Late workout, aggravated injury from Saturday's training (and Sunday was a bit heavy-duty too), so I kept it simple tonight:

300 x Hindu Push-Ups; 600 x Hindu Squats; 5 minutes x Wrestler's Bridge; 100 x Ab Crunches; then 1 punch/kick combo set for each of the basic kicks (front, side, rear, reverse roundhouse, hook, roundhouse)* and blocks (rising, outer, inner, down, knife-hand)†. Finished with stretching.

Nothing fancy, all fast and hard. Job done.

* Or mae-geri, yoko-geri, ushiro-geri, ushiro-mawashi-geri, ura-mawashi-geri, mawashi-geri to be technical.

† That's age-uke, soto-uke, uchi-uke, gedan-berai, shuto-uke. And they're for disengaging attempted grappling and for striking as well, not just blocking.

Doing some admin work today, I had to collate the publication dates (and so on) of my novels. Don't know if it's of interest, but these are all my UK novels, barring a couple of Kindle editions...

To Hold Infinity pub. Bantam (Transworld)
mass market paperback Apr 1998 ISBN 0 553 50588 23

Paradox pub. Bantam (Transworld)
hardcover Jun 2000 ISBN 0593 045734
mass market paperback Mar 2001 ISBN 0 553 50589 0

Context pub. Bantam (Transworld)
hardcover Nov 2002 ISBN 0593 047354
trade paperback Nov 2002 ISBN 0593 047362
mass market paperback Jun 2003 ISBN 0 553 81357 9

Resolution pub. Bantam (Transworld)
hardcover Jan 2005 ISBN 0593 047370
mass market paperback Jan 2006 ISBN 0 553 81358 7

Bone Song pub. Gollancz (Orion)
hardcover Mar 2007 ISBN 978 0 57507 955 7
trade paperback Mar 2007 ISBN 978 0 57507 954 0
mass market paperback Feb 2008 ISBN 978 0 57508 1 758

Dark Blood pub. Gollancz (Orion)
hardcover Mar 2008 ISBN 978 0 57507 9 601
trade paperback Mar 2008 ISBN 978 0 57507 9 618
mass market paperback Jan 2009 ISBN 978 0 575 08415 5

Absorption pub. Gollancz (Orion)
hardcover May 2010 ISBN 978 0 575 08533 6
trade paperback May 2010 ISBN 987 0 575 08532 9

Edge (as Thomas Blackthorne) pub. Angry Robot
mass market paperback Oct 2010 ISBN 978 0 00 734971 5

Point (as Thomas Blackthorne) pub. Angry Robot
mass market paperback Feb 2011 ISBN 978 0 85766 078 7

Blimey! Loadsa books. And the PAPERBACK OF ABSORPTION IS OUT IN JULY. Oops. Sorry. Didn't mean to shout. Shh...



I'm most of the way through Charlie Stross's most excellent new book, Rule 34. It's not actually published, yet. Charlie showed me his, and I showed him mine, as it were - he's got Transmission, I've got Rule 34, and it's absolutely terrific.

Only problem is, apparently the Rapture is due to occur today.

Oh, wait... I've checked the official website again (and no, I'm not linking to it). So long as I get left behind, everything's fine. The world will continue to exist until sometime in October. Phew. I can get a whole bunch of reading done by then.



I've just emailed my agent a book proposal - the first five and a half thousand words of something new, and a ten and a half thousand word outline of the remainder. It feels exciting, as new things always do.

Back now to some final tweaks on Transmission (Ragnarok 2), and then all my concentration will be on Resonance (Ragnarok 3).

So why would I interrupt the process to work intensely on proposing something new? Because my current contract is for the Ragnarok trilogy, and it's always good to know what's going to happen after that. It's a weird part of being a writer. But if I get the timing right, then by the time I'm freed up and ready to work on the new project for real, my agent will have sold the rights to a publisher, so it's a concrete project and not speculative.

I'll be keeping mum about the new thing, though. You have to keep the psychological pressure built up inside, like a pressure cooker. The only successful writer I know of who can talk a lot about a story and still manage to write it is Larry Niven - for every other writer I know of, that kind of discussion would kill the story before it's written. The reason is that discussions feel like accomplishments, whereas the story needs to be aching for completion inside your mind, pulling you along until it really is finished.

Anyone interested in psychology might care to Google "Zeigarnik Effect" at this point.



I had a great time on Friday, talking to (entertaining) the Birmingham SF Group. Mixed lots of Birmingham-based reminiscing with determining the true nature of time and space. Mucho fun. I used small wooden hoops - actually Yvonne's embroidery frames - to represent the spacetime continuum at different sizes and times. Many thanks to the entire front row for helping out! Thanks to Rog, Vernon, Pat, Theresa, Dave, Martin, Anne, Stan, and the Novacon gang.

Over the last few days, by the way, Blogger had a malfunction, so I could not approve any comments or publish new posts. I know that at least one person commented on my Illustrious panel, but I'm afraid that's disappeared into another spacetime continuum...

More fun was had on Saturday with the Novacon gang round Tony's house. You won't believe what wonders we've planned for the big event...



Since Absorption is coming out soon in paperback, I'll be updating the website's index page soon. While I'm at it, any special requests? Anything you'd particularly like to see on the website? Preferably not rude...



Next Friday I shall be keeping the Birmingham Science Fiction Group entertained as I give this month's talk, or in my case, something more akin to stand-up comedy. I hope. Break out the Ansell's Mild and Pork Scratchings, cos here I come...

(Actually I'm a teetotal vegetarian these days, which is probably a result of the above.)



On Martin Sketchley's blog I noticed a discussion about Word and other word-processing software. A long time ago, a writer visiting me mentioned that her laptop had all the latest stuff on it, and she used it identically for other work as well as writing. That's very different from my approach, outlined below. Then I asked her a key question:

"Do you write every day?"

And the answer was no. She thought she was doing fine, but the point was that I deliberately used unconscious operant conditioning to put me in the correct neuropsychological state for writing every day. (Pavlovian conditioning often works with only a single shot - a single application of properly-timed stimulus, called anchoring by NLPers. It works better on humans and octopi than on dogs, and there's some evil film footage from Pavlov's experiments on children to prove it.)

What I most want from writing software is for it to be unobtrusive, so here's what I posted to Martin's blog:

As a full-time novelist, I find Word absolutely fine. (And if you want my tech credentials, I wrote my first program over 35 years ago.)

Here’s what I do:

Use full screen mode, with the get-out-of-full-screen-view icon deleted. Only text and background are visible, using a colour scheme which is totally different from what I use in any context other than writing fiction. This forms a deep mental association to the writing state, along with my choice of music.

I entirely disable any auto-correct or spell-check features, so there are no distractions on the screen, not even red or green underlines.

I perform spell-checking and suchlike only on completed drafts which my editors are going to receive. You can drop out of full-screen mode to do this – the Esc key is my friend – or simply remember that F7 kicks off the spell checker.

Beyond this, for writing I use my writing laptop – an old Thinkpad, the least glamorous computer I own – in my writing room (my study). This machine does not connect to the internet, ever. Besides forming the natural psychological trigger for writing every day, this has obvious security benefits. (Speaking of such practicalities, I back up my work daily, rotating through 3 different memory sticks.)

When I had to squeeze writing around a demanding full-time career that included four-and-a-half hours commuting on a good day, this approach was even more important, though the writing had to happen while I was on the move.

It’s about removing distractions and getting into the zone. Every day.

You might be interested in my writing rather than random observations on martials arts. On Friday I sent in the revised (after editorial feedback) Transmission, being book 2 of the Ragnarok trilogy - definitely my best-crafted work to date. Whether you'll like it is up to you, of course!

It's time for me to commence 10 days of being a dutiful (old if not mature) graduate student - minimal daily writing - since I've some work to complete by 10th May. I'm writing the software in Haskell, and fascinated by recursion though I am, I really haven't absorbed the functional programming mindset in the way I have object orientation.

(I take OO for granted now, but I wrote an awful lot of software before Java was invented - to pick an obvious landmark. Some clever folk worked out the concepts a long time earlier, as discussed in the OOPSLA conference of 1968, but it really wasn't mainstream.)

I shall now mumble to myself for a while about the disappearance of punched cards and how can anyone build a self-respecting computer without loads of flashing lights on the front?

At karate dojos, when I ask if people are into MMA (as spectators) I get blank looks and only occasional enthusiasm (invariably from the best fighters). Big contrast to yesterday, rolling with the BJJ/MMA guys from Gracie Barra Swansea. The imminent UFC 129 was the only topic of conversation after the training was over.

BTW, thanks for going easy on the old guy, fellas...

So while respecting the 2 headline fights - GSP and José Aldo are terrific, likewise their respective opponents - I was waiting for the Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture fight. Couture, aka Captain America, is 47, a gentleman and athlete, while Machida is shotokan karate's MMA icon. It was hard for me to take sides in advance.

Result: Machida won with a tobi mae geri (or mae tobi geri if you prefer). That's a flying front kick to the jaw, last seen on the (original) Karate Kid. Classy.

But his real weapon is his tai sabaki, loosely translated as footwork, more accurately as body evasion. Nice work. Respect.