we always think nothing interesting happens but when it comes to it the 'Things to write about' checklist is extensive?) As of this morning 'Empire' is officially as ready as it will ever be for submission. The I's have been crossed and the T's dotted and I've asked myself all the questions that needed asking. 'Should that apostrophe be there? Are there too many verbs in that sentence? Is that even a word? Does this even make sense!!!' Yes, they have all been asked and asked again! The submission letter and synopsis honestly took up weeks of my life!

Its peculair that I find it so easy to write imaginatively but when it comes to producing a couple of hundred words that state fact! My brain shrivels up and my fingers refuse to comprehend my meaning. It is only through the unwavering kindness of a couple of literary folks I know that the finished articles came to resemble a submission letter and opposed to the almost incoherent ramblings of an enthusiastic storyteller as they were in their initial format.

Thank you! To those who know who they are.

For those who don't know what a synopsis is, imagine writing a book, 97,000 words in length. And having to summarise it in less than 500 words with no twists, turns or surprises. For someone who is used to writing in detail and dramatically this is the hurdle at which they fall. I certainly did for my first novel, but with the help of the afore mentioned Saint's, book two stands a much better shot than book one did!

Now I know I promised a long and lengthy update about my boobs. Well boob. And its not even really a boob, it's more a pec...or the lack of one, but thats neither here nor there the fact is I was getting a breast implant. Note the operative word 'was'.

I was due to go in for surgery last Thursday to get a muscle from my back implanted into my chest to even out the fact I was born without the pectorial muscle on that side. It was all planned, the wheels were set in motion in November of last year.

The bag was overloaded with Lucozade and clean boxers (for the sake of the nurses I left the ones with the clever wordplay out.) I went in on the Wednesday at 2pm as advised...I sat in admittions for three hours...and then was told the surgeon was off sick - operation postponed - go home.

Now. This will be my 13th/14th surgery (i've lost count). And I will never criticise the NHS, the care and compassion I have received before during and after surgery is astounding...but a heads up would have been nice.

I dont mind the operation being postponed. Its more the mental state that you put yourself into when your doing something like this. Weeks of anticipation, in truth the operation is the easy part (I effectively go to sleep and flirt with nurses, pretty much sums up my time in hospital), it's the recovery that's tough. So all that stressing for nothing, well until it's re-scheduled.

As much as I am loathed to admit  it, I have been neglecting the piano. Don't get me wrong, the intention is there, I've printed off hundreds of sheet music...but not actually got round to learning it. The thought is there though, it is on the to do list.

I have been playing alot of MTG, the new format is pretty addictive and its alot of fun - really need to make a point of getting up to Spellbound again to do some real life drafting.

Does anyone else love Game of Thrones?

George R.R Martins books are phenomenal - on a par with R.E.Feist (and from me thats saying something!) I recently discovered the TV series (by recent I mean this morning) and have watched quite a few episodes (by a few I mean season one!) It's great!

For those who know me, I really dont watch television - at all. I watch question time on occasion, and when Jonathan Ross is on I will watch that. Most people find it strange that I don't know what's going on in Eastenders, or what the hell 'on it like a car bonnet' is referring to. But then most people think that Scots eat battered Mars bars and chase haggis about the hills with nets. And they think i'm strange. Hah!

I have started a new position in work, I am now the guy that makes the tea, for the guy that makes the coffee. Its looking up! But in all seriousness, the new job is not too bad - less stress, no weekends, sensible hours, less pay....but it does mean I can attend more writers groups and maybe an evening class in medicine if I ever get around to it.

Anyways, consider yourself up to scratch!

(Camping trip in Campbell town next week - should be intresting *cough* unbloody likely *cough*)

Stay tuned folks!

Dare to dream!


Tuesday, 1 May 2012


It's funny the things we take our inspiration from. Some people seem to have this boundless energy and this limitless supply of creative passion that fuels them towards their goals, other people sit back on their laurels and watch the world go by. Today I was definitely the latter of the two...

...then tonight, BAM! This sudden urge to write, to draw, to play music. Having enough experience to know that rushes of enthusiasm like this are not to be knocked I grabbed a pen and started drafting storyline and sub plots for Empire book 3 (Yes I know ive only just sent books 1 and 2 away but like I said, dont knock the rush!)

It was only after I had spent a very productive two hours that I began to wonder where it had came from, this sudden desire to do something other than nothing. That strange impulse when I know im going to be in the zone, when the writing and the music has me Spellbound - then it hit me. Spellbound.

For those who don't know, I am hands down, the biggest fantasy geek I know (quite possibly the biggest one you know too!). From LOTR to FF7, D&D to WoW, Feist to Pratchett I love it ALL. Anything where someone can let their minds run riot, where impossibility is just impossible, where reality and dreams merge and swell encouraging people to think outside the box and challenge the conventional way of thinking that is 'The Norm' is 'A' ok in my book. And fantasy allows for just that, a release from reality and escape into a world of possibility.

A long time ago, in a shop far far away ( was actually in Anniesland, and I think its still there...but it does sun tans now. Well I use the words 'sun tan' very loosely because I think people tend to look more like Oompah Lumpah's but that is going off on a tangent...) Now where was I? Oh yeah, Arena Games.

My uncle was, and I would imagine still is a fan of lord of the rings, and when the movies came out so did a card game which I was instantly hooked on (though not very good at.) It involved compiling resources, casting spells, killing Balrog's etc etc. And eventually the card game led me to Arena Games where I discovererd several things:

1) I am not the only fantasy geek I know (there are actually lots of us, so be warned...we're coming up!)
2) There were adults with imaginations too (I was young at the time and TBH, thought grown ups were boring old farts, in some cases I wasnt wrong :P)
3) Most importantly, or rather, most enjoyably I discovered MTG. Or Magic The Gathering for those not cool enough to know the TCG lingo.

For years I played this game, up and down the country we travelled. Team Poch'l FTW. It was similar to Lord of the Rings but it took fantasy to a whole new level. I genuinely believe that MTG has influenced me in alot of ways with regards to my fantasy writing, and that Arena games played a role in me meeting other people interested in the genre. And then the shop shut, and I stopped playing.

A little over a fortnight ago I was on one of my many YouTube binges and was in the process of hitting the 'Skip this ad now' button when I noticed it was for MTG Online. Given that I was off, and bored and i had already watched the video where the dog attacks the printer I decided to download the online version and see how it went.

To cut a long story short, I pretty much lost a week of my life between catching up with all the new rules and MENTAL combinations that people are running. It did however spark my desire to play again and I ran a search and found a pre-release in Pollokshields East. Loaded the FB page to find it was run by Joao Madeira, a former Team Poch'l Deck Tech legend and regular at Arena games, and I pre-registered.

I had a great weekend. It turns out that Joao has been running this for almost a decade, catering to all sorts of niches within the fantasy market. More than just the fact that the tournament was well run, there was a genuine sense of 'belonging' within the building. Joao knew everyone by name and laughed and joked with them constantly. I later discovered that after almost ten years of running this facility that Joao is opening up a shop. Hes taking a risk, following a dream...grabbing life (pardon my french) by the balls! And so Spellbound Games is born.

So after all my pondering about what sparked my own enthusiasm, it came down to this. Seeing someone take a shot at one of their dreams, encouraged me to keep at one of mine.

It goes to show that sometimes the best thing for our own ambitions, is to see someone else achieving theirs.

All the best to Joao and his new business venture. I for one will be at the store drafting MTG as often as I can.

If you want to visit the man (minus the dreadlocks) the new shop is at:

82 Bowman Street, Glasgow, G42 8LF (2 mins away from Queens Park Station)

Ill definitely be hitting the shop on the 20th (after my *cough* boob job *cough* which there will be another update about at the weekend)

But for now,
Peace out,

Keep on dreaming folks!