Refocussing the Writing

Refocussing the Writing

The original aim of this blog was to show the process by which I changed from being an aspiring writer to the point where I became a professional author.   The idea behind this is simple: There are many aspiring authors out there.  By sharing, I hope to help and encourage others who are involved in the same activity.

Over time my personal goals have remained the same, but the methods of achieving them have changed.  For instance, most of my writing these days is freelance and this is an unexpected direction for me to have taken.  While I will always consider myself a “wannabe” author until my first book is published I can no longer say that I am inexperienced as a writer.  So, progress has been made, but is it in the right direction?

Freelance Activities

Most of my recent activities have involved either writing “copy” for others, or developing websites – which is really also copywriting, but with me as the client.  Writing copy as a freelance is actually more dependable than any other form of writing I have tried so far.  Even though I feel my standard of English and grammar usage is still lacking, it is possible to make some money.  The income is small, but at least it is there.  It will no doubt grow over time.

I still want to be a science fiction author, but I really have no control over when this will occur.  It depends on when an editor thinks my work is worthy of publishing.  So, unless I want to write a blog about rejection letters received from publishers, there needs to be content produced on other subjects.

This is a Science Fiction Writing Blog, or is it?

Regular readers of this blog will know that I recently changed a number of things in order to speed up page load times and make the blog more user-friendly generally.   While I was carrying this out I had a look at the blog using Google webmaster tools.  This tool gives you an idea how Google sees your blog and thereby how likely it is that folks interested in the activities of an aspiring science fiction writer will find your site.

What I found out shocked me.

This site ranks best in Google for…chess clothing!  OMG!

(I don’t normally use net abbreviations while writing this blog, but here it is probably for the best.  What I actually said is unprintable.)

How Can Science Fiction and Chess be Confused?

So how can a science fiction writer’s blog rank best for chess clothing?  Well, quite easily apparently.

I allowed myself to go off topic in two areas:  I posted about the subject of chess clothing a few times and secondly I have more chess links on the site than writing links.  [Note: Shortly after this post goes live I will be removing the offending links.]  The reason I included them at all (before I knew better) was that I wanted to show other aspects of who I am.  A pure writing blog seemed a bit one dimensional.  I now realise that writing about wider areas has a strange effect on Google’s search bot.  Alas, although the search algorithms in use by Google are designed by highly intelligent people, there is still no AI – it remains science fiction! 🙂

New Computer Chess Blog – Coming soon!

During recent weeks I have opened a number of new websites and so the process has become increasingly easy and straightforward.  When I realised that my interest in chess was taking the site “off message”, as the politicians are fond of saying, I decided to correct it by opening a new blog site about computer chess.  The cost of doing so is merely the price of a domain registration as I already pay for hosting.

This new site should mean that I can still say the things I want to on the subject of computer chess, but this blog will be better focussed on what it was originally set up to do:  Detail the process of growing from a science fiction “wannabe” into a full-time, professional writer.

Of course, right now the site is merely a few lines of blue text, but then this page started life like that too.

Wish me luck.

Dave Felton

Posted in Chess, Internet, Marketing, Science Fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social Networking with Facebook and Twitter

Social Networking with Facebook and Twitter

I recently made a large mistake:  I underestimated the power of social networking sites.  It is an old cliché to say that the world is shrinking but when I posted my recent article about events at Wooton Bassett I never thought that anyone would contact me from that town.  Of course I had forgotten that I had recently installed a Twitter feed and a Facebook link-up to this site.

I thank that lady for her kind words in the comments of that post.  She shed some light on a subject that I knew little about: how the whole process of the town honouring the dead came about.  This would never have happened without that newly installed Twitter feed.

On that note I must offer apologies to regular readers of this site.  My connection to the internet is currently a 10meg broadband line.  As this is a relatively fast connection I had absolutely no idea that the site was so slow to load for many of you.  Hopefully this new theme and a few optimisations will make it load much quicker.

Facebook and Twitter Feeds now Integrated

The inclusion of Facebook and Twitter as features of this site is part of an ongoing project to link various parts of my writing activities together.  The idea is that it will make it possible for me to manage these activities without logging into dozens of websites every day.  As I am still in the process of constructing more websites for other purposes, I thought it better to get this aspect sorted out sooner rather than later.

My personal Facebook account currently numbers about 300+ friends, some I know in real life and many I do not.  What I love about social networking sites like Facebook is the opportunity to meet and chat to people that I would not otherwise meet.  So far my experiences on Facebook have been 100% positive and I don’t really expect that to change.

In common with many users, when I started on Facebook my friends list was restricted to those that I had met personally.  A real life friend, who is also an aspiring writer, put my thinking straight on this.  He pointed that social networking is a great thing, especially for us introverted writer types!

Dangers of Social Networking

The media in Britain today is almost constantly full of horror stories about social networking sites and the paedophiles and other predators that apparently inhabit them.  This media pressure means that many people refuse friend requests from people unless they know them.  I think that this is missing the real benefits that social networking sites like Facebook offer, namely the chance to meet new and (hopefully) interesting people.

Of course that is not to say that real dangers do not exist from some members on these sites, but that is where education (about the risks of meeting total strangers) and parenting comes in, surely?  I cannot for the life of me understand what has gone wrong in Britain today that every time there is some perceived “evil” in society the government attempts to pass a new law to quell the moral panic.  Has democracy in Britain always been so fearful?  Have we really lost the ability to look after our own family members?

Dave Felton

PS.  For what it is worth, look me up on Facebook anytime and ask to add me as a friend.  I have no problem with it at all.  What I cannot promise is to do respond in depth to every message, but I will try to help if I can.

Facebook Profile

Posted in Internet, Personal | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wootton Bassett Bikers Raise over £100,000 for Armed Forces Charity

Wootton Bassett Bikers Raise over £100,000 for Armed Forces Charity – Afghan Heroes

I normally try to stay out of politics on my blog but just this once I want to comment on something happening as I write this: about 15,000 bikers are riding through Wootton Bassett in support of British Armed Forces.  This ride is for fund raising purposes and is expected to raise at least £100,000 for charity in support of British troops (Afghan Heroes).

It is a really refreshing change to see two things on British television.

  • A positive attitude toward supporting our military
  • Reasonable and relatively unbiased coverage of bikers

BBC article on the Wootton Bassett Bikers:

Media Coverage of the Military

In Britain the military has often been portrayed in a negative light. This sad situation is a direct responsibility of the writers of the dramas that portray them like this and the journalists that seek to spin events in a negative light.  As I am an aspiring writer myself, I feel duty bound to speak out on this.

The media has historically seemed unable to determine a difference between supporting our armed forces and supporting the conflict they are engaged in.  There have been many conflicts that the British military have been engaged in during my lifetime that I do not personally agree with but I can see that the military does the will of parliament under authority of the Crown.

As Britain is a democracy, if we do not like the wars that our armed forces are engaged in then we need to criticise the government that caused them to be so engaged and not the lads and lasses that risk their lives in service of our country.

Supporting the armed forces is not the same thing as supporting idiocy in foreign policy.

Bikers in the media

Again, writers and the media in general seems only too happy to break out age old stereotypes when it comes to discussing anyone that uses two wheels and a motor for transport.

Here is a news flash for those lazy writers:  “Easy Rider” was released over three decades ago, get over it and look at what is happening TODAY!

Portraying anyone who rides a motorbike as an undesirable is absurd these days.  We are told of the dangers of global warming and bikes have a far smaller carbon footprint than cars.  How often is this mentioned in the media?

I live in an area where every Easter the local bikers would organise a run to our local hospital and bring eggs for the kids on the wards there.  This was so successful that in the end there were too many eggs and so it turned into a charity run, for cash not eggs.  This charity run continued to grow until the council pulled the plug on the run when the police said it was costing too much to police the route and the council would not pay.  The fact that it was raising tens of thousands of pounds for children’s charities did not seem be a factor in that decision.

A More Sensible Attitude Prevails

I do not know what happened in the media to actually start covering the parades that spontaneously occurred in Wootton Bassett when our war dead were flown home, but I welcome the change.  Those that decry the military would often be the first to demand protection if the country was invaded.  The recent coverage was such a pleasant change of tone by the BBC I felt I had to comment.

I can even forgive the BBC television reporter that commented that nobody was objecting to the smell of diesel after the bikes had passed.  Poor boy, he didn’t even know that bike’s don’t run on diesel…

Dave Felton

Posted in Personal | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments