Monday, 25 November 2013

A Tale of Two Airports

It seems some pilots got confused last week, and landed a gigantic cargo plane on a runway far too small for it. Still, they took off again without too much ado. The required runway length can vary with the freight load and amount of fuel in the tanks, so it wasn't that much of a big deal. Pretty funny though how they managed to get the two airports mixed up. More details at with tweets and pics as it happened.

Publisher’s Life 3: Your Website

If you’re serious about getting into business, you’ll need a professional static website to be your online business card. This should be a reader’s go-to source for information about your books and authors, and anything else you can think of that would interest your audience.

The front page is very, very important – especially in terms of what appears “above the fold”, or the first screen a viewer will see without scrolling down. This area is your first impression and should showcase what you are and what you do. In my case, it’s the business name at the top (as on all pages) followed by some fancy script programming to make my book covers float across the screen – which became necessary as soon as I had published several titles and they would no longer fit in a static arrangement. Below that I have one of our intro videos, a very brief description of us, and a link to more information about me as the boss. I feel that all these things together give a good impression of our overall angle when someone first arrives on our site.

There are many other pages too. One for each author, with a biography carefully honed by the team; one for each book; a Bookshop with links to buy our titles; a contact page, a submissions page, and pages for each of our genres, collections and projects. That may sound like a lot, but it all built up over time, project by project and author by author.

One page is probably enough to begin with, if you make sure it looks clean, professional and inviting.

Daily Doctor: 7 Reactions to the 50th Anniversary (SPOILERS)

Ahem. Don't go any further now if you haven't seen the big event yet. Go on, get away - trust me, you do NOT want to spoil it for yourself.










Okay? Okay.

Now that it's been a full day (at time of writing) since my first viewing of the special, it's time to lay down a few first thoughts. This will be pretty random; expect more coherent logic at a later date.

1 - The thing I most looked forward to was the return of the Tenth, and he did not disappoint. He says he's 904, which puts it a year or so after Voyage of the Damned - he's alone so it's after Donna, and likely right before The End of Time. Was anyone else sad that his hair was stubbornly plastered down on top?

2 - The Other Doctors. Billie Piper called it "a gift to the fans" and I think she nailed it. Of course I mean the thing with Gallifrey, not the mannequins in the final scene.

3 - Speaking of Billie - intriguing role. I did suspect she might not be exactly Rose. This was kinda fun but I would have liked her to show herself to Ten just once, to see his reaction.

4 - Speaking of Gallifrey - now THAT was an epic twist. Changing history without ruining the Doctor's own past since that time. The look on 11's face when the Curator puts it in his head is pure delight.

5 - Speaking of the Curator - Talk about cake for the fans! And the curious little things he said. Whatever could they mean?

6 - How the heck would a non-Whovian understand any of that? I'm curious if it's even possible - with all the hype, there are sure to have been some first-timers among the viewers.

7 - The 3D. It was pretty good actually. Enjoyed that. And the little 3D intro by 10 and 11. And that other little intro by Strax. Cinema-only intros, for you TV folks, but I'm sure they'll show up online somewhere.

More soon...

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Reality TV with Writers??

Long there have been jokes about a reality show for writers, similar to the ones there are for singers. But now it's actually happening for the first time - and it's in Italy. Now I've seen everything.

Read the flabbergasting details at

If you're a writer, would you participate?

Photo Story: Old Piano

This piano stood in the entryway of the house I lived in in 2009. The flatmates were mostly pretty awesome and there was a cool view of the sea (distantly, but there). The children of the house were meant to be having lessons but I don’t think I ever heard them practising. I do recall a few hours spent at it myself attempting to play Star Trek music or electronica, neither of which worked very well, but that’s likely because while I know a bit of theory, I’m not a piano player at all.

I liked how the ivory was sometimes worn or lost, yet it did not affect the instrument’s sound at all. Outward appearances are so minor in the scheme of things, aren’t they?

Daily Doctor: Redecoration Regeneration

Picking up on a theme from last weekend, here are various incarnations of the Doctor speaking a familiar line. There may even be more than this...

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Ireland: Beautiful Clogherhead from above

Clogherhead is one of the loveliest Irish places I've had the privilege of visiting. There's a little fishing village with a trailer park alongside thatched cottages, and a long, wide beach that vanishes in the mists. But it is the "head" itself that I found most captivating, with its ever-varying rocky shores that frame views across to Northern Ireland and the open Irish Sea. I was making sure I had the spelling correct when I came across this video, recorded by a remote control plane operator... wonderful stuff. Full screen is a must!


I am not built to handle conflict. I suppose none of us are, if it comes to that, but my past makes it especially difficult for me to face. I have unplugged my phone, turned off my mobile, and changed a few online settings. Some people are better at dealing with this stuff. Well, that ain’t me. The first sign of a raised voice or attack to my person and I threaten to shatter into a million pieces.

Someone has chosen to hate me (or certainly to act like it) and make my life difficult. Yes, we have a full-blown personality clash, though they had that with more than just me. I do not understand how someone can so fully abdicate their personal responsibility and then hurl insults and threats on top of that. Well, be it on their conscience, though it’s still me, not them, who has to deal with the consequences.

So please forgive me if I am a little fragile for some time to come. It takes me a long while to recover from conflict, because it is absolute horror to me – trauma, essentially, like a deep wound to the soul. Perhaps someday I will heal enough to be able to withstand these things better, but in the meantime, don’t mind me if I hide away for a while.

Daily Doctor: Moffat on Numbering (SPOILERS)

Don't go any further if you're not up to date. You've been warned.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

The introduction of a new(ish?) Timelord at the end of Series 7 was a shock for all of us, and speculation started up immediately as people wondered where he fitted into the timeline and what it would do to the existing nomenclature. Well, Moffat tells us the new-old dude doesn't have a number at all, so he won't disrupt anything. He just doesn't count.

Whew, I'm glad I won't have to change how I say who is my favourite. Still, I've seen some fans in forums beginning to do so. Totally confusing...

Read the whole interview with Moffat here:

Friday, 22 November 2013

Astronomy: A Very Quiet Sun

From One-Minute Astronomer comes the lowdown on what's been going on with the Sun. Apparently it's having an abnormal cycle - right now it should be having loads of spots, but it's not. It means less auroras but also less interference for satellites. But it's not the first time this has happened. Have a read about the phenomenon here:

Thor 2 - Movie Review

I have grown to enjoy the Marvel movies over the years, and this one was no exception. There was a LOT of smashing stuff up and battles and such, but it wasn’t the entire story, for which I am grateful. Anyway, there were a bunch of new and challenging situations for our heroes and our villains, and a whole lot of new scenery and effects. This film accomplishes quite a few things that we know we subconsciously wanted to see – Thor getting back together with Jane, Thor and Loki being brothers again, even an almost-nameless intern throwing a Mini is a rather delightful touch. I do feel sorry for Christopher Eccleston having to play such a stereotypical villain with short, trite speeches and most of those in a made-up language. Still, I guess it makes a change for him to be attacking London instead of saving it.
Fun movie, with an ending that implies a lot more to come.

Daily Doctor: The Fez, Just Because

No words needed.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Star Trek Onesie

Does your newborn have aspirations to the captain's chair? Or more to the point, do you have those aspirations for your offspring? Well, now they can impersonate Picard in no time. Not sure what happens when they grow out of this, though. I admit to some disappointment on clicking through that this wasn't a grown-up onesie, as have become very popular for sleepwear at least on this side of the world...

Author Spotlight: Adam & Andrea Graham

I met Adam and Andrea online in 2006 while the Lost Genre Guild was forming. Andrea became a critique partner for my first novel, while I read some of hers and her husband’s. It must have been very early on that I read Adam’s draft of Tales of the Dim Knight, and I loved it – comic book action with super-hilarious scenarios. Many years later when I started Splashdown I remembered it and asked if he’d consider working with me. It was my idea to add Andrea’s name on the front, since she’d done so much editing on the project, and anyway, isn’t a husband-and-wife writing team just the coolest thing?

The book has tended to polarise readers – either they love it or they hate it. I think that’s better than a so-so reaction. Adam and Andrea have gone on to self-publish the sequels as well as a number of other things.

So if you appreciate the zany and enjoy a bit of superhero slapstick, check it out!

I’ve visited Adam and Andrea twice at home in Idaho, and we had a great time touring the botanical gardens, fantasy hotel, museum and aquarium.

Daily Doctor: Preview with fez! (Non-spoilery)

This is just too cool. A two-minute excerpt from what seems to be the actual anniversary episode. Not too spoilery this time, even if you aren't fully caught up.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Arrows Across America

I read recently about these huge concrete arrows that were laid out every 10 miles from coast to coast across the USA in 1924. Their purpose: to help guide the postal planes on their long journey. A beacon was also attached to a tower to ensure the arrow's visibility from high altitudes.
Read more at - with thanks to DeAnna for this one!

A Summer in Ireland

Ahhh… That summer was the deep breath of my life at the time. I had just gotten away from Germany and all the oppression associated with my years there – I needed something really amazing to put me in a new frame of mind. And it did. I looked online to find a room to rent, and connected with Alison in Balbriggan, who promised me a sea view from my room and a beach just a few steps away across the field.

When I arrived in that fresh lushness, it was a balm to my ragged spirit, and I continued to write my current novel, Legendary Space Pilgrims, with new inspiration. Some readers say they can tell when my mindset changed along with my location.

But writing wasn’t all I did. At a tiny local church I met a new friend and we proceeded to go on lots of outings together – mostly day trips in the area around Dublin, but also a couple of weekends away in the West and North. Andrea has since become a good friend and we’ve visited back and forth a few times too.

Looking at the pictures I took back then, I’m amazed at the huge variety of places I got to see, the stunning vistas, the rocky shores (I was showing the album to someone recently and she asked me, why so many pictures of rocks? I suppose that’s what the coast is mainly made of…), the castles and ruins, the green land in its mantle of fecund humidity.

I love Ireland, and I can’t wait to get back there someday.

Daily Doctor: Trailer Analysis

Chris Lough at has done a lovely breakdown of lots of things we can see in last week's trailer. Not least of which appears to be the Tenth Doctor on a horse. It probably isn't David Tennant, because we know they didn't let him ride the horse for real in Girl in the Fireplace (could this be the same horse, story-wise?). But the suit is the right colour, and the TARDIS interior matches, too.
Anyway, have a read of the other observations at

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A little something for the cat people among us...

I haven't had a cat who does this... but I can imagine it! This fellow looks quite proud of his stash, and a little worried that it could be cleaned up...

What can a Facebook List do for you?

[last updated August 2018]

Have you ever been annoyed about the selection of items that land in your News Feed? We know Facebook has algorithms that decide which posts to show you, based on how popular they are and other factors. Early on in the history of the Feed, I grew annoyed at missing things from good friends, just because their posts didn’t have loads of likes or comments or because I hadn’t talked to them recently.

Enter the List. Facebook has this option to help you organise your friends. You can make as many lists as you want - I have two main ones, one is tiny for when time is tight, the other a little larger.

How to start your list: From your main page, go down the left sidebar until you see the heading called Explore. Under that is an item called Friend Lists. Click on that, then on "Create List".

A window pops up for you to name your list and add people. Don't worry about remembering everyone, you can go back and change list members later (or just make a new list). Include all the people whose posts you never want to miss. When you’re done, click Create and the magic begins to happen.

Now you are redirected and will land on “on” the list page. Take a look at your browser’s address bar – that’s the list’s unique web address. Go ahead and bookmark that link, stick it on a button in your bookmarks bar…

Then, anytime you want to go to FB, just click that button and you’ll go straight to the most recent posts from your prioritised people.

It’s certainly very useful once you get more than a few hundred contacts. Inevitably, you’ll know some better than others, and be closer to some than others. Those not chosen can still interact with you on your posts, and there’s nothing stopping you from clicking through to the regular feed anytime you like.

I currently have about 200 people on the lists that I keep up with completely. That’s about as much as I can manage from day to day. To everyone else, I’m very sorry – but I far prefer this solution to unfriending you! I still want to keep you in my wider circles and maybe someday something deeper will spark.

Ah, but who is on this list of yours, I hear you ask?

Nope. That’s my secret!


Yes, this is that exciting. No, you're not allowed to watch it if you haven't seen The Name of the Doctor, the last episode of Series 7, because this will spoil that utterly. Why did I shout in the title? Because it's really that big of a deal...

Monday, 18 November 2013

Time Travel Theory

This isn't a Doctor Who post, actually. I read an article on about time travel as it is portrayed in movies, and what kinds of various consequences it is shown to cause. They really should have mentioned the Doctor, since they included Bill and Ted, and we all know where they got the phone box idea from - right?

So, time travel. With or without consequences. Or self-consistency, which is another way to say that everything will turn out the same no matter what you do, because history dictates it. (Fixed points in time, anyone?)

Have a read at

Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

[Let me give a brief preface in case such is required. I know there are those among my friends who strongly dislike this author because of his opinions on matters unrelated to literature. For an answer to that, please read John Scalzi's post (language warning), because he states the facts very clearly - essentially, somebody's views do not preclude them from writing well, and it is possible to divorce the art from the artist.]

I read Ender's Game last year and very much enjoyed the buildup of tensions and the bombshell ending. So I am excited about the movie and want to see it sometime soon. Discovering the existence of Ender's Shadow, a parallel novel, I wanted to read it to get me in the mood. Besides, I love parallelity.

It's the same story, but from another viewpoint: that of Bean, a very small child who is very, very clever. Impossibly so - seeing right through most situations and strategies immediately. So clever that he figures most things out in advance with hardly an effort. Yet his size is a disadvantage when his brains bring him superiority over boys much bigger than him. The smart ones learn to respect his skills.

Remember that bombshell ending in Ender's Game? It's no surprise to Bean. He knew what was happening all along.

Anyway, the movie effects look great - time to check it out soon, I think.

Daily Doctor: David's Sad Farewell

It's interesting now to look back at David's departure in light of the fact that he is returning in less than a week!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Show me your USA Road Trips

This link has been going around Facebook especially in the past couple of weeks. Though I don't live in the country, I think this is a great way to record where I've been and for approximately how long.

My key to the colouring:

Red: passed through (on a bus or train or airport layover)
Orange: short stay (a few days)
Blue: long stay (a week or more)
Green: Several weeks.

I realised after making it that Colorado should be blue, as I have spent more than a week there in total. But I'm not going back to start over and recolour all the other states too, so there we have it.

Make your own at

Author Spotlight: P. A. Baines

Paul is one of very few Splashdown authors that I haven’t actually met in person – although I hope to remedy that on my next jaunt to Europe. He lives in Holland, you see, somewhere I’ve not been since I was a tot on tour with my parents.

We met online in 2010, that much I do know. However, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I have absolutely no recollection as to what the venue might have been. Surely a writers’ group of some description.

Paul is the only other Brit on my team – so I enjoy his “proper” spelling and particular sense of wit. At times we have noticed that we write fairly similarly, so this may be a result of the British thing plus science fiction plus literary style and so on. In any case, I covet his input on my own writing.

We’ve had some grand old fun, so we have, in the time of our acquaintance – not least of which, the infamous Anvil Interview conducted by our own Diane Graham. With cheesecake.

Paul’s first book won two medals at the Indie Awards, and we’re nearly ready to publish his second, which blows the framework of the first all to pieces along with your mind. You won’t want to miss it!

Visit Paul's website at

Daily Doctor: You've Redecorated

Here's another set of shots from the trailer. It's always fun when they dig up in-jokes from the past. In this case, a line that has been spoken on the show a number of times before. And once again... behold their faces!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Really Weird Asteroid

Recent Hubble Telescope investigations discovered this asteroid that isn't behaving as an asteroid should. That is to say, an asteroid doesn't usually have a tail like a comet - but this one does, and not only that, but it has six of them. Theories include that it could be spinning to cause this. Read more at

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Asked to describe this story, my one-word reaction is “disturbing”. I suppose dystopia always is, but the sense of foreboding and captivity here is so oppressive that it overpowers everything else.

I was very annoyed with the author because she basically doesn’t tell us anything at all. I’ve heard that too much backstory is bad, of course, but none at all really made me mad. There is simply this highly regimented life where everything is controlled: from the clothes you must wear for your status in society, to the tasks assigned to that status, and especially everything surrounding the act of breeding, which one gathers has become rare and sacrosanct, but without being told the hows or whys.

At the same time there are hints of flashbacks that begin very vague and become progressively more specific as the book goes on. This is all a reader has to go on to figure out what has happened in apparently just a few years to shift the normal-sounding society, in the flashbacks, into the horrible yet whitewashed existence of the story’s present day.

It’s all very surreal. The tale of one woman only, with not a clue as to the bigger picture or the inciting incident for the societal transformation. Making it even more surreal is the epilogue, a transcribed speech by a professor some hundred years later, speaking about the story itself. And this is where you find all that elusive background information that actually explains what’s going on.

Perhaps it was more creepy to leave all of that unsaid before the epilogue. It certainly creeped me out; I dreamed about the story twice in the days after reading it. I admire an author being able to do that, even though I can’t say I enjoyed the reading of it very much. I can see why this won a Hugo – such a completely haunting story is rare.

Daily Doctor: Screwdriver Showoffs

Because we all want to relive this scene from the trailer. Over... and over... and over again. Oh, their faces!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Olympic Torch in Space

Last Saturday, the Olympic torch had a most unusual relay handoff - on a spacewalk. Read the whole story at Surely the torch couldn't have been lit, though... right?

Publisher’s Life 2: Getting the dream rolling

Once I knew I wanted to get into publishing, and I knew what my niche was, it remained to research exactly how this could work. I wanted to use a different printer than the one I had back when I self-published, and I eventually landed on Lightning Source as what seems to be the industry standard for independent digital publishing.

I had this in mind as I continued swapping critiques with various people, most in the Lost Genre Guild. One of these was Fred, and as I read his story, I began to believe that this would make a fantastic opening title for my line. I asked him if he was interested, and the rest is history.

Then I needed a name for my business. I didn’t really have many options in mind, because once Splashdown suggested itself, there wasn’t room for anything else. I’m crazy about water, and it’s also got to do with space travel, so that was that.

Next time: Setting up a website.

Daily Doctor: Action Trailer 2

This is sort of an extended version of the shorter one I posted yesterday. While some of the footage is the same, a good deal of it is not, and it gives more context to the rest in any case.

Again, all sorts of fun things to spot. Mostly facial expressions in the interactions between the 10th and 11th Doctors. Because face it, that is the thing most of us are looking forward to... right?

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Amazing Places: Tulips from above

Photographer Anna Paulowna took a scenic flight over some Dutch tulip fields. The results are pure eye candy. Check out the whole collection at

Photo Story: Golden Gate Bridge

This picture is from my trip in 2008. I was staying at the hostel near Fisherman’s Wharf, and walked all the way around the coast to this ocean beach. On the way I ventured a little distance onto the bridge, but the sheer height was freaking me out rather a lot so I turned back and continued on terra firma. The coastal pathway begins right by the bridge if I remember rightly, and it’s littered with old wartime defence installations on the cliffs. Farther along there are steps down to the sea. Nice to have places like this so close to the city – San Francisco reminds me of Auckland in a lot of ways.

Daily Doctor: Action Trailer 1

This trailer was leaked last Saturday a little earlier than the BBC intended. It's the first one showing real action from the movie, and it does not disappoint. A horse leaping out of the TARDIS? Rose's eyes glow - is that the return of the Bad Wolf? Clara with a Vortex Manipulator?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Hobbit: Misty Mountain Song

I rather like this song and the feel of the whole clip, so although it's from last year, I'm sure you'll enjoy it...

There is a new song for the upcoming second movie, but I watched it and found the clips quite disturbing. This movie is going to be very, very violent and fiery, notwithstanding the odd fact that both Sherlock and John are in it. If you want to check it out, it's at - but consider yourself warned.

Splashdown Updates

The pile of things to do certainly didn’t get any less during the weeks I’ve been sick, but slowly I’ve begun to attack them. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

·         Cover design for Rob McClain’s Isles of Myst – The concept involves a castle and some Celtic knotwork, and has been going around in my head for most of the year. It proved more difficult than I thought to make it real, but it’s well under way even though it’s not quite ready for the public eye. All in good time!
·         Editing and bits and bobs for Aquasynthesis II. The final stories are in, the narration is complete, and I’m in the process of inserting each tale into the overall manuscript. Then will follow full editing on the piece as a whole. The cover isn’t far off ready either – similar to the first, but coloured differently.
·         Final copyedits on Paul Baines’ Alpha Revelation. The cover is ready here, thanks to Zoe, and there’s not much left to do.
·         Awaiting more actual submissions from authors I spoke to at conferences this year; three New Zealanders (yay!) plus a goodly number from Realm Makers.

Somehow it feels better to look at each of these individually instead of at the humungous “publish three books as soon as possible” – which is also applicable, but these are the steps that will get me there.

Daily Doctor: The Lost Tales, #1

It was all over the news last month that two whole serials of the Second Doctor were found in Africa, stories that were previously lost. And now they are out on DVD, remarkably quick work I might add.

Anyway, Neil and Sue Perryman from "Adventures with the Wife in Space" (in which a fanboy husband convinced his New-Series-only wife to watch every Who episode from 1963 on, and recorded her remarks about it) have added their witty review of the first story, The Web of Fear, to the pool. Don't mind their long-windedness, that's kind of the fun part. You'll hear all sorts of comments relating to other British TV and suchlike.

Check it out at

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Amazing Places: Ireland Instagram

I recently came across a lovely Instagram feed from Abarta Audioguides in Ireland. They've got an awesome collection of shots of those old ruins and landscapes that give Ireland its ancient mystique. Check it out at

Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey

Right, so I liked what I saw when I dipped into the world of Pern a couple of times previously. So I wanted to go to the beginning of the story and find out how it all began. Now I realise this is not the book she wrote first, it came much later, and some readers caution against beginning here. Ah well. It certainly makes a great introduction.

It begins aboard a spaceship in its final weeks of travel to a new home. There are plenty of personal threads and wider political issues as the cram-packed ship prepares to land. Chronicles follow of the first years of settling in, of new discoveries and homemaking on a brand new planet.

Then comes a threat from space: a deadly dangerous bacterial life form that destroys everything organic it falls on. Witness the battle as the people fight for their settlements and find ways to stay safe – including the daring genetic engineering of a local lizard into what we know as dragons.

Many of the cultural practices seen in later books are shown here at their birth. Names of first colonists become names of settlements. I loved following the journey of Irish Sean and Sorka in particular, from their childhood to becoming the first Dragonriders.

Great read. I’ll be returning to Pern again soon.

Daily Doctor: Let the Trailers Begin!

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to be bombarding you with trailers this week, since I've been out of commission while these were all coming out. This one was the first of the recent batch, and though I was all clogged up and feverish and dizzy, seeing this did make me feel better! It's got a lovely assortment of memorabilia floating about the place - see if you can spot the fez, the jelly babies, various sonic screwdrivers, K9, Clara's leaf, and much more...

Monday, 11 November 2013

Thoroughly Interrupted

Well, hello again. You might guess from one of my last posts that I came down with a particularly nasty bug. It turned out to be a chest infection thingy, also with fever, and that pretty much scuttled any plans I had for my brain to do anything. For weeks, as you can see. I’ve also got laryngitis and haven’t spoken a word in 4 weeks or so. Whispered, yes, but it’s not quite the same. Weird.

Anyway, time to start over, and on a Monday, no less. This forced break from blogging and writing and publishing has allowed me to step back and look at it all a little more objectively – not from the inside, as it were. I’ve recognised that there are certain strategies that make my work easier from day to day – for example, it’s a much better use of time to write and schedule all my blog posts a week’s worth at a time, rather than scrambling for something every evening. It’s also better to view my publishing tasks bit by bit, rather than the whole schamassel which can certainly seem overpowering at times.

So here’s to the next round of Daily Doctor, Photo Story, Reading Challenge, and whatever else I can cook up for you here.