The edits on  Against Gravity are pretty much done, apart from some bits and pieces I want to drop in here and there - mostly descriptive, scene-building stuff I'd been intentionally leaving to the end.  I'm expecting to have this draft done and dusted by the end of the week. After that, I wait for editorial comments, and then line-edits.
I'm feeling poor (ish) at the moment. The roof of the tenement block I live in is in bad disrepair, something which will probably cost myself and my neighbours a fair whack of money. The previous owners of my flat didn't mention the problem when I bought it from them, and as it turns out, nobody's insurance will cover the cost of repair, since it falls under 'expected wear and tear'. The company who factor the building screwed up with their initial estimate for repairs, so it looks like it'll be more than originally anticipated. At the moment, it's going to cost me half a grand (that's my one-eighth share with my neighbours to fix, but once the re-estimate is carried out, I can easily expect it to jump by maybe a couple hundred.
All this wouldn't be a major worry if I had a full-time job, but that's something I'd rather avoid since I want to concentrate more on the writing - so that the writing's at the core of what I do, with the occasional daytime paid work supplementing the income I currently get from the writing. I know there are people out there who hold down full-time jobs and have no problem writing when they come home, but for me, it feels like it reduces the writing to little more than a potentially lucrative evening hobby - something that's fun to do, but not really serious.
Apart from the writing and the daytime graphic design/quark layout stuff, I also supplement my income by renting out a room in my flat, which bumps my income up by a couple of tons per month. So maybe it's not so bad. But the roof repairs mean that I've had to put to one side  my intention to buy a decent, new laptop (preferably Apple which, although more expensive, would allow me to maybe go out there a bit more and do more freelance work) until, maybe, next year. Until then, I'm sticking with the Compaq 166mhz laptop, knackered screen and all. It works - usually - but it's getting decrepit.

I saw Fahrenheit 911 last night, and it pretty much knocked my socks off. It's a long movie, though, and there were times when I caught my attention drifting from the continual onslaught of details, since the whole farrago makes for a fairly complicated web of deceit. It's a documentary which, I suspect, bears repeated viewings to get the full gist.

The thing people have mostly commented on about this movie is its sensationalist slant. This is true, but - perhaps simpy because I agree with the great majority of what Moore says - I don't mind. Unlike some, I found it quite refreshing to see someonefrom the liberal left using techniques far more frequently associated with the strident rightwing press. I still recall with some distaste a poster campaign run by the Tories some years ago, titled something like 'Labour Defense Policy': it was a picture of a British soldier with his hands in the air. Low, very low. But effective, in its way.

People from the political left are generally seen as preferring carefully reasoned discourse over emotionally driven histrionics and easy sound/image combinations, but given that in the US the media is apparently so heavily slanted towards the right (the movie features Fox News journalists saying things like 'Am I biased? Hell, yes!" and "I'd just like to say that Navy Seals rock" during an interview, if I recall, with someone on active service in Iraq), it makes sense to use exactly the same techniques against those who've used them to such clear effect for decades.


I had some success over the missing blurb in Amazon.co.uk. I got an email back from them, and they're attributing it to 'a temporary problem in our database' which they're apparently sorting out. It wasn't only myself that was affected; so were a couple of other Tor UK authors.

They also sent this link, www.amazon.co.uk/add-content-books, which you can use to actually enter the book's details yourself (as opposed to just dumping it online via the 'reviews' option). Useful, particularly if you're, say, a small publisher. There are, as you'd expect, plenty of warnings about precisely where your information is going to go if they have any reason you're a)not really the author, or b)not the publisher.

So I'll give it a couple of days, and see if anything appears. If you end up duplicating the information - ie you manually post something and then their database repeats that information, which can apparently happen - they'll sort it on request. Nice.


I noted with interest that the synopsis for Angel Stations has disappeared from my page on Amazon UK (the link is on the left, under the picture of the cover). I browsed through the pages of some other authors, such as Tony Ballantyne and Jon George, and noticed there was no synopsis on either of their pages. Like I say, there was a synopsis on my page, and now there isn't.

This worried me enough that I even sent an email to Amazon asking about it. It's important to me, because anybody coming to my book via one of those 'people who bought this book also bought ..." type messages you get on Amazon isn't going to have a clue about whether or not they do want to buy my book, because they've got no idea what it's about!

On the other hand, I checked out an anthology by another Glasgow science fiction writer, Mike Cobley, Iron Mosaic, and he simply typed up the sleeve details and posted them up via the 'reviews' section, which is as good as anything. At least, then, you know what you're looking at, beyond a cover and a title.

I'm still working away on the edits, but at least I'm close to the end. I ended up re-line-editing the whole thing myself, because I felt it was necessary. Stuff that makes sense to you during one draft doesn't necessarily make as much sense during subsequent drafts. But it's feeling tighter, sharper. As usual, I've made my own changes and adjustments above and beyond the editorial suggestions.

Thursday evening, I was in Glasgow Ottakar's bookshop watching a question and answer session featuring four well-known Scottish genre authors: Richard Morgan, Miller Lau, Mike Cobley (again), and Grant Morrison, who's been a well-known writer for both DC and Marvel for a number of years. It went well, but at one point during proceedings I started wondering if what we all really need is some central repository called 'really interesting and incisive general questions we can draw on when we want to ask a writer about his work'.

Obviously, they'd have to be fairly general, but the fact is, despite being a novelist myself I still find myself pretty stuck when it comes even to asking questions of other writers during these events. I sat there, and all I had in my head was, 'urrr ... where do your ideas come from?' Not that I said it out loud, I hasten to add. But it's always the same at these things: it can be a struggle to come up with something which might actually be illuminating by way of a question.

Anyway, we all headed for the Counting House next to George Square, and Grant surprised me by remembering me - I used to be fairly heavily involved in the small-press comics scene in Glasgow in the early '90's, particularly a publication called Frankly, which I worked on with Simon Mackie, an artist currently living near London. I'd only spoken to Grant maybe once, something like thirteen years ago, so I was surprised that he did remember me.

I got another pretty decent review, this time in SFX magazine, which was nice. I'm keeping my eye out for others.