Tag Archives: A363

Three Courses – Short Story Fiction and Google Book Search

The new book of short stories is now up on Amazon in both Kindle download and print editions. Initial feedback from readers has been good, and although not all of the stories are to everyone’s taste, there seems to be something for everyone to enjoy. If you have bought a copy, thank you very much. Please let me know what you think either by leaving a review on Amazon or getting in touch with me direct.

three cOUrses back and front

Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress blog, or go direct by clicking here.

Well, that’s one Local History, one ‘How To’ and one short story fiction book finished. Now it’s on to poetry. Some will have noticed from my lack of Facebook and Twitter presence that I have had my head down for the last few weeks. The reason is that I’ve been writing new poems to add to the small collection created over the years. I want the book to be fresh and current, so although I will include some of the old ones, most will be newly written. Watch this space for progress!

I have been wondering about Google Book Search recently. If you submit a book you have published, they include the text in their searchable database and highlight the match if anyone Googles for a particular term that’s mentioned in your work. On the face of it, this sounds like a neat idea, but I’m a bit put off that Google can display 20% (more if you specify it) of your book. On the other hand, if someone is checking out your book in a library they get to see it all for free! For me, I’m happy to share my writing because I do it for fun. However, I can see that an author who is trying to carve out a living might not want to share such a big chunk of work. Sixty pages from a three hundred page novel is quite a read for free! The bottom line is that I have released my Probate book to Google Book Search. It will be interesting to see how it affects sales!

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Three Courses – Short Stories from Creative Writing Modules

Thank you to my Facebook and WordPress friends who encouraged me to press ahead with publishing my anthology of creative writing!

three cOUrses front

I found this book much harder to put out there than Whomerley Wood Moat and Probate, probably because with my engineering background I am more comfortable with factual writing. Fiction is different. The reader gets to know how you think. They judge your ability to please them. Will they be bored? Will they smile or laugh out loud? Will they believe in wherever you take them? Will they keep turning the pages?
Now is the time to find out the answers!
Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress blog, or go direct by clicking here.

It’s available direct from me (signed copies, free UK p&p), from eBay (signed copies, free UK p&p), and from Lulu Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu. .

Amazon have it on Kindle download here, and should have the print book in stock within a week or two.

If you decide to buy a copy, thank you. I hope you enjoy the stories as much as I loved writing them.

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Anthology of Creative Writing

I have been sitting on the fence the past few weeks wondering whether or not to publish an anthology of short stories to add to my Whomerley Wood Moat and Probate book titles.

image 2015 jun 19

There is quite a large collection of mixed genres, and many were written as assessed work during the Open University Creative Writing modules. And that has been the holding factor. The OU has, quite rightly, very strong rules about plagiarism and say they take a tough line if anyone is discovered copying the work of others. Although they seem to be happy to allow students to publish their work, my concern is that anyone doing so may be actively encouraging plagiarism.
While I’ve been contemplating whether or not to go ahead, I’ve been selecting what I think are my best bits of writing, reviewing each story in some depth, cutting, sometimes savagely, and rewriting extensively. Murdering my darlings I believe is the idiomatic term. However, I still felt some discomfort and that publication was not a wise move. Until last night, that is.
So, what has changed my mind?
Firstly, I have discovered it has been done before. And at least once with the unashamed blessing of the OU. In fact, Amazon have a number of student anthologies available for download as do sites such as Ink Pantry.
Then I realised that I wasn’t planning to publish ‘assessed work’ as such. The clue is included above. I have murdered my darlings. The work is not the same as I submitted on the modules. Hopefully it is more professional, more readable and more digestible!
And anyway, no-one will have access to tutor comments or advice, or indeed the marks awarded for each piece (although between you and me I did rather well). So anyone trying to pass my writing off as theirs is taking quite a chance.
Finally, the OU make extensive use of plagiarism detection software. If I go ahead and publish, there is a good chance that this software would quickly pick up any attempts to re-use what I have written. Plagiarism detectors are actually pretty good. I know because I used them a fair bit to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently copied something and failed to provide a citation.
So, my plan is to run through the editing process again, then again, and probably once again and then publish. Certainly it will be available as a Kindle download on Amazon, and as I’m a bit old-fashioned about this sort of thing I shall probably publish a printed version as well.
Right – now I need a catchy title and a cover design…

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A363: Advanced Creative Writing….. Result!

I’ve been awaiting the result of the level 3 module I completed back in May with some trepidation.

As any of you who were reading my progress throughout the module might remember, I received a very mediocre mark for my stage play adaptation in TMA02.  That completely scuppered my chances of achieving a top rate pass for the module.

The overall result was expected to be published on 3rd August, but it turned up yesterday.  Much to my relief, as I’d been clicking on the student home page like a mad thing since this time last week just to see if it was there.

The final assignment (I submitted a piece of life writing) mark was pretty much along the lines of the average for the whole module, and overall I managed a Pass 2.

Must admit to feeling a bit deflated, even though it was the best I could hope for after the stage play.  Probably more so, because I unlinked the module from my degree.  I have sufficient points under my belt to claim the BA I’ve been working towards for the past three years if I tick the box to link the module back in.  However, I am now in the position where I can take two more level 3 modules under the OU’s transitional fee arrangements, because that’s what I would need to complete the BA(Hons) if I leave A363 unlinked.  It would give me an extra year of less expensive learning (about £750 instead of £2500 per module).

I think I’ll see how the new module goes.  Signed up for E301, The Art of English, a couple of weeks ago.  If I find I’m no better at writing essays about creativity in linguistics than creative writing, I’ll link A363 back in and settle for a 2.1 !

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Death by Sound

That’s the last time I finish a blog with ‘What to do?’  Had forgotten my wife always reads them.  So spent most of last week treating the back garden fences with preservative.  Best make sure I have lots of OU work to do in the future…

Talking of which, the forums have pretty well died completely on A363.  Even the cafe, where anyone in the world taking the course can join in, has been remarkably quiet.  There have, of course, been the usual ‘When do the results come through?’ question and answer sessions.  I have to admit to being totally daft here, because already I’m checking the home page to see if they’ve arrived, even though I know they won’t be out until early August.

One thing I must work out before the next course starts, is how to set up an index on this blog.  Previous attempts haven’t met with any success, and even though I successfully posted a picture a few weeks back, whatever I did then, no longer seems to work!  Clearly I must try harder (where did I hear that before?).

Thought I might occasionally post some of my A215 and A363 work here.  Why?  Well, it’s probably the only way it will be read by more than a dozen people.  And it might just spark some ideas for creative writing students who have reached that dreaded state of blank brain syndrome.  Sometimes, just thinking ‘I can do better than that load of rubbish.’ can be very helpful.

Death by Sound

Ear worm, what pleasures do you find

inside my head?  Your constant hiss

of steam, when all around is quiet.

To wake in silence, just a dream.

 

Your autumn rustle all year through,

with tuning strings perpetual

cacophony.  A prison term,

a life of  jangling symphony.

 

Like ocean waves on shingled shore

ensnared within an empty conch

to dance, with dream-world music spinning

rapidly in abstract trance.

 

Must flee this never ending shriek

that fuddles minds from deep inside

one’s ear with constant clamour.  Might

you be the final sound I hear.

 

I originally included an epigraph with this, to help the reader understand what I was writing about, but thought it might be fun to let you guess.

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One huge clearout later…

The study is unrecognisable.

For the past three years there have been piles of books, discarded story drafts, stellar maps, music scores including the complete orchestral score for the March from The Little Suite by Trevor Duncan (the theme from Dr Finlay, should anyone be old enough to remember that), various calculators including one that I still have to check out the instructions for in order to use it, heaps of graph paper sporting unlikely curves of equally doubtful looking equations, results from an experiment to calculate the water content of a potato by nuking it in the microwave, company account trading summaries spread over pages and pages of Excel spreadsheets, family history references, photographs…  You get the picture?

Three years of OU modules, from book-keeping to maths, science to astronomy, music technology to creative writing in various guises.  Loose papers neatly filed away, text books carefully shelved, notebooks ditto.

One BA in prospect come A363’s result.

And an empty desk.

What to do?

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A363 Advanced Creative Writing – EMA Gone! Final thoughts…

After three evenings of read-throughs to just check grammar, spelling and punctuation, and those same three evenings actually spent changing a whole heap of words instead, I decided to upload the EMA.  I swear I was at the point where one day I changed something, and the next I changed it back.  Ridiculous.  So, it’s gone.

The EMA commentary happened all of a sudden.  It always goes like that for me.  When there’s stacks of time, I can’t seem to find the words.  Those writers that put a Mozart CD in, sit back and just let the words flow out?  Doesn’t work for me.  But give me a deadline, and the fingers start hitting the keys.  The drivel, hogwash and twaddle I mentioned in the last post turned into a coherent, scholarly appraisal of the creative process used to write the EMA.  Now, I may just be over-egging it a bit.  Probably quite a bit, actually.  But I’m happy with it, and that’s what matters.

The OU eventually unlinked A363 from the modules I’m counting towards my BA, so I can decide whether to link it back in or not when the result pops up in August.  So long as I haven’t totally screwed up with the EMA, I should get a Pass 2.  Anything less, and I’ll probably leave it until I finish the next module to see how they combine into the class of Honours.

A363 has, without a doubt, been a wonderful experience.  Mind you, I enjoyed A215 (Creative Writing) rather more, probably because the student forums were much more active.  Once TMA02 had gone in, the forums pretty much died.  OK, there were a few spurts to help with TMA03 (the critique), but that was about it.

As far as the course book is concerned, I read it right through and carried out most of the activities, but to be honest I’m not sure how much it influenced either the work done for TMAs, or the marks.

My biggest disappointment was the result for TMA02, where we had to turn our TMA01 short story into a screenplay/radio play or stage play.  I plumped for the stage.  My reading of the assignment instructions gave me the impression that it was firmly aimed at the ‘conversion’ process, turning prose into a script using the vast set of rules laid down by actors and directors.  However, don’t be fooled in the same way!  Even though I know that from a technical point of view I did a pretty good job of the dramatisation, the new ending I added in to make the play run for the full fifteen minutes was not at all well-liked and I ended up with the worst mark ever in three years of studying at the OU.  The whole degree in fact.  Actually, I thought it was fun, had lots of pace, and did what I wanted it to, as described in my commentary.  But I was wrong.  Although I achieved some good marks from that point on, I don’t think my heart ever really recovered.  It was also a nail in the coffin as far as a Grade 1 pass goes, and instead I found myself struggling to maintain a Grade 2.  So, anyone doing A363 starting October 2012, don’t fall into the same trap!

So, that’s it.  Assuming I get a pass for A363 that’s the ordinary BA completed.  An eclectic mix of science, maths, music technology, accounting and much creative writing over three years.

Shall I do another level 3 module for the Honours year?  We’ll see.  For now, I need to clear out the study!

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A363 EMA, A Good Yarn is what’s needed

I really, really should not be writing this.  What I should be doing, is polishing the final A363 assignment until it shines like a button on a Grenadier’s uniform.  Trouble is, I need a button to polish, and all I have at the moment is a plastic popper.

TMA06 came back early in the week with a plethora of comments and advice from the tutor pinned to the 1000 word extract, which was very encouraging.  In fact, the whole piece has gone pretty much to plan.  Except that I am left with the crunch flashback.  The one that the whole point of the story turns on.  Been working on it all day, but it’s drivel.  Not just drivel, either.  Tripe comes to mind, as does hogwash, gibberish and twaddle.  The words simply won’t do what I want them to do.  I suppose that’s what being a writer is all about.  Moulding words into sentences so they reflect the image you want to paint.

Maybe it’s because the piece is life-writing.  Not just life-writing, either.  It’s a piece of family history where a course of events resulted in tragic consequences.  Because there are no surviving family members who I can talk to, much of the writing is fictionalised around facts I know to be true.  I confess to finding reading history as dull (not the history itself, just the books) as our weather has been for the past week.  That’s probably it.  I need to forget about the ‘life-writing’ aspect and just think about what would make a good yarn for the flashback.

Nothing back from the OU yet on my request to unlink A363 from my degree.  Maybe I’m not the only student who has woken up to the fact that they won’t get endless chances at achieving a good Honours class now that transitional funding expires once sufficient credits have been earned for a degree to be awarded.  OK, I know, I know…  I’m only doing this for fun.  But even so, I’d like to end up with a good class of degree at the end!

So, I’m off to try out that ‘good yarn’ idea…

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A363 Week 27

Just had a look at the Advanced Creative Writing course calendar, and we’re frighteningly near the end.

Although TMA06 still hasn’t yet been returned with advice for the EMA, I guess I’m not the only one in our study group to carry on writing regardless.  Hopefully the TMA will pop up early next week, and won’t signpost a need to rewrite from scratch.  I still have 1000 words to go out of 4000, and it’s the most challenging part of the life-writing piece.  I’ve been trying to change the readers view of the protagonist’s state of mind as the tale progresses, and although I don’t intend there to be a ‘twist’ at the end, I want the reader to be slightly taken aback with how things turn out.  I know that doesn’t make much sense, since you have no idea what or who I’m writing about.

I decided during the week to try to unlink A363 from my degree.  Not exactly sure why, but it seems the right thing to do.  For a start, it gives me the opportunity to study two more modules to count towards the hons classification under the transitional funding arrangements, so the fun will last a little longer.  Transitional arrangements come to an end once the target qualification has been achieved, and I had a shock when I saw that E301 (The Art of English), one of my next study options, showed a non-transitional fee of £2500.  No way could most people pay that for leisure learning!  The other reason is that I’m having a crisis of confidence with the creative writing, and don’t feel that this module has gone all that well.  After the immense enjoyment of A173, A174 and A215 (all writing modules), A363 just hasn’t been as pleasurable.  Can’t put a finger on why, though.  It may not be possible to unlink the module at this late stage, and the boxes that would normally allow this to be done online have been greyed out, but I’ve dropped an email to the OU to see if they can help.  I hope they can, because then I can register E301 and E303, both of which look as though they have the potential to offer a couple of years of great entertainment!

Right, back to the writing.  It’s been going well the last couple of days, so while I’m on a roll…

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A363, Advanced Creative Writing – No Progress!

Absolutely nothing to report on my OU activities this week, as I haven’t even opened my notebook.  And with a little over four weeks to go, that probably isn’t the wisest of moves.  My excuse is that until the marked TMA06 is returned, with a blessing (or otherwise) from the tutor that the structure is looking OK (or not), I could be wasting my time pressing on.

Been a busy week, though.  Started clearing out the side shed last weekend to make room for the tools I keep under the stairs, so we can use that area for storage.  Actually, when I say ‘storage’, I mean a temporary stopping off point where stuff can languish for a few years, until we send it off to our local charity shop muttering, ‘I’d forgotten we had that,’ and ‘We’ll never use that again.’  The clear-out was surprisingly successful, even though it took up most of my afternoons last week and has resulted in piles of rubbish destined for the tip.  Not only is under the stairs empty, but the shed has a few bare  shelves as well, so room for more bits and bobs!

Chocolate has been high on the agenda, beginning with a free Easter egg courtesy of the Sunday Express and our local newsagent.  It was the only one I had, and it didn’t last long.  In fact it didn’t even see the end of Monday.  Then Wednesday we had a family meal to celebrate my wife’s birthday, and her sister served up a huge chocolate cake with candles.  Well, it was those ‘number’ candles that you have to use when single ones simply wouldn’t fit (I realise I’m dicing with having to live on gruel for the next few weeks should she read this!).  The cake was delicious, and they insisted we took home what was left.  Our favourite niece (I always call her that, even though we only have one) presented us with a massive box of chocolates.  By Thursday it was all getting too much for me, and I had to open the chocolates.  As for the chocolate cake, we asked some friends if they’d please drop by Friday evening and help us to finish it off.  With dollops of cream on top.

To offset the choccy calories, I’ve been doing a lot of walking.  The dogs go out each morning for about an hour round the local woods,

then I’ve been walking into town before lunch.  Wednesday morning I got lost in Stevenage Old Town.  With about 10Kg of bird seed, suet pellets and peanuts in my little haversack, I’d walked down to the old hardware shop to buy a tin of Sadolin for the front door.  When we first moved to Stevenage in the early 1970s, I had an evening bar job at the Prince of Wales so thought I’d walk up there and see how the place looks now.  Sad to say, it’s no longer a pub.  In fact it doesn’t appear to be anything other than an empty building.  I carried on in the general direction of ‘home’, and took what I thought was a short cut.  And walked… and walked… and walked, until after half an hour or so I began to recognise where I was.  When I looked back and saw the cemetery I realised I was quite out of puff.  Forget sometimes I’m almost an OAP!

On a final note this week, thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog lately.  Friday was the busiest day so far, although I think it was boosted by my old mate in Sydney discovering it and looking back at the previous jottings.

Now, best go and check if that latest TMA has been returned…

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