Tag Archives: copywriting

Friday Photo Blogging: pine and pole

What better warm-up for a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK than some random photo from a guy who knows nothing about photography, eh? Here’s some kind of pine tree down on Southsea Common:

Pines and poles against the sky

I can’t help but feel it would have been a more interesting shot had I been able to zoom in closer, but I’m still a bit cagey about taking more than one lens with me at a time – swapping them over in the great outdoors seems like an open invitation to getting dust and crap on the sensor, and getting that sorted isn’t cheap. Still, if I want to improve my photographic chops, I’ll have to bite the bullet. Selah.


Another week flies past in a blur of day-job, review-writing and a judicious amount of RP malarkey in Second Life – well, a guy’s gotta have some sort of leisure outlet, after all, even if it usually involves staying up far later than is probably healthy. Speaking of Second Life, the most excellent Fallon Winfield (better known as science fiction writer Jason Stoddard) delivered me my virtual pied a terre over the past weekend, which is just awesome in a “concrete Mexican compound designed for a post-apocalyptic shoot-out show-down” sort of way. I’ll have to remember to get some snapshots over the next few days to share with you. (I also need to blog about his thoughts on personal branding, because they tie in to my genre independence flag-waving. Watch this space.)

I’ve been tweaking away at the Naval Museum website while at my day-job, applying the SEO wisdom I’ve accrued since starting VCTB to help improve the page ranks and so on. It’s a long slow process; I’m basically just going through and changing all the page titles as a first pass, but there’s a lot more to be done. Still, progress is steady, and it’s good to be doing something I know I’m good at.

As far as freelance work is concerned, a whole lot of stuff peaks over this weekend – including doing the copy for a whole website, and three or four press releases for local bands and musicians. Plus a book review to do, six or seven CDs, and the Biffy Clyro show from last Sunday to write up. So it’s not going to be much of a holiday for me this weekend … although, as I work on Her Majesty’s Dockyard property, I get Tuesday off work as well, due to some old and arcane law or another. Bonus!

(Anyone interested in having a chuckle at my music journalism skills may wish to consult the ‘paulgraven’ tag on my del.icio.us account, which I’m now starting to use as a way of keeping track of where stuff I’ve written has ended up on the intarwebs. Because there’s, y’know, so much of it. Yeah.)


Incoming material has yet again been (mercifully) sparse. A few things of note arrived spread across a brace of care packages from Orbit, however:

  • Spindrift by Allen Steele (which I see is getting sterling reviews all over the place, so it’ll have to move into the upper layers of the increasingly baroque book-queueing system)
  • A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore (which looks to be aiming for that Tom Holt / Robert Rankin cod comedy supernatural soap-opera angle; I’ll give it a try, but if it doesn’t bite early I’m not going to expend precious reading hours on it)

The rest was fantasy or vampire boffing. Meh. Not my bag, guv’nor – and I don’t have enough hours in my life for the books which I know I want to read.


One final note: I just want to say how sad it is to hear that Andy Wheeler of the SFBC may be out of a job. I’ve never met Andy, but his was one of the first SF blogs I started following, and he’s someone I’ve looked up to ever since – as a good blogger, a man of solid and well reasoned (if crotchety) opinions on the genre and publishing in general, and an all-round good bloke. As much as I may sometimes proclaim the necessity of radical restructuring in the publishing industry, it’s sad to see the human cost of business rationalisation, here as anywhere. I wish Andy the best of luck, and I’m confident that a man of his obvious dedication and intelligence will find gainful and satisfying work in short order, should he require it. Nil carborundum, sir.


Well, there we go – another week of my thrill-a-second life typed up and encapsulated for your vicarious enjoyment. I have a few things to sort out before heading to The Goa for The Friday Curry Of Exceptional Justice and Righteousness (which isn’t a problem, as they’re not even open yet), so I’ll say my goodbyes and wish all my fellow Brits a happy (and hopefully warm and sunny) long weekend – try not to drink too much, and remember what Baz Luhrmann said about the sunscreen.


Friday Photo Blogging: humungous flying cephalopod

We move away from photos of plants (and, indeed, from actual photos taken with an actual camera) for this week’s FPB, because … well, because I’ve not taken any. So instead, here’s a snapshot of me checking out an air kraken in Babbage Square, Second Life:

Air Kraken at Babbage Square

I went to see Babbage because it was one of the places Warren Ellis mentioned in his column about ‘awesome builds that seem like ghost-towns’. A fair assessment, too – Babbage is a beautifully made steampunk-themed sim, but it was dead as a Victorian doornail when I went there, except for a few other people who’d obviously had the same idea about following Mr. Ellis’s list of suggestions. That flying squid just had to be photographed. You can buy your own, too. Second Life is like that.


Even that screen shot is from over a week ago, too – time has been short, and SL exploration has to, by necessity, be one of the first casualties of temporal triage. I think my keyboard is starting to resent the ceaseless battering – it keeps sighing whenever I sit down in front of it.

Of course, I could be making all this up, couldn’t I? Yakking on about how busy I am in an attempt to make you all think I’m something I’m not? Well, I might be trying to convince you I’m a more professional and successful writer than I really am, but I assure you that I’ve been working. In fact, I have the proof.

I pointed earlier in the week to my critique of Mike Resnick’s Starship: Pirate at SF Site (and in doing so proved the axiom of the Summon Author spell), so you already knew about that. But I write about music too, you know – and a whole lot of my stuff has gone live on the intarwebs in the last week.

For Subba-Cultcha.com, I have reviewed albums by Dungen (trippy), Azalea City Penis Club (interesting), and Blacktop Mourning (by-the-numbers emo pop). Plenty more stuff already submitted but yet to be published.

For Pennyblack Music, I have reviewed albums by the Young Gods (mind-blowingly brilliant industrial) and Malkovich (craftily nihilistic Dutch metal lunacy), an EP by Silicon Vultures (very promising but as yet unpolished), and live shows from Pelican (supported by These Arms are Snakes) and Clutch (supported by The Sword). Here too, at least as many pieces again still pending publication. And I still need to write up and submit my interview with Franz from the Young Gods that I recorded on Tuesday …

Plus I’m off to review Biffy Clyro and supports on Sunday night, and on June 2nd I get to interview the mighty desert rock heroes, Fu Manchu! OK, so I don’t get paid for any of this, but it’s great fun and great portfolio. If I can just work out how to survive on three hours sleep a night, I’ll be doing brilliantly. And there’s paid work in the offing, too – I’ve got my first test copywriting assignment for the Sea Your History project to work on. I have to boil down the Admiralty’s attitudes and approaches to naval dis- and re-armament in the inter-war years … to 500 words! Yipes!


So, incoming materials for the week are all magazines (because I only count items that I intend to read, which invalidates the latest batch of teen vamp-shagging novels from Orbit … the public library will be more grateful for them, I expect):

Hell knows when I’ll get time to read them, though, because I’ve also received the recommended reading list for the SF Criticism Masterclass next month – and it’s … well, it’s extensive. It’s also almost entirely made up of articles from learned tomes of crit that I have little or no chance of getting hold of, so it’s lucky that the SF Foundation’s library can supply me with copies of the relevant articles and extracts. I don’t think I’ll be doing much reviewing of books this month, that’s for sure.

Oh, and talking of reviewing and Interzone, I think I can now safely reveal that I have just become Assistant Reviews Editor for Interzone, which is something I’m inordinately proud to announce. I think it’ll be a lot of work, but well worth it for the prestige alone. How I will manage to eventually fill the wonderful Sandy Auden’s shoes, I have no idea, but I’m going to give it the best shot I have.


So, there you go. I really have had a busy week – not that you ever doubted me, of course, but I like to be able to back up my assertions occasionally. But now that I have shared the wonder that is my week-to-week existance with you, good people of the internet, it is time. It is time for That Thing Which Must Be Consumed On A Friday … I’ll need the calories to keep me at my desk all weekend, if nothing else!

Have a good one, boys and girls.