Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zero Point!

Well it is Zero Point for this book because apparently people are already receiving their copies from Amazon! Don't forget to order your copy of Zero Point.

The billions of Zero Asset citizens of Earth are free from their sectors, free from the prospect of extermination from orbit, for Alan Saul has all but annihilated the Committee by dropping the Argus satellite laser network on it. The shepherds, spiderguns and razorbirds are somnolent, govnet is down and Inspectorate HQs are smoking craters. But power abhors a vacuum and, scrambling from the ruins, comes Serene Galahad. She must act before the remnants of Committee power are overrun by the masses. And she has the means.

Var Delex knows that Earth will eventually reach out to Antares Base and, because of her position under Chairman Messina, knows that the warship the Alexander is still available. An even more immediate problem is Argus Station hurtling towards the red planet, with whomever, or whatever trashed Earth still aboard. Var must maintain her grip on power and find a way for them all to survive.

As he firmly establishes his rule, Alan Saul delves into the secrets of Argus Station: the results of ghastly experiments in Humanoid Unit Development, a madman who may hold the keys to interstellar flight and research that might unlock eternity. But the agents of Earth are still determined to exact their vengeance, and they are closer to him than he knows...

Heading into August

Wednesday 25th July

After spending this morning checking through The Other Gun I’m now printing it off for Caroline to check and for me to check too, since often I’ll pick stuff up on hard copy I miss on the screen. It’s a fun story I think and I hope Sheila Williams of Asimov’s, who has agreed to take a look at it, enjoys it. I do wonder, however, if it might be too Polity slanted – there’s a lot of stuff in there perfectly understandable to those who have read my books, but it might be a bit confusing to those who haven’t. Whatever, I’ll send it along.

Next it’s back to Penny Royal II, which has now passed 9,000 words. I’m beginning to divide this up into chapters and have started a contents file, which thus far looks like this:

Chapter 1
Garrot jumps out-system
Sverl moves to intercept kamikaze
Spear decides to leave Masada
Kamikaze to destroy city
Garrot with PR observes battle in kingdom
Cvorn plotting

I’m not giving a lot away here since no-one but me has seen the book prior to this. For those of you who know my books there is, however, quite enough to tease you.

Thursday 26th July
Pickled onion time! At the end of March after we arrived here I paid a few Euros for a large bunch of seed onions, which I planted between rows of other vegetables in our front garden and in a large patch in the back garden. Once these got going they provided us with plenty of spring onions until recently when they started to go over. I ate a lot of them, which is why Caroline has taken to calling me ‘Mr Onions’. Now I’ve picked the remainder and have turned them into pickled onions. Next it will be the chilli sauce – I’m picking the first handfuls of chillies now.

Other things are doing well. Below you see the peaches on the tree I planted last year. I was earlier disappointed when the flowers fell off the pomegranate tree I also planted, however, it has now produced more and I’m hopeful we’ll be getting some fruit there too.

Friday 27th July
I see that Mitt Romney supposedly made a gaff criticising the Olympic Games. Then I saw that part of the interview concerned where he was asked about London’s readiness for them. He replied honestly about legitimate security concerns with G4S (let’s just remember who are most likely to be terrorist targets there), and concerns about immigration officers threatening to go on strike. Essentially, unlike other politicians I could mention, he didn’t slime his way out of it with some saccharin and placatory lies. Of course the mostly Democrat-supporting media of America jumped on this and blew it out of proportion, as did the Obama-worshipping BBC.

Here’s some pictures for Dean and Samantha. There might not be a beach when you arrive:

Saturday 28th July
Caroline wanted to watch the Olympics opening ceremony so stayed up until 11.00 (here) faithfully watching BBC World. I mean, it’s the British Broadcasting Corporation and this is a major British event. It’s also a world event so surely that’s a slam dunk in BBC World territory? There was a build-up in a studio which, as they repeatedly told us, was ‘actually overlooking’ it all. And what did we get? Some camera shots of crowds, an interview outside with a visiting Pakistani family, then just talk in the studio. They never actually showed the opening ceremony and Caroline had to go to Greek TV where it was shown in all its glory, and is still being shown today. I guess kids singing ‘England’s green and pleasant land’, Kenneth Branagh dressed in top hat and tails quoting Shakespeare and then the ensuing Danny Boyle celebration of the British past just wasn’t sufficiently ridden with liberal guilt, and inclusive, multicultural and diverse enough for the tossers at BBC World. Really, the BBC is a dinosaur sorely in need of Bradbury’s ‘Sound of Thunder’.

Monday 30th July
Damn, the Meltemi arrived on Saturday and is still here this morning (despite the weather forecast saying otherwise). This is a blasting North wind that wakes us up in the middle of the night and in the early hours of the morning because really it’s just too hot here to close the windows. It sounds malevolent and tetchy as it probes around the house, then chucks garden furniture about, and anything else loose outside, slams shutters about if they come loose, irritatingly keeps flipping our letter box and rips apart and blast-dries plants. I really wish it would go away now.

Because of this wind and because of the weekend Greek occupation of the beach down in Makrigialos we stayed inside our house for the last two days. I took the opportunity to read some more stuff on my Kindle, finishing ‘The Second Science Fiction Megapack’ (ed. Robert Silverberg) and moving onto a third (ed. Philip K Dick). There are plenty of enjoyable stories in these and plenty to laugh at too. I had a particular chuckle at one called ‘Revolution’ by Mack Reynolds – a story about a spy being sent to foment rebellion in the USSR because the communist regime with its ‘seven year plan’ had exceeded American production, everyone there was living a better life than in the US and because so many countries were following the USSR’s lead that communism was about to take over the world. I’ve still yet to make up my mind whether this was a story resulting from Cold War paranoia or wishful thinking on the part of one of the usual leftbots that have occupied the science fiction world from year dot.

Noticeable too is the New wave obsession with ‘soft sciences’ often fundamentally connected to parapsychology etc. Apparently the psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists and so forth were going to save the world, they were going to reorder society and recreate mankind! Stepping back it can be seen that these ‘sciences’ simply occupy the same position in the SF world that nanotechnology (and of course the singularity) occupies now – the source of miracles and supermen, the panacea for humankind. Meanwhile, in the realm of hard technology, many of these writers were borrowing heavily from each other, with needle guns, gas guns and blasters abounding. One story I began reading, which fell firmly in the former camp, I found myself really enjoying, and so flipped back to find the name of the author. It was Poul Anderson and the story was called ‘The Sensitive Man’. Damn but I wish writers like him had been taken up in Hollywood land rather than P K Dick – some of whose stories I’ve read here and just found a bit silly. Others of note: ‘The Thing in the Attic’ James Blish, ‘The Planet Savers’ Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Tuesday 31st July
The Meltemi is still here, still chucking things about and still tetchy, though it does seem to be running out of steam ... then again it did stop for one evening, as if like in a hurricane the eye had suddenly come over us, but then started blasting again that night. Whatever, we’re going down to Makrigialos for the Internet and I am damned well going for a swim even if I do get exfoliated on the way into the sea.

Um, no, it's pretty good down here!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Second Book and an Anniversary

Wednesday 19th July

We’ve had an abrupt change in the weather here with the 9.00AM temperature dropping 6 degrees and these white fluffy things appearing over the mountains opposite. This is after a night during which I took two cold showers and kept having to turn on the bedroom fan. You’d think that such a drop in temperature would result in us feeling cool, but not so. The humidity has ramped up – the dead leaves outside are no longer crispy – and the outside temperature feels only marginally cooler. Meanwhile, the house, having soaked up the previous days of sunshine, is now releasing it like a storage heater and it’s only half a degree cooler inside. From experience I’m guessing this weather change is due to a hot and damp south wind coming in and hitting the cooler air from the North. I’m also guessing that another usual consequence of that will be occurring in Makrigialos: a rough sea driven by that wind eating the beach down there. Now we’re waiting to see how things will turn out this coming Sunday, with the forecast temperature supposedly heading for the red zone.

The Dr Whip story is now approaching 9,000 words with an end in sight. We’re off to Sitia shortly for some shopping (because this seems likely to be the coolest day), so I won’t be getting much more of it done today.

Thursday 20th July
Um, change of direction today. I was considering how the Dr Whip story, which I extracted from the first book of this Penny Royal sequence, might well be reinserted. Certain aspects of the short story key neatly (well, with a bit of reshaping) into the whole ... perhaps. While I consider that I think I’ll do some of the second book. I have some sequences in mind involving the prador which should be fun to write.

Yup, I was right about the beach down in Makrigialos, but I do wonder if others are right about the temperature ramping up to some sort of peak on Sunday. It’s even cooler today with the 9.00AM temperature a mere 23.8C.

Friday 21st July
I’m getting more and more impressed with my Kindle every time I use it. The thing is easier to read than a book, yet essentially can be a library of them. Only yesterday I wanted to look up the spelling of a word for a crossword I was doing (tenebrous) then remembered the free copy of the Oxford English that came with that device. I later decided to subscribe to Asimov’s, signed up in just half a minute and had the first issue of the magazine a few seconds later.

For the guy who asked me about how to subscribe to Asimov’s : you hit the ‘Menu’ button next to the ‘Home’ button, select ‘Shop in Kindle Store’, go to ‘Magazines’. I had it there as a suggestion because of my previous SF shopping, but you can bring up the keyboard and search it out. You can buy a single issue of the magazine for £2.79 (or thereabouts) or you can subscribe to it, with a 14 day free trial, for £1.99 an issue. It couldn’t be simpler.

Okay, I’ve started on the next Penny Royal book and, unusually, I’ve remembered to record when I’ve started writing a book. This means that when someone asks me that old favourite in interviews, ‘How long does it take you to write a book?’ I’ll actually be able to give an answer that’s better than a guess. I slid into the writing easily, quickly polishing off my first 2,000 words (in fact I did them in about 3 hours) and have plenty of ideas of where to head. However, I must watch my tendency towards character proliferation. Perhaps I’ll start killing a few of them off...

Saturday 21st July
A group of Norwegians is staying in the rooms above Revans. One of the women I recognize because it was she who last year announced that something terrible had happened in Norway. This was of course Anders Breivik’s killing spree. And now, in America, we have had another shooting. The frequent response I find to this sort of thing is, ‘The world is going mad,’ but no, not really. This sort of shit has been going on since the first human picked up a rock and thought it might come in handy for breaking a skull. What we really should be amazed about, with our population now over 7 billion, is the infrequency of such events. Oh, and by the way, I guarantee that by the time I post this on my blog someone will have claimed that this is all due to violent films like Batman, which of course ignores the short history of film and the rather longer history of human violence.

Sunday 22nd July
It was our anniversary yesterday and some surprises were in store. We went to a shop (owned by the same people who own Revan’s bar) so Caroline could satisfy her shoe and bag habit on this special day. While we were there the daughter, Nicky, came out with a marble chessboard and cast pieces which I thought she was going to try and sell to us. It turns out this was a gift for our anniversary from her family. Next we went to the Gabbiano for a meal and as usual ordered white wine. What turned up was a bottle of expensive Champagne bought for us by Chris, our English neighbour up here.

A very enjoyable meal ensued only slightly marred by the spectacle of some anti-smokers getting silly. They came in demanding a non-smoking area in a restaurant open on all sides with a breeze blowing through. Marco showed them to a table, doubtless on the basis that they didn’t have to smoke there. After seeing someone smoking two tables away from them they got up and stormed out. I had to laugh. They must have taken a wrong turning on their way to California. This is Eastern Crete where the denormalization process and lying propaganda of groups like ASH hasn’t yet got a grip. Their chance of finding a restaurant with a non-smoking area (anywhere but in a stuffy back room) was remote to non-existent. It’s also the case that restaurant owners here can’t afford to turn anyone away, and are less likely to miss the belligerent anti-smokers than the more common smokers who, incidentally, tend to drink more and are less likely to whine.

Monday 23rd July
Oh please spare me from the Greek families descending on sun beds ‘free for customers’ and marking out their territory with half-drunk frappes bought elsewhere; from the young men hogging an area of seafront and displaying like cockerels with bats and ball to their current squeezes preening nearby; from the fat brattish boys; from the mothers being dragged about by invisible umbilical cords connected to their little darlings; and from their bloated husbands who think they’re Mr Universe fresh from a weight-training session. Yup, it’s Greek holiday time. But at least they do enjoy the beach and the sea, which is in complete contrast to many English abroad who don’t like the sea, find the beach too hot, and spend their time sitting inside a bar getting completely pissed.

Tuesday 24th July
I’m steaming along into the next Penny Royal book and as ever constantly surprised that I can just sit down and write my 2,000 words without too much trouble. In fact, on the last couple of occasions, I polished them off in about two hours. Perhaps it’s time for me to shift into another gear and aim for 2,500 or 3,000 a day? No, because today I’ve only managed 1,500 words and am pondering a loose plot thread that might have to be extracted all the way back through the previous book...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

German Sale

I've just been informed by Jon Mitchel at Macmillan (senior rights manager) that the publisher Lubbe in Germany have bought The Technician and The Departure. Excellent stuff! In fact I was wondering only a little while ago what the SOP with Germany was. Anyway they haven’t set publication dates yet but apparently it’s likely they’ll bring out The Technician either next autumn or spring 2014, with The Departure following a year later.

Getting Hotter!

Thursday 12th July

Okay, I’m back on track after seeing the inside of far too many shops in Agios Nicholas and drinking far too much Metaxa. Yesterday, when we got back to the house, the wind had ceased and the temperature had ramped up. Now it’s bloody windy again, and hot: 28C inside and outside the house. I’ve just caught up in my journal, replied to some emails, done an interview for a site called We Love This Book and will soon delve into that Tuppence short story.

So what did I think of Agios Nicholas? It was a nice place as you’ll see from the pictures here, but my goodness the Greeks are silly with their prices. They remind me of the restaurant owners Gordon Ramsey often tried to put back on track: noting a drop in custom their response was always to put the prices up, then get pissed off when potential customers gave them the finger and walked on by. In the centre of Ag Nik, by the harbour, we wanted to find somewhere to sit down and enjoy a half litre of white wine which, in Makrigialos, ranges from €3 to €5, but the prices there ranged from €8 upwards. I told this to one of the waiters – outside one place trying to drag people inside – and he told us we’d never find wine in Agios Nicholas below €8. Lying prick. We wandered five minutes away from the harbour and found it for €5 and the owner of that place consequently got our custom for a large meal the following night.

Other things to note: made me laugh to see the look on some Greeks’ faces when I spoke to them in their own language. Some weren’t sure how to respond, one gave us immediate discounts, which goes some way to counter the woman in a jewellery shop who tried to short-change me by €40. Maybe she made a mistake and maybe I’m just a bit too cynical. Maybe.

The hotel we stayed in was nice and, as some will have noted on Tuesday night, it had WiFi, which I used quite a bit after the Metaxa. We also found flowers in the room and a note offering us a couple of free drinks at the bar when one of the staff spotted Caroline’s birthday cards. All in all an enjoyable trip, but we’re glad to be back home and on familiar territory.

Friday 13th July
Another broiling day today. It was over 28C outside this morning at 9.00AM, there was no wind and the cicadas were shrieking. Now, at 9.50, the temperature is just a spit away from 30C. A swim will definitely be required later, meanwhile, I must get back to work on the story. I just have a few bits to tidy up and must decide between three alternative titles: The Client, Tuppence and The Client, or The Other Gun. I’m leaning towards the last one at the moment.

Saturday 14th July
Okay, in so far as I can ever say that I’ve finished a story (they always get extra tweaks every time I look at them) I’ve finished one that I am calling The Other Gun. I’ve now moved on to one with the provisional title Dr Whip and, once I’ve polished that off, will get on with the next book.

It’s very hot today with the 9.00AM temperature being 29.4C and now at 11.30 it being 32C, but I guess any of you around London at the moment don’t want to be reading this. Yesterday, down in Makrigialos it hit 38C, so over 100F, and today is certain to be even hotter. It’s quite enervating, and the round of watering with the house’s grey water leaves me dripping sweat, but I have to keep on top of this if I want my plants to survive. The first of these below is a shrub grown from seeds gathered outside our favourite restaurant. Anyone know what it’s called (the shrub I mean)? After that are some of the numerous chilli plants I have growing, then a couple of Agnus Castus or ‘Monk’s Pepper’ plants which I hope no one mistakes for something they look quite similar to!

I’ve just been watching a program about this weird thing called The Orbit in London on the Olympic site. It’s that red thing that looks like a helter-skelter – looks as if someone is setting up a funfair there. Anyway, don’t the BBC arts correspondents talk a load of bollocks? And don’t the artists, designers or architects feed them plenty of bollocks to wax lyrical about? Apparently The Orbit is representative of our new multicultural age, or something. Certainly it could represent our age, since it’s a useless object on which money has been pissed away, looks like it’s incomplete and wrapped in sagging scaffolding, and appears to be technology and design tied in a ridiculous knot. I do wonder when the twits spending public money on follies like this will realize that when they want art they really need to avoid dicks practised in the art of bullshit.

Shame on you Boris Johnson.

Sunday 15th July
I’ve just planted load of statice plants in the back garden. These produce flowers that can last in a vase in the house until you need to wipe cobwebs off them. In fact, they don’t really need water because as they dry out they retain their colour and shape. We first spotted them being sold in bunches in Sitia market and only then realized we’d brought along seeds of the same. I had two plants surviving from last year – pink and white – and now I’ve also planted blue and yellow.

Monday 16th July
Well, I continued working over the weekend on the latest short story, making a large number of alterations to the text I had and adding about 2,000 words. Here I usually do stuff around the house and garden on the weekends but this last one it’s just been too hot. Half an hour outside has to be followed by half an hour recovering inside. After I planted those statice, for example, I left a trail of sweat across the tiles as I headed inside, then had to wash the salt out of my eyes, drink cold water and just sit until the sweat stopped pouring down my back. This was a good time, therefore, to turn on the laptop and do something less physical.

Yesterday the daytime temperature up here hit about 34C (in the shade), while down in Makrigialos it reached 39C. Today we’re told is going to be hotter with a temperature down there on the low 40s, but then in ensuing days it will drop to the mere mid-30s.

Tuesday 17th July
I picked up some cheap mega collections of SF stories to go on my Kindle and have been steadily working my way through them. They are funny. Venus is always a jungle planet and every story about Mars usually has to make some mention of a canal. In one story a future Earth was under threat and its whole population of 3 billion might be destroyed. Vehicle control panels, whether they are flying cars or spaceships, are always scattered with dials and gauges like something out of Jules Verne, and I laughed out loud when a spaceship’s lifeboat went way off course because it blew a transistor.

But of course, people will be laughing at my stories, and not so far in the future. At least these stories were not written in a time when technological development is heading towards the point when a story might go out of date just in the time it takes to write it. Perhaps one for the future: electronic fiction that perpetually adjusts itself to stay contemporary – some kind of software that quietly deletes transistor and replaces it with integrated circuit, then quantum processor...

Sixteen days to go until the release of Zero Point. Don’t forget to get your order in!

The billions of Zero Asset citizens of Earth are free from their sectors, free from the prospect of extermination from orbit, for Alan Saul has all but annihilated the Committee by dropping the Argus satellite laser network on it. The shepherds, spiderguns and razorbirds are somnolent, govnet is down and Inspectorate HQs are smoking craters. But power abhors a vacuum and, scrambling from the ruins, comes Serene Galahad. She must act before the remnants of Committee power are overrun by the masses. And she has the means.

Var Delex knows that Earth will eventually reach out to Antares Base and, because of her position under Chairman Messina, knows that the warship the Alexander is still available. An even more immediate problem is Argus Station hurtling towards the red planet, with whomever, or whatever trashed Earth still aboard. Var must maintain her grip on power and find a way for them all to survive.

As he firmly establishes his rule, Alan Saul delves into the secrets of Argus Station: the results of ghastly experiments in Humanoid Unit Development, a madman who may hold the keys to interstellar flight and research that might unlock eternity. But the agents of Earth are still determined to exact their vengeance, and they are closer to him than he knows...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Back to Reading

Wednesday 4th July

Yeah yeah yeah, as people have delighted in telling me I got the last two dates on my blog wrong. I put it down to losing track of time here and, frankly, not giving a toss. I might go and correct it or I might just leave it as it stands, for the historical record or something.

Work on the Tuppence thing continues apace but I have no word counts to write down. Roughly the chunk of text I had started off at about 18,000, lost 3,500, gained a 1,000 and has had all sorts of stuff completely rewritten. I reckon the end result will be a short story of about 20,000 (if you can actually call something of that length ‘short’).

Thursday 5th July
And of course (continuing from yesterday) the text removed is not lost and now sits in a file called ‘Dr Whip’ which I know sounds like the title of a porn star, but isn’t. This lot should result in yet another short story. Today, with Tuppence, I’ve reached the point where I can actually continue writing new stuff rather than fill sections in to knock the story into shape and give it direction. I’ll be getting onto that shortly.

Well, dancing to the Wii has resulted in me dropping 1 stone 4lb since January and I now weigh 12 stone 6lb, yet it still doesn’t quite feel like enough. It’s not the weight I want to lose, but the stubborn gut that seems to be clinging like a limpet. Maybe it’s loose skin yet to shrink to fit my new form (I wish). No more dancing now since in the afternoons we head down to Makrigialos beach, however, I have swum a few miles over the last few weeks and hope this will be enough to stop me turning back into Mr Blobby.

Saturday 7th July
As I’ve probably noted before here I’ve been a bit lax in my reading, in fact, until recently, I hadn’t read a book since April. The first book I started with, about a week ago, was Ben Bova’s Return to Mars. This was enjoyable in its way, but I started to get seriously annoyed with the central character. This semi-mystical half Navaho scientist was horrified by the idea of tourists on Mars, of hotels being built there, various tours, maybe people mountain climbing offered on Olympus Mons. These horrible ignorant tourists would be tramping all over the place, maybe picking up souvenirs etc. Mars, it seems, should be the preserve of serious scientists and academics only, none of the plebs should be allowed to go there and it should remain untouched by crass commercialism. Apparently the working plebs must put their hands in their pockets to pay for pure science, and how dare they expect that science to benefit them.

Having skipped through the last chapters of that book (and laughed at Mars being claimed by the Navaho nation) I then turned my attention to my Kindle. When I first got it I loaded it up with some bargain SF short story collections. I also picked up a novella by Guy Haley called Nemesis Worm, and this is what I started on. This was an enjoyable read and an enjoyable romp with an AI gumshoe and German cyborg on the trail of a homicidal AI. It was the perfect length for a beach read too. The only negative thing I would say about it is it needs a bit more copy editing as there are quite a few errors in there. For example, is it Smillie (which in my mind comes out as S-milly) or Smiley (as in George Smiley and Smiley’s People)?

Sunday 8th July
We’re into day two of a hot moisture-sucking wind – the meltemi (or it might be the sirocco - hard to tell up here) has arrived. Just like last year it is stripping the grapevine of leaves and leaving them green and crispy scattered across the garden or piled on the terrace behind plant pots. I’m coming to the conclusion that we’ll never get more than a handful of grapes off this vine because where it is on our house it’s just too exposed. Vines that produce up here are generally low and clustered together in fields or sheltered by other buildings. The wind is also stripping the datura tree and generally frazzling all my other plants – drying out their pots in no time at all. This is a bit of a worry because we’re going to Agios Nicholas for two nights from tomorrow for Caroline’s birthday. I might be losing some plants and our time in Agios Nicholas might be spent dodging tumbling umbrellas and generally finding places to shelter from the perpetual blasts.

Tuesday 10th July

I'm sitting on a hotel balcony in Agio Nicholas now with the luxury of WiFi. The ruddy wind is still blowing, I have a Metaxa hangover ... ach, that's all for now.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Shadow of the Scorpion!

Wednesday 27th June
It’s been exceedingly hot here lately and I wonder if that accounts for the latest visitor we found squatting on the spare room floor. Judging by the stuff I write about you’d think I would be alright with creepy crawlies. Generally I am, snakes for example don’t bother me at all, though I’m not one of those nutters who will pick up a spider, and when a grasshopper the size of Cuban cigar lands on me I definitely jump. This particular creature had my skin crawling and since squashing the fucker I’ve been using more caution when picking things up, and carefully watching where I put my hands.

Having completed the first draft of Penny Royal (1) I’m again contemplating what to do next – whether to just go straight into the next book or write something shorter – and it’s occurred to me to do something tactical. The large section I extracted from Penny Royal (1) has the makings of a short story or even a novella. If I get that done and aim it at some American publication, (maybe Asimov’s which, incidentally, you can subscribe to through your Kindle now), and if its accepted, that should be help towards promoting the Night Shade Books release of the Owner series next year. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.

Thursday 28th June
I’ve started on the Tuppence thing (this was the name of the main character in the stuff I extracted from the Penny Royal book) and can see how it will develop. There are about 18,000 words there so we’re talking about quite a long story when I’m done. I’m also going to do something I was contemplating above. I’m going to sign up for Asimov’s through my Kindle. Since Caroline bought me the device for Christmas I haven’t really used it and I really ought to. I really ought to get back into some reading, since the last book I read was on April 1st. Okay, to work.

Friday 29th June
The winds of Crete arrived yesterday (that’s the title of an interesting book by the way) so, after I’d done my work for the day, we didn’t bother heading down to the beach. From past experience we knew that we’d end up being sand blasted and that the sea would be chilled by the wind. Instead we went off to Sitia for some shopping, where we first headed to a wood yard for some timber. This I brought back and used to repair our hall bookshelf (knackered by the damp in there) and which I’ll use to make some shelves for the kitchen – finally finishing that job off. Yawn.

Oh, and just to counter that horrible picture above, here’s our datura tree:

Monday 1st July
Blimy, it’s July already. I could say I’m baffled about where the time went, but looking around me I can see precisely where it went: into a kitchen, a bamboo ceiling, the garden and finishing the first draft of Penny Royal.

We’ve had no more nasty visitors in the house but, contemplating the fact that there are very few ways a scorpion that size can get into the house I’ve come to a conclusion that makes me shudder. A couple of weeks back I obtained the spray and gas canister to rid a building of wood worm, which I needed for the ruin. This was all pretty poisonous stuff so to spray the beams I put on overalls and a raincoat from the car while spraying the beams. After I’d sealed off the ruin and then released the gas canister inside I came back down here and dumped jacket and overall in the spare room. Now, that jacket was in the boot of the car which, a week prior to this, I filled up with wood from the side of the road (I’m always grabbing wood like this to go in the stove or use for various repairs etc). I’m fairly sure now that I picked up the scorpion with that wood and that it probably then crawled into my raincoat. I probably had the thing in my pocket or crawling around inside the coat while I was spraying. Okay, enough – I really don’t want to think about that much more.

Back to work on Tuppence (what is it with this coinage thing?).

Tuesday 2nd July
I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘Tuppence thing’ needs chopping down even further. There’s a character in there called Dr Whip who, at the instigation of Penny Royal, is transforming into something yet to be revealed. He’s an interesting character with an interesting story but, I’m finding him at a loose end. Better I extract him completely and do something separate with him.

That’s all for now.