Archive for the ‘technology’ Tag

High School Reunion

I spent eight years of my life living in Canada. I moved out there with my mother, stepfather and sister in 1980. I was ten years old at the time. I resented having to move countries. I moved back in 1988, at eighteen years old, after finishing high school.

The high school I attended was Grand River Collegiate, in Kitchener, Ontario. I spent five years there because in those days Ontario had a grade 13 – now long gone, I understand. The school opened in 1966. Last year, 2016, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it decided to have a ‘reunion weekend’ to celebrate fifty years of ‘Renegades’.

I have a lot of bittersweet memories of my teenage years. Does anyone ever have a good time during puberty? But in high school, at least, there were some good experiences, and it was a big improvement on junior high. It was in high school I began to have confidence in my writing – that this was, at least, something that I was good at, and I had some very encouraging English teachers. I made some good friends in high school, friends I am still in contact with. I started playing Dungeons & Dragons. And I was finally able to drop that most hated of classes, Physical Education. The Canadian education system – at least when I went through it – did not seem to comprehend that some people will never, ever, be any good at sports, no matter how hard you push them. But that is a post for another time.

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Me (L) and my sister, haunting the old school corridors 30 years on

Ultimately the most important lessons you learn are those you discover after school. I was bullied in school. I suppose most people are. Perhaps we had it easier, in the days before social media and the internet when your bullies had to come face to face with you instead of hiding behind Twitter accounts. Bullying is always tough. But you grow up, you learn to love yourself and you learn to put the hurtful things the bullies said behind you.

Anyway, the school opened its doors for an open house weekend as part of its reunion celebrations, and I decided to go. My sister, who still lives in Canada, came along. We were both, briefly, at the same high school. But she was three grades below me and at the time she found me terminally embarrassing, so we were rarely in the same place at the same time.

It was a strange experience, going back into my old high school after nearly thirty years. I think back to those times and sometimes it feels like it wasn’t me – like it all happened to someone else. And the school has changed quite a lot since I attended. There’s a proper drama room with a stage now. We just had a room with a carpet and no desks – we had to sit on the floor. There’s a really high-tech music room, with soundproof practise booths. But as I walked around, every so often a memory would hit me. We went up the stairs to explore the upper floor and I suddenly remembered clattering up and down those stairs every day, between classes. I went into the girls’ toilets and remembered that these were the ones I used every day, at school, because they were conveniently placed between corridors. I’m pretty sure the decor, or the facilities, hadn’t changed in 30 years either.

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Exhibit A: Evidence of Sara’s terrible dress sense during adolescence?

In the corridor that used to be where all the French and business studies (ie: typing) were, ‘decade rooms’ had been set up. So of course I headed straight for the 1980s room. Photographs of the time were hung up every where, and who should I see in that room but my old typing teacher. While I was talking to her telling her how in all honesty her typing class was the single most useful class I ever took in my life, my sister was prowling the room looking at the photographs. I was in quite a lot of them. I threw myself enthusiastically into high school and joined all the clubs. I was trying to get people to notice me. My sister was making a point of trying not to be noticed. She kept bringing me pictures I featured in. Most of them I remembered – I bought all the yearbooks, and most of the pictures were there somewhere. But then she brought me one I hadn’t seen before. “How you can tell that’s me?” I said. “The face is turned away.”

She gave me a look and pointed at the picture. “Look at that outfit! Of course it’s you. And socks with sandals? Who else would wear that?”

Perhaps she had a point. I am attaching the picture as Exhibit A. I am the person with long brown hair in the foreground, lookng away from the camera. You can judge for yourself whether or not my dress sense was as terrible as my sister perceived it to be.

On the whole it was fun, revisiting my high school for a day, and it brought back some good memories that I had forgotten all about. But I think the most important thing about reminiscing on high school days is to remind yourself how far you’ve come since then.

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Gadgets

I got an iPad mini for Christmas. I am still figuring out how it works. And it has made me think about how many gadgets I actually own, and how important Internet connectivity has become to daily life.  At home I have a laptop, a NetBook, a Kindle, a PSP, a Playstation 3, a mobile phone and an iPad that all connect to my wifi.

I cannot imagine life without email, or Internet access. Whenever we go away anywhere, the first thing I do is find out how to connect to the hotel’s wifi – and whether or not it has wifi influences whether or not we choose to book it.

I also cannot imagine life without my NetBook.  This little gadget I take everywhere with me, and I do most of my writing on it.  It has become such a part of my life now that I find it difficult to write without it.  I certainly could not go back to the days of scribbling stories in pencil in the back of school exercise books, which is how I did it in my teenage years, and indeed back then could not imagine writing a first draft any other way.

The Internet has changed the world.  We can all connect with each other through cyberspace.  It has incited revolution in countries where oppressed citizens can see what life is like in other places, and collectively decide they don’t want to put up with this anymore.

It has made research a great deal easier.  In the old days, if you wanted to write a book set in, say, the French revolution, you had to go to the library and make use of the card catalogue to find books on the subject.  Now you just do a Google search.

It has made self publishing easier.  Anyone can upload a manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing and publish a novel.  Whether or not they should is a whole other story, but I’ve already blogged about this recently so I won’t go into it again (see my post here if you want to know my views on this).

My mobile phone I have also become hugely reliant on.  I still have a paper pocket diary, but I find myself keeping track of appointments on the calendar on my mobile phone far more often than I refer to my diary.  I don’t leave the house, even briefly, without my mobile phone, just in case something happens and I need to phone for help.  In fact, the mobile phone has proved to be an even more world-changing invention than the Internet.  Just about everyone in the world has one.  We’ve been to remote villages in third world countries where people live very basic lives, but still everyone has a mobile phone.  From what I understand, the charities that work on trying to improve communications for people in poor remote villages across the world find it easier to distribute the old handsets that are thrown out to the people in these villages than to dig up the landscape in order to install cables for land lines.  There are now more mobile phones in the world than people, apparently.

Of course, technology often fails, and every time there’s a power cut, whether it be at home or at work, I am reminded how dangerous it can be to completely depend on technology.  I have more than one alarm clock set just in case the power fails in the night and the alarm fails to go off.  I back up my writing on several computers, and to Dropbox which I can access from pretty much every mobile device.  So if one computer goes kaput I can access my files from elsewhere, including battery-operated devices in case the power fails.  This is also why I have a paper address book and a paper diary – if technology fails, I don’t lose everything.

The speed at which the world has changed in the last thirty years is frightening.  But changed it has, and whether we like it or not we have to adapt to the changes.  We all have houses full of gadgets.  That’s the way things are these days. For most people in the Western world, the energy required to power these devices is taken for granted.  But what if the electricity ran out?  Permanently?  How devastating would that be for this changed world?

There’s a story in there somewhere…

 

A Few Words On Self-Publishing

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

The rise of the e-book has led to an increase in self-publishing.  Never has it been easier to self-publish your book.  In fact all you actually need to do is format your manuscript correctly, add a cover image, upload it to Kindle and there it is, available to download to whoever wants it.

This is a pretty controversial subject.  A lot of people in the publishing industry are of the opinion that every self-published book is badly written and badly edited, and anyone with any modicum of talent will eventually be picked up by a “proper” publisher.

The self published authors tell a different story.  Most of them have been discouraged by years of rejections, convinced that their book is not necessarily bad, but not marketable enough to be picked up.  Sometimes there is truth to this belief.  Of course there are a lot of delusional people out there as well, but that’s digressing a bit.

When I first started submitting novels to publishers, over 25 years ago, the process was very different.  To get a publisher you had to get an agent.  That meant sending in the first three chapters, by mail, including a stamped self-addressed return envelope.  To get the latter meant standing in line at the post office with your open envelope, having it weighed to find out how much postage would cost, buying that amount twice, then having to remove the SAE to put stamps on it, seal your envelope, and then put stamps on the outer envelope.  And then a couple of weeks later you’d get home from work to discover a brown envelope with your handwriting on the doorstep, and your heart would sink because you knew that it was another rejection.

And after all that, the pages would come back having been all creased and curled in the mail, and not in a fit state to send out to anyone else and so as well as having to buy so many stamps you were spending a fortune on paper and ink (I had an Amstrad PCW in those days – it used a dot matrix printer).

Vanity presses we knew to avoid at all costs, and self publishing wasn’t a terribly attractive option, because you had to lay out costs for printing and typesetting, and find somewhere to store the finished product, and anything self-published was perceived to be of insufficent quality to find a publisher

The publishing industry has changed since then.  There are a lot more small independent presses around willing to take a chance on new writers, and you don’t need an agent to submit to them, but it seems to be getting harder for new writers to break into the big established publishers – unless they are showing signs of being the next JK Rowlings or Dan Brown.  And online e-publishers like Amazon and Smashwords are making it far easier to self-publish e-books.

I have to admit my tune has changed on the self-publishing front.  If you get bored of being told what you’re writing isn’t going to sell, then self publishing becomes an attractive option.  But it is true that there are a lot of self-published books out there that are badly written and badly edited, and really aren’t helping to dispel this notion that all self-published books are rubbish.

In my opinion, there are three crucial things that a writer should do before they even consider self-publishing.  In order of importance, they are:

1.  When the manuscript is finished, send it to some beta readers to read and comment.  Heed their comments and re-write the manuscript.  Criticism can be hard to take, but most writers are too close to their work to be able to judge it obectively.  A writing group is really helpful for this.  If you can’t find one locally, go to an online writers’ forum like Absolute Write.  You’ll pick up valuable advice on the writing process anyway, and you will undoubtedly find a few helpful souls who are willing to give you an email crit.

2.  Pay a professional editor to edit your manuscript.  This can be expensive, but you need to invest in it, and it will set you apart from the rank amateurs.  No matter how good you think you are at spelling and grammar, there’ll always be something you overlook.  Just about every self-published book I have ever read contains at least one instance of “it’s” when should be “its” – for the record, the former is a contraction of “it is”; the latter means “belonging to it”.  If I come across this in any published book, I’ll be grinding my teeth and probably won’t finish reading it.

3.  Ensure your book has a professional looking cover.  And this does not mean you playing around with clip art and a graphics programme for half an hour.  Pay an artist, or someone with professional experience in creating cover images.  If you don’t know anyone, ask around your social network for a recommendation.

There’s nothing wrong with self publishing your own book as long as you’ve done these three things.  Yes it means forking out cash, but you are investing in your reputation as a writer, and if readers buy your book and enjoy it, they are likely to recommend it to others – and nothing beats word of mouth when it comes to book sales.

If every self-published author did these things, we would go a long way towards changing the perception of self-published books as all being rubbish.  There are some brilliant self-published e-books to be found in the Kindle Store.  But sometimes you have to sift through a lot of mud to find the golden nuggets.

Let’s work towards a world where there’s more gold than mud out there to find.

 

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

When we first moved to Canada from England in 1980, I was ten years old.  There was no email, in those days.  The World Wide Web was not available to all.  In order to stay in touch with all the people I’d left behind, I’d started writing letters.  There were a lot of people I wanted to stay in contact with.  School friends.  Aunts, uncles and cousins.  Grandparents.  My father and step-mother, who were still back in England.

Most people wrote back.  I would look forward to getting home from school and checking the mail, to see if any letters had arrived for me.  I made a point of replying to every one.  I became very good at writing letters, and the process became a ritual.  I kept every letter I received in a letter rack, stacked in order of receipt with the oldest in front.  When I sat down to write a reply, I would reply to the person whose letter I’d had the longest.  If the person had asked any questions in their letter, I would make a point of replying to them, whether it was something generic like “how is school?”, or as specific as, “how did that play go you were rehearsing for last time?”  I would also write about any news that had occurred since last time I wrote to the person.

My letters were long, generally running to at least six pages, sometimes more.  A lot of people gave me stationery sets when we moved to Canada.   Generally they contained a number of decorated front sheets, the same number of envelopes, and half as many continuation sheets.  I never understood this, because it wasn’t enough.  I used up all the continuation sheets within two or three letters and then either had to use more than one of the front sheets, or carry on with pieces of ordinary lined notepaper.  I always wondered why there were never more continuation sheets than front sheets.  How could anyone possibly have so little to say they could do it in a letter only a page long?

Somewhere in the last 20 years, the art of letter writing has been lost.  I admit I don’t write letters any more.  Many of the people I used to write letters to are now on Facebook, so I keep up with their news that way.  Pretty much all of them are on email, and I will occasionally send people newsy emails.

I write emails the way I write letters – in fact, the way I write anything.  Sentences are complete, with all the punctuation in the correct place.  They tend to be very long.  Sometimes I miss writing letters, but it occurs to me that writing this blog is, for me, the modern equivalent of writing letters.  I can relay my news via the World Wide Web, and I don’t have to repeat myself – something of an advantage over letter writing, I must admit, as in my letter-writing heyday I was repeating the same news in every letter.

Nobody writes letters anymore, and not many people write long emails, either.  I can’t decide if this is down to laziness, to the fact that life has just got so busy, or that people’s attention span has got shorter in the last 20 years.  We are used to being fed instantaneous information, in short bursts – Tweets; texts; 30 second commercials.  Now nobody wants to be bothered to read to the end of a lengthy email.  A lot of people seem to write emails the way they write text messages – devoid of grammatical structure, and full of crass abbreviations (“u” instead of “you”) and erroneous spellings.

Most people do not communicate via lengthy emails.  Some people communicate entirely by mobile phone.  I have always been a person who prefers written communication to verbal.  There are very few people I have long telephone conversations with.  If I’ve not seen you in a while and I want to chat, I am more likely to send you a long chatty email than I am to pick up the phone.  But, I am a writer.  Written communication is and always has been my strength.

Sometimes I mourn the lost art of letter writing.  I sometimes regret we can’t go back to those long-gone days when I used to look forward to getting home and reading a letter that had arrived in the post for me.

I also mourn the correct use of English.  I don’t know if grammar has been removed from the school curriculum these days – the appalling state of some people’s Facebook statuses makes me suspect it has been – but certainly letter writing has been.

It may be that people have no need to write letters any more, but kids should still be taught how to form a sentence.  Effective written communication, even by email, is an essential life skill.  What chance have you got of getting the job if the cover email that accompanies your CV is written in text-speak?  If I received a job application like this I would delete the email without even bothering to look at the CV.  If I get an advertising brochure from anyone featuring a misplaced apostrophe in the word “its”, I will make a point of avoiding whatever product it is advertising.  There is no excuse for poor grammar, and no excuse for not knowing how to form a correct sentence.

If we were all taught how to write letters, we’d all be aware of that.

If I Were Famous…

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Occasionally I fantasise about what I’d do if I became a rich and famous writer.  And I’m not talking rich enough to give up the day job and pay off the mortgage.  I’m talking about rich beyond the realms of reasonable possibility.  JK-Rowling-sort-of rich and famous.

The first thing I’d do is buy a house with an indoor swimming pool, so I could do daily laps without having the general public get in my way.  And the pool must be heated to 35c all the time. I’m a wimp – I hate getting into cold water.  Of course I would also need to hire a Pool Boy – heated swimming pools require a lot of maintenance.

In this fantasy house there would be at least two gaming rooms, each with a couple of types of consoles and a 50″ flat screen TV.  This is so at least two multi-player games could be going on at the same time.  There would also be a retro games room, full of old arcade machines, including the original Space Invaders.  There will also be a juke box in there, belting out 80s hits.  In fact, I’ll just recreate Flynn’s arcade from TRON, and I’ll be set.

There will be a bar, of course.  Stocked with plenty of bottles of Cloudy Bay.  And a bartender to make cocktails.

While we’re on the subject of staff, I’ll need to have a housekeeper who will do all the chores, including the ironing, making the bed and changing the sheets weekly.  And there’ll be a chef.  I like to eat nice food, but I’m rubbish at cooking.

Sigh.  Guess it’s time to stop daydreaming.

What things do you fantasise about buying, if money were no object?

Shara Returns

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s been 18 months since I finished the third draft of the second Shara Summers novel, entitled DEAD COOL. I haven’t touched it since then.

Why? I got discouraged. Feedback I had from beta readers suggested there was a lot of work still to do on it. So much so, I didn’t know where to begin.

Some writers refuse to listen to criticism. Sometimes I think I have the opposite problem. I listen to too much criticism. Someone says to me, “I don’t think this plot is working”, I look at it and think, “they’re probably right”. But then I have no ideas for a new plot so I just stop working on the story. I have had a few people say, “I don’t like your amateur sleuth; she’s not a strong enough character to take through a series”. This triggers a little voice in my head that insists there’s no point in carrying on with any more books about this character because no one likes her.

All this effectively meant I got so discouraged about writing about Shara I couldn’t carry on with the series. A book I got three drafts into has been languishing on the PC ever since.

Two significant things happened since then. First, my NetBook died about a week after the crit session I had for this manuscript. I had been using said NetBook to make copious notes about what my critiquers were saying. I didn’t back this up anywhere. When the NetBook died, this file was lost in the ether forever. Given that this was some time ago, I no longer have a clear memory of what I was told I needed to fix.

Second, I have recently had feedback from someone else I gave the manuscript to – a retired copper who used to work for the Metropolitan Police Murder Squad. I gave him the manuscript because I wanted to know if I was making any glaring errors in the police procedural bits.

He came back to me recently and told me how much he enjoyed it. It was a good holiday read, he said – the sort of story he’d probably take to the beach to enjoy while relaxing in the sun. And he had no problem with any of my procedural scenes (except apparently they don’t draw chalk lines around bodies anymore). He also didn’t have a problem with my amateur sleuth taking advantage of the fact that one of the investigating police officers fancies her, and using that to get information about him about the case. My writing group critiquers had a problem with that. It’s highly unethical for a police officer to have any kind of relationship with someone who should be a suspect, they said.

It might be unethical, but as my copper friend pointed out, policemen are as human as anyone else. They might well engage in unwise relationships with someone they encounter on a case. In fact, he’d come across such things happening in his career.

The strange thing is, encouraging comments from just one person who enjoyed the book have inspired me to finish it. And maybe the fact I no longer have my crit session notes is not such a bad thing. There’s a balance to be had between ignoring all criticism and heeding every negative comment. Sometimes, you have to trust your instincts.  With the Shara books, the fact that I enjoy writing about her should be enough to keep me coming back to her.

And that small voice inside? That’s the voice of self sabotage. That’s the voice that tells me to listen to all the criticism. And I think maybe I need to learn to ignore her every once in a while.

Shara Summers will be back very soon. And if you haven’t been introduced to her yet and are curious about my actress amateur sleuth, DEATH SCENE is available for the Kindle for a mere £2.59. American readers can find the US link here.

In the meantime, I am working on the fourth and hopefully the final draft of DEAD COOL. And you know what? It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it was.

High Tech

About 18 months ago, we got a new franking machine in the office Post Room. Apparently the old one was so outdated it was no longer supported, so we were given a new one. An all singing, all dancing one, that is much more high tech than the old one.

With the old franking machine, we all understood how it worked. You weighed your piece of post, told the machine where the item was going, and the machine came back with a sum. You input the sum into the franking machine, ran the piece of post through it and it came out with the right postage printed on it. Easy.

The new machine does all this for you. All you have to do – allegedly – is put the post on the scales, the machine will calibrate the weight and size of the item, and then you run the item through the machine and it prints the right amount of postage on it.

Or this is the theory. In practice, it’s a bit more complicated than that, and you have to know which buttons to push. Push the wrong ones, or in the wrong order, and it doesn’t work. And sometimes the scales decide to not talk to the machine and you can get nothing out of it. Generally whenever I go to the post room to mail something, there are at least two people huddled over the franking machine, trying to figure out how to get it to do what they want it to do.

I think what this reflects is that the cleverer technology gets, the more complicated it gets, and the more we rely on it. This is a consequence of modern life. When the power goes out in the office – and it occasionally does – no one can do anything. All work is on the computer, and even the phones go down because they are computerised. We can’t even do any filing, because we’re working towards all electronic storage these days.

I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. I’m addicted to the Internet and for the weeks I was without it, after moving, I was completely lost. But the more complicated our technology gets, the more often it goes wrong and the more stressful our lives get.

I’m not criticising the technology. I couldn’t be without my mobile phone, my e-reader and especially my NetBook. But they all need charging on a regular basis, and they can all go wrong. And when they do, my life is thrown into disarray.

In the 1950s, the future was portrayed as being a utopia with so many wonderful time-saving gadgets, we’d all have a lot more leisure time. How different the reality. The more time saving gadgets we have, the busier our lives become.

I couldn’t live my life without electricity. And I think that’s probably not a good thing. But that’s the way it is. When the apocalypse comes, I don’t think I want to be one of the survivors. Let someone else be responsible for the survival of the human race. Given the choice, I think I’d rather die with the power supply.

I’m Back

We finally have telecoms service, nearly a month after moving house. Up until now we’ve had to do without a landline, or internet service, and no TV apart from freeview channels (which are really not worth watching).

So what have I been doing this past month, apart from sticking pins into wax effigies of Virgin Media representatives?  I moved house.  One of my cats died.  I had to go into hospital for minor surgery.  I interviewed Kathy Reichs (yes, really!).

All in all, it’s been quite an eventful month.  Now I am back online, I shall be blogging about some of these things very soon.

Apologies for the neglect of the blog these past few weeks.  Thank you for bearing with me during technical difficulties.  Normal service will be resumed forthwith.  Watch this space!

WIP Woes

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

When I first started writing, I used to scribble in the back of school exercise books, in pencil. Towards the end of the 1980s I got my first computer – an Amstrad PCW. It was one of the machines with green fonts on a black background. It didn’t have a hard drive, so files had to be saved on floppy disks.

I tell this story because the influence that machine had on my writing is still with me today. Because the floppy disks didn’t have much memory, files had to be small. I used to save each chapter as a separate file, because it would take several disks to hold an entire novel. I still use this system of saving each chapter as a separate document. Only when the manuscript is nearing completion do I compile it all into a single document – and only then do I really know how many pages I’ve got.

Currently, I’m working on draft 2 of the horror WIP. Up to now this has largely been minor amendments to each of the early chapters, though as I go through it I start thinking about any major changes that might need to be made.  Things were going quite well until I got to chapter 12. And then I realised chapter 12 was missing from my ‘Draft 1’ folder.

An extensive search failed to unearth the missing chapter, but because I keep meticulous logs of when I write each chapter, I have worked out what has happened. The early chapters of the first draft of this WIP were written from October to December last year. At that point, I was still on my clunky old laptop, and my old NetBook. My writing routine has always been fairly rigid. If I was writing the chapters in Starbucks during my early-morning writing session, they were written on my NetBook. When I got home I would boot up both machines and copy the files from one machine to the other, so that there was a back-up. If I was writing at home, then I would transfer them the other way.

However, the old laptop was very slow, and sometimes waiting for it to boot up to transfer files was a frustrating process. What clearly happened is that when I was copying over my new chapters from the NetBook to the laptop, I somehow overlooked chapter 12 and didn’t copy it.

I got my new laptop for Christmas, and copied the files from my old laptop to the new one. Then the hard drive on my NetBook died – suddenly, and without warning. All files were lost. That was OK, I thought, I had everything backed up. Or mostly everything. Only now have I realised I had failed to back up chapter 12, and the only copy of that chapter is now lost forever on the dead hard drive.

What I am left with is a log of how many words were in that chapter (1,330) and a summary of what it contained. But the file is gone. I have to rewrite it. And that realisation was a depressing thought.

So the next day, I got up early for a writing session, took the NetBook into London and sat in Starbucks staring at chapters 11 and 13 or quite a long time. I did not get hit with any inspiration to re-write chapter 12.  What did occur to me, though, is that there are a lot of problems with this section of the novel, and there’s a lot of rewriting that needs to be done. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t write chapter 12 again. There are a lot of ‘talking heads’ – people talking about things instead of doing things. Too much ‘telling’, not enough ‘showing’, as the T Party writing group would probably say.

What I am attempting to demonstrate in this section of the novel is the changing personality of a character who is being possessed by a demonic creature, in the way he interacts with his friends, and how he’s becoming more violent to his girlfriend. At present, the girlfriend tearfully relays to her friends how her boyfriend raped her. I haven’t actually got a scene showing the rape. But I think I’m going to have to write it. The action will have a lot more impact than the telling.

I haven’t been able to face writing this scene in this week’s writing sessions. It’s going to be a very difficult and harrowing scene, and writing such scenes can be emotionally draining. But it needs to be done. Sometimes your WIP takes you to places you really don’t want to go to. But you have to go there anyway, in order to grow as a writer.

The ironic thing is, if chapter 12 had not disappeared, I would not have scrutinised that section of the novel quite so hard. Some times these things happen for a reason…

Geek Excitement: Resident Evil 6

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

If you’ve been following this blog a while, you will know I have something of an obsession with playing ‘Resident Evil 4’.

We have ‘Resident Evil 5’ as well, but in my view it’s just not as good. Sure, the graphics are better – RE4 is only available on the Nintendo Wii, and it was never really designed to be a superior graphics machine. But I prefer the Wii controls to the PS3 controls. I am a hopeless shot. The Wii controls are gentler on those who are crap shots.

But the game itself just has more atmosphere than its sequel. In RE4, Leon spends a lot of time runing around alone (apart from occasional cut scene interactions with NPCs, and of course the interactions with the very annoying Ashley) in a lonely and creepy part of rural Spain, being attacked by zombies and other unnatural beasties, on a dark rainy night. RE5, set in the daytime under the baking sun of Africa, just doesn’t have the same atmosphere.

And then, of course, the game has Leon. Leon is hot. I have a solid faction of female friends who all drool over Leon. The main character in RE5 is Chris Redfield, who doesn’t have the same lust factor.

‘Resident Evil’ as a series has been around for years. Not being familiar with the game before RE4, I can’t say anything about what earlier games were like, but I gather that the same characters have been popping up periodically throughout the series – Chris and his sister Claire; Leon; Krauser; Jill Valentine; Ada Wong. Each game progresses the plot along, with points from the previous series occasionally referred to. The films follow through with this. I hear rumour there’s a new film in development – live action this time – that will feature all of the series’ characters. Including Leon. Can’t wait for that one.

Anyway, more exciting than that is the news that ‘Resident Evil 6’ is being released later this year. It’s on the PS3, not the Wii, so I will have to get a handle on the awkward controls. But the graphics will be great. And, more relevant, this game features Leon. In full PS3 CGI glory. Woohoo!

For a taster, here’s the trailer: Resident Evil 6 official trailer.