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I hate second drafts

that is all.


Victory over the forces of darkness (NanoWrimo success, that is). . .

I’m delighted that I took part in NaNoWriMo this year, what a fabulous concept! It was well organised and the communications were inspiring and witty, with just the right balance of encouragement and humour. I’d recommend that you give it a go next year. And if you did give it a go this year, I’d encourage you to donate to the good folk at NaNo (if you haven’t already). I’ve been blown away by how much such a small group of people can achieve, and they need our support to keep it going.

I hit the 50,000 target and then some, but it really was the taking part that was the important bit (to roll out the cliche). Also, it fast tracked my next novel, the sequel to The Truth about Sharks and Pigeons. I now hope to have this out in the first half of 2013 (working title ‘The Punchline’).

Take care,




NaNoWriMo disaster averted (nearly)

A weekend binge of writing has put my NaNo quest back on track.

On Thursday I was at a word count of a touch over 15,000, 8k short of the target for that day. Over the past few days I have rattled off just under 15k words, putting me nearly back at par (30,000 as at today). Phew!

Do say hi on the NaNoWriMo site ( if you are taking part – I am registered as plotmash.


Just signed up for NaNoWriMo, my first ever!


The Gutenberg Bible

I’m currently on holiday in the US. My first stop is Pasadena, and this week I’ve visited the very impressive Huntington Library. As one guide book notes, calling it a library is something of an understatement. The collection totals more than six million books, together making up one of the most impressive collections of British and American history anywhere in the world, one that attracts almost two thousand scholars every year. And that’s just the library: The Huntington also boasts an amazing art gallery and very fine gardens. My wife and I spent most of our time wandering around the gardens, with a couple of hours in the art gallery.

The library building was closed when we were there, but one of the most important books of the collection was on display in the art gallery building: a Gutenberg Bible. I was very keen to see this rare book, not so much for itself, but for what it signifies in terms of the intellectual and cultural development of all humanity (and particularly populations with a European origin). Gutenberg invented the printing press (although his invention was pre-dated by developments in the East). The Gutenberg Bible is one of the first examples of a mass-produced book, and the implications for society were huge. Until this point books were copied by hand, usually by clerics. It was slow and laborious work, and meant that the church controlled the production of books. The invention of the printing press was a game changer, allowing the (relatively) low cost production of books, and therefore greatly promoting the dissemination of information. The implications for education and social development are obvious, and revolutionary.
Read more…

Things I am not…

A new permanent page for the site. Check it out

(or not, you know, whatever)


Hi there! I’m sat at the Bayview Chateau Tongariro looking at this view:


OK, so there are a couple of reasons why that’s not entirely true. . .  First of all it’s cloudy and misty, so I can’t see the mountain at all.  Also, it’s not currently erupting.  At least, not as far as I can tell through the mist and fog.

Oh, I guess there’s a third reason: I am facing the wrong way.  But with the cloud and fog it doesn’t really matter, and the desk was setup this way, so moving it around just to look at the fog clouds seems like a lot of effort.

Nonetheless, this is a beautiful part of a beautiful country, and my wife and I just enjoyed a nice walk around the local walking trails (in our ski gear: it’s pretty cold).

Anyway, the visitors centre had some cool displays on volcanoes.  For example, did you know that the pyroclastic thingumies from the Lake Taupo eruption traveled at 600 – 900 kph!  Now, I like a good disaster movie as much as the next man, but I reckon even Tom Cruise couldn’t outrun that in a jeep.  Check out how big it was!


On that note, is it visitors centre, or visitor’s centre, or visitors’ centre? (ignore the centre/ center debate – what’s the correct punctuation here?)  Answers on a pickled herring.

So, the Taupo eruption was a big deal.  Want to know more?