Chat and Spin Radio


Chat and Spin Radio update

Sadly this rescheduled Zoom interview, which did take place 12/04/21 7pm, wasn’t recorded due to technical issues. I will post an update when a rebooking us confirmed

Also, sadly, the original Zoom Interview was Cancelled.

I am very sorry I did not let you know sooner – please accept my apologies.

Chat and Spin Radio – Interview

At 9:40 pm today (UTC 27/03/21) I’ll be on air being an interviewed on Chat and Spin Radio. I’ll be talking Ian Johnson on a ten minute slot. Hopefully you will be able to listen to it later. Once it is archived I’ll post a link here.

The interview may cover my background, where I can be found online and how people can get in touch. Details about me are covered on my main Goodreads ID and my alt-Goodreads ID (I’ve tried to merge them, believe me). I maintain an occassional writing blog on Wix in my and much of this information plus other stuff is repeated in the About me section on this blog. I frequently attend meetings of Accrington Writers and I am the on the committee of the Lancashire Authors Association. The best way to get in touch is leave a comment on this blog. If you prefer you can leave a review against one of my books (list below).

Amazon Kindle editions

The Turning Stone YA Fantasy set in an alternate Earth – beginning with the Toba event over 70,000 years ago

The Turning Stone cover

The Turning Stone cover – Athene as star seeker

The Tau Device an interstellar gourmet, a xeno-archaeologist and the return of an ancient menace from the voids between the spiral arms; space opera with humanity the bottom dog

Justice - The Tau Device

Justice – The Tau Device

A Guide to First Contact a sexually transmitted degenerative mutation leaves humanity facing extinction, and with the aliens landing, Western civilisation has collapsed; all that’s left is the Mandat Culturel a dystopian experimental non-linear work. (kindle edition includes a couple of Easter eggs)

Lulu - Pocket Book

Lulu – Pocket Book

Print on Demand editions

A Guide to First Contact (POD edition)
The Tau Device (POD edition)
The Slow Holocaust four dystopian futures

Dystopian fiction

Dystopian fiction

Silt From Distant Lands time, space and imagery in free verse and rhyme

Poetry and short fiction

Burnley about my home town and its grammar school

Burnley - front cover

Burnley

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Game app: Sword Art Online – Memory Defrag


Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way first

This will only be of interest to those interested in or already playing Sword Art Online – Memory Defrag. This is a free to download mobile app. I have played this for several months (as de-stress from my job) and the learning curve is steep. Once you master it you are ready to take on the Limited-Time-Only Quests. If you group up with good players or if you’re prepared to shell out real money, you can make progress. If you play for free, the options are limited but it is possible to progress.

How you do this is down to your playing style but it all comes down to progressing your characters. This requires investment of time. It’s possible to shortcut this by spending real money on in-game resources – but that still leaves the question of: what is your playing style? I decided to invest the time – at least until I could work out what was going on and what resources were rare.
First was to discover which of my characters was best adapted to my playing style. I won’t bore you with the tedious graft and failed experiments but ultimately the two top ranking characters from this were
All Piercing Sinon and Blossom of Youth Philia


They can solo most bosses

Blossom of Youth - Philia
Blossom of Youth – Philia

Also good is Fluttering Petals Rain


Rain is used on the daily one time only quests for which she is invariably accompanied by newbies – ostensibly to show them the ropes but in reality as a level boost

Fluttering Petals - Rain
Fluttering Petals – Rain

other useful characters depend on playing style so,
Kagura Dance Premier works out well if enhanced to 5 stars –
Cool Screw Waals is good at wearing down multiple mobs at a range provided she keeps moving.


Apprentice Nun Selka is an effective weapon if immediately unleashed following a Parry. I could go on but the thing is, the character must suit your playing style. It’s a gamble upgrading as you have limited materials with which to upgrade. The game economics aren’t easy to master but care is important when unlocking skillshots and limit breaking, as the resources used aren’t always easy to come by.
Anyhow, following a jarring experience as a participant in a multiplayer raid on The Administrator, I decided to record this quest in single player mode. It’s worth noting that the tactics of the Administrator changes part way through so for those who are experiencing difficultly, have your pencils ready.

So here’s the scenario:

06/02/2021 — pay of the February 2021 campaign
Integrity Knights Battle
Masters of the World: Quest 6 • Taboo Down (Master + 1 )
Enemy Level 100 – the area boss being a White Tiger, the Administrator being a bonus enemy once the big cat is defeated.

Combatants:
Level 95 All Piercing Sinon takes on the Administrator wearing / armed with
• L’arc Qui ne Faut R4 (4 star bow / unlocked sacred power)
• Crystal Snow Queen Dress R4 (4 star robe)
• Elite Disciple Pendant R5 (5 star pendant)

Sinon has backup from the following party members:
Lv 90 Friendly Master Blacksmith Lisbeth
Lv 80 Heart Full of Memories Eugeo

plus Call for Assistance backup:
Lv 90 Apprentice Nun Selka
Lv 85 Susanoo Yuuki
Lv 80 Unyielding Warrior Kirito

After defeating the level 100 White Tiger, the Masters of the World decided that Sinon’s Taboo rating was off the scale and .ported her into the lair of the Administrator to be dealt with. In preparation, Sinon defeated the White Tiger singlehandedly saving her backup for when the Administrator had been softened up, the catch being that the heal cycle of the Administrator replenishes half a bar of health. The plan was to deal the coup de grace just before a heal cycle. The Administrator however delayed a heal which played into Sinon’s hands and so backup wasn’t necessary (i,e, not used in this clip).

The action commences just after a Taboo index of 100 propels Sinon into The Adminstrator’s lair. The Administrator changes tactics part way through. Get yourself a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits; make yourself comfortable and be ready to make notes.
Running time: a lot.

Credits
1) The game mechanics and images of SOA MD are intellectual properties of their respective owners. Sword Art Online was written by Japanese Light Novelist Reki Kawahara (pen name Fumio Kunori – 九里史生)

The recording is in Youtube and starts part way through the boss encounter – from it you can make a fairly reasonable stab at my playing style.

Screenshots of Sinon’s party (from before they progress through the levels).

Party lead and aggro generator: Sinon
Power parry: Lisbeth
Light touch parry: Eugeo

Assist characters: Selka, Yuuki, Kirito

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Pierre Cardin


In noting the passing away of Pierre Cardin, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my early days in textiles, back in the late 1970s.  At that time I worked in a bespoke label manufacturing business known as Bell Woven Labels which then had 25% of the UK market in bespoke, woven-edge labels. Woven labels were for expensive garments (just as printed labels are for the cheap). They conveyed information such as:

  • where a garment was manufactured,
  • what it was made of
  • washing / care instructions
  • and in the case of larger customers such as M&S and IWS, a supply chain code.
  • most important though was the branding.

At that time the technology to produce bespoke Woven Labels, required significant investment which in turn too many years to recoup. The investment was in setting up and production technology for Vaupel looms, Jacquard cut designs, winding weft, warping and twisting the warp; added to this was the artwork and design process that converted brands into reality, whilst not losing sight of the objective: a good quality label that, as far as the customer was concerned, neither snagged nor irritated the skin. Then there was customer acquisition.

Bell Woven had a team of salesmen who were regulars at fashion shows – before a haute couture collection could be released, it had to have well designed and difficult to imitate labels. Pierre Cardin was a valued client in those long ago days. For that memory alone I bid him a respectful adieu and I hope that he achieved all his goals

Pierre Cardin puts his signature to the side of a plane circa the late 1970s
Pierre Cardin puts his signature on the side of an executive jet.

Pierre_Cardin on Wikipedia

Obituary in the Guardian

Memories of Bell Woven

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Not a Dead End – Just a Muddy Patch


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Brunanburh



Brunanburh

The forgotten battle that forged the English nation – Bernard Cornwell
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/11/02/forgotten-battle-ofbrunanburh-forged-english-nation/

Brunanburh was an important battle that determined the Anglo-Saxon character of these islands. There are several places where it could have taken place, from the plains of Cheshire all the way to Yorkshire. 

I made the case for this battle to be based close to the source of the river Brun, for which the town of Burnley is named, in my book of the same name: Burnley. This rests on the strength of military practicalities; ie  where would be a good place to stop the convergence of the enemy forces. There were few decent routes to cross the Pennines and the battle remains near a roman road on Extwistle Moor, to the east of what is now Burnley seems likely.

https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/terence-park/burnley/paperback/product-15gryqem.html

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Door Witch – Welcome to Earth


Door Witch is an Isekai adventure – an adventure in another world. It is influenced by Anime and RPGs. From a certain point of view it is a Western view of the Light Novel phenomenon in Japan, with a twist of realism – Shouju (slice of life). The narrative is in the form of alternating first person point of view. The main characters are Sivitya (she’s the Door Witch) and Alan Bates (he plays online games and one of his avatars is Akalito).  That’s all you need to know for this extract.

(this is an entry for the July 2020 competition run by Telegraph Creative Writers Group)

Chapter 1 Welcome to Earth

Sivitya: Earthly Manifestation

I put worry behind me; I had the number so I called.

Brr, brr… brr, brr.

The sound was novel…normally response was instant. I listened longer.

Brr, brr… brr, brr. Click.

He’d rejected the call! He didn’t want to talk to me. For a moment I was lost, then my resolve kicked in. I had to call him. This was important. I entered the number again.

Brr, brr… brr, brr.

A voice at the other end said, “Hullo?” Was that Akalito?

“Akalito? It’s me—” Continue reading

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Door Witch – Isekai


The new Facebook interface is on me and my PC – still XP based – is huffing and puffing at the shear additional processing power required – more broadband bloat. As of now I’m refocussing my energies onto Photoshopping the artwork I received for my Door Witch project. I learned a new Japanese word from my Indonesian artist – Isekai – journey to / adventure in another world. ArtKapele 
artkapele
The feedback from my editor (Stephen Cashmore) is good – suggesting that this is the best work I’ve put through him so far. However, to get the illustrations into their final form, ready for publishing, isn’t a quick and easy task as, once again, I call upon the might power of Photoshop Elements to help me in the quest for perfect (or at least half-way decent) final form.
Big job! and more than the 2 or 3 days quoted by Gopher in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh. So it’s goodbye to the writing for a while, and a big welcome to Elements 2.
Att are illustrations from the first six episodes.
No photo description available.
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Where Now For BP?


On 13/02/2020 Energy Voice headlined with

BP’s boss hailed for taking oil giant in very different direction

as new boss Bernard Looney committed BP to seriously addressing the environmental impact of the use of its products by customers.

Luke Parker at Wood Mackenzie pointed out that the the plans marked a complete “turnaround” in the company’s position, that though BP was only dealing in “ambitions” at this stage, rather than firm targets, the scale of the commitment put BP “towards the top of the pack” along with Repsol and Equinor.

Mr Parker added: “This will see BP’s business completely transformed over the coming decades: renewables and carbon abatement will get very big, legacy oil and gas will eventually get smaller.

BP announced last week it would cut 10,000 employees, most of which will be this year. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

 

In the Daily Telegraph (29/06/20) there was confirmation of BP’s direction of travel as it announced it was selling its global petrochemicals business to billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe for $5bn (£4bn) as the oil titan continues its push away from fossil fuels

BP’s boss hailed for taking oil gaint in very different direction

However despite the current mood of the majors to distance themselves from petrochemicals, there are few signs of an alternative energy business. This should be of particular concern to investors in BP who will need hard evidence of how it plans fund a dividend stream aimed squarely at US and UK pension funds.

BP - Sir Jim Ratcliffe - image from DT

BP – Sir Jim Ratcliffe – image from DT

Jim Ratcliffe buys BP’s petrochemicals division for $5bn

Last week (24/06/20) Norway announced it was opening new blocks in the Barents Sea (Norway plans big expansion of Arctic oil exploration). Maybe this is a new opportunity for BP. If not, it remains to be seen just what shape the future business of BP will take. Analysts expect BP to follow in the footsteps of rival Shall and cut its dividend.

Drilling Rig - general view (Reuters)

Drilling Rig – general view (Reuters)

In my book, the only logical move for the board will be to return the funds to its shareholders as it winds down its operations. Ambitions to achieve net zero by 2050 do not form a compelling business plan.

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Door Witch 2


And just like that the day ends. I’d planned to take a picture of the washing up and maybe a shot or two going for a walk but instead I watched the first two episodes of The Tale of Nokdu. The nuance is the play on non-Western mores and the Audio, which is Korean only – English sub-titles (but that’s two hours down the pan).
Anyway I’ve caught up on a mini-archive update – basically listing the pieces written from April 2017 up to date. It was a lot more than I thought – getting on for 50 pieces including this piece written November 2019; it’s from Door Witch 2 which is done as a travelogue in the form of a haibun. A haibun is narrative blended with haiku as in The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Bashō.
* * * * * *
In the morning Akalito rose early. By the time I was awake, he’d prepared our morning meal.
“It’s rice again, I’m afraid,” he said.
I went to the stream and washed away the last of the night. I imagined distant Fuji towering over us but we were still far from that place. On the way back I saw plum trees. They proved to be wild but I picked a few of the ripest fruit and brought them back to Akalito.
“Thank you, Sivi,” he said. Properly it should have been ‘Thank you, Sivitya’ but we were well into our journey.
We ate.
Wild plums sweet and tart
Give thanks for the land’s harvest
To season plain rice
He was gone but the Sun still shone. I admired the colours of the flowers and bent down to sniff each scent. When would he return? I didn’t know exactly but it would be soon. Blue skies smiled down on my way back to the village. I studied each stone and muddy pool, careless of splashes as I leapt from one to the next.
A soft cloud gradually broke free from the hills – it was a bed where we might lay. I chuckled. Thatched roofs came into view. Soon I would see Iroscita at the Academy, but I wouldn’t tell her. Not yet. Wait for Akalito’s return.
 
Day four
Wood burn smell
Hill conquered
Fuji panorama
Distant crow call
Lazy flight
Smoke rose
Grey-green smudge
Smashed rice fields
* * * * * *
Door Witch 2 isn’t complete yet. but Door Witch will be out in a few months. https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81279108
The Tale of Nokdu
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A Netflix binge watch isn’t just a timesink


I’ve just decided on my next short story – I had a bit of a trawl through my archive of unfinished works but decided to do something new instead. My plan is to complete it over next week, which probably means side lining my current WIP (Men for the Stars) which is 30k words). Once I’ve decided what to do, I’m ready to motor on. I usually do 4 short stories a year and one longer work. 🙂 
I meant to say something about the process of writing, sparked by a comment from Karen Eisenbrey, on the Squirrel but that can wait for another time.

So Hey! It’s the weekend, there’s football + tons of Japanese and South Koran goodies on Netflix to watch _ I’m currently catching up on Food Wars and I’ve had a 7 episode binge watch on today – this has helped crystallize the theme of my new short story. The interesting thing that struck me was the explanation of the recipes – and yes, it’s Anime so it’s exaggerated; but it works.

Soma from Food Wars
Soma from Food Wars
Splash - Main Characters in Food Wars
This is s Splash Image of the Main Characters in Food Wars

plus: I decided to update my catalogue (always a presage to a time of changes [A Time of Changes was a short novel by Barry N Malzberg in the 70s – I still have my paperback edition])

The image below is from the family home 15 years back, and helped spawn a scene-feature on my now paused WIP.

image from the family home in 2007
Image from the family home in 2007

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