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Friday, July 28, 2017

Comic Cuts - 21 July 2017

Another slightly chaotic week. At the tail end of last week we were still having the roof fixed on our utility room. The good news on that front is that not only is it finished, but it seems to be watertight! We've had some pretty hard downpours since and I haven't noticed any leaks.

I've started updating some old features for future publication, although how soon that will be appearing is in the lap of the gods. The first piece I tackled was expanded from 650 words to 4,000 and took me the whole weekend. Hopefully that won't be the case with all of these pieces as I'm hoping to update fifty short essays!

One of the pieces I've tackled is the history of the Flying Saucer Review that I co-wrote with Roger Perry back in 2013. This was a spin-off from the correspondence that flew back and forth when I was writing a book about Boys' World (Boys' World: Ticket to Adventure). The series ran on Bear Alley in October, while I was getting ready to write the next book  (Countdown to TV Action).

I always thought of it as an eBook and had plans to put it up on Kindle, but, sadly, Roger died in 2016 and, a few months before, I had taken on an editorial job locally to keep the roof over my head. Long story short, I've only now managed to put the series together as a short (16,200 words) book, which is now available on Kindle via Amazon in various countries.

Utility room with new roof and gutters
I also thought I'd try it out as a slim book, as Amazon offer that option through its Createspace operation. "This should be easy," I thought. After all, I had the text and a cover image already. That turned out not to be the case. I think I uploaded eight different versions of the cover before everything was right and the preview window takes absolutely ages to load as they don't just do the cover, but the whole book each time you make the slightest change... they do at least warn you that it may take some time and that you might want to go and get a cup of coffee. Which I did, numerous times, so I was buzzing by the time I got to version eight and both buzzing and angry when I realised there was a typo on the rear cover and I'd have to upload yet another corrected version.

But it's now up and running and I'm working on a Kindle version of Iron Mask. The daft thing is, Iron Mask was never meant to be a printed book. I did a print version to show people locally and as a thank you to the folk at the local history society and our little local history museum who helped source pictures. It was just a little unfortunate that I was getting my proof done at the same time my printer changed print supplier and the first short run of printed copies had to be scrapped.

Adding insult to injury, the advice I received on how to fix the problem turned out to be wrong, so it took weeks to get the book finalised and a short run printed. And it has sold about a dozen copies. That's why I never intended it to be a commercially available printed book! But I'm hopeful that it might be the kind of quirky story that does well as a nice, cheap Kindle book.

You can see the vacuum cleaner in the foreground.
In a week where minor inconvenient molehills become impassable mountains, something as simple of hoovering the utility room almost ended in disaster. We have one of those Dyson vacuum cleaners with joints and pull-out poles and easily detachable whatnots that never seem to fit back into the slot they fell out of. So hoovering should be simplicity itself and a short bit of carpet of around eight by three feet shouldn't pose any problems to do while I'm cooking lunch.

But once I'd bumped my way around a shelf and into corners the vacuum is starting to whine and emptying it hasn't helped and the head of the vacuum, which is supposed to tilt, won't go back into its upright position so I lean it upside down against the wall and my lunch is alight while I'm trying to pull hair and fluff away from the brush and emptying the tube leading from the brush to the container where the "Dyson cyclone" drops it.

You're probably way ahead of me on this... the important step here was not to keep yanking at the matter that was clogging the brush and tube but that my lunch was on fire.

I was never in any danger – it was a toasted sandwich and the bread was too close to the grill. I had the problem solved before the fire alarm went off (which, of course, it did because the scorched bread  made the kitchen smoky even after I opened a window) and I will say this... overcooking the bread melted the cheese to perfection and it was one of the best ham and cheese toasties I've ever had.

And, after lunch, I fixed the Dyson, the tube of which had been clogged up with fluff and dirt snagged on some broken bits of plastic dropped by the workmen when they were doing the roof.

We've had our first tomatoes from our tomato plants, ten black cherry and one huge Marmande.

Random scans... to celebrate the release of The Men Behind the Flying Saucer Review, here are some alien-related titles.

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