A.J. Walker


Scrivener: Bit the Bullet

Getting the FlashFeed done was my first and probably only bit of writing to be done today; other than this couple of blogs. But there is writing news in that I've bitten the little financial bullet and purchased Scrivener 3 from Literature & Latte. I am 99.9% sure it'll be an investment well worth every little pound. The only way it won't be is if I stop writing, which I have no intention of doing.

I'm moving the PDF of the manual from my mac on to my Paperwhite so I can scan through that a bit and get an idea of all that it can do, which is patently a lot. It'll be especially great for both novel and any non-fiction work I want to do; for Flash Fiction pieces I can stick with Pages or a notebook. I'll have to do occasional updates on the blog on how I am using Scrivener and finding the software. Forty odd quid for something that I should get years out of is only a few pence a week, I shouldn't have procrastinated about getting it.

If you fancy looking at it you can always get a Trial Version of it over on their site (click on the link below):

Literature & Latte

So I've bought Scrivener, written my FlashFeed and written two blogs. Anyone think I may have been off today?

I did brave the Beast from the East which seemed more like the pussy from Wussy when I went out for a drug and alcohol test. I must say I'm always disappointed when they don't bring out a range of beers and spirits for me to identify. All they do is ask me to pee in a bottle and blow into what looked like a vibrator. How boring?

Everything in Moderation

FlashFeed Fed

Wrote a story for FlashFeed1.20 and have submitted it. Not showing up there yet so assume it's under 'moderation'.

Moderation is crucial of course. As most my submissions these days are on other sites I don't have to moderate on my website so much. In fact last week I had a comment to moderate, which was shockingly rare. Back in the day when I wrote for the Visdare prompt the submissions were written on your own site and that meant the comments back would be too. The good thing about that used to be making the website dynamic, but of course sometimes if you're away from your computer - god forbid - then it can take a while to get the comments up. Of course that is better than not moderating and risking all sorts appearing on the website.


Anyway, gotta disappear for a bit. I think there may be another blog later or tomorrow.


FlashFeeding but Not Pasting

Liking the FlashFeed for this week (no.1.20)

1. 2. 3. Jump!

I've alway fancied skydiving. A bit weird as I am often not good at heights (not sure why sometimes I'm okay and other times I'm not - a part time phobia). Looking at this photo my first thought is... what if my boot fell off? And oh! great selfie opportunity. Oh, bugger I've dropped me phone.

Good to see that there are already six stories up there from some of the usual suspects. Click on the photo above and check them out over on the Flash Dogs website and then write your own story. Now sure where am I going to take this one? 1.. 2... 3....

First though I've got to cure my Mac. The Cut and Paste has stopped working (a dodgy 'clipboard' I suspect). It's amazing how much cut and paste you do when you blog and twitter. Not being able to is equivalent to a broken arm. Probably.

but not cut & pasting.

VSS Amusement

Whilst last week there was a worry about whether Flash Feed may not last the marathon distance one thing that has gone from strength to strength recently has been the daily #VSS365 (VSS = Very Short Story) tweet. There seems to be so many people getting involved in that lately.

I came up with a bemusement park the other day (from the prompt: Lemon) and that may well get its own short (rather than VERY short) story before too long just because the idea tickled me - and they say you can't tickle yourself!? I suppose that is the purpose of VSS to some extent. It's not like we are writing wonderful sections of prose necessary within the 280 character limit. But anything it can do to help coming up with story ideas should be a good thing. Right? Write.

If you've not tried it yet then check out the #VSS365 on Twitter.

Mr Bemusement

Kicking the American Car Crash Habit

Time is always ticking. In many ways that's the elephant in every room. While we choose to have a lie in, climb up a mountain, ski down a mountain, read a book or watch television whatever we are doing there is that constant countdown to our own personal armageddon - or at least a final checking out. Tick tock.

And yet so many people choose to waste so much time. They are often unable to help themselves. And me, how do I chose to waste it? In the last few months it has been spent with a little too much TV, the stupidest being watching CNN. I mean there is nothing wrong with CNN per se, but after all it is the news network of another country. Looking forward to watching 'The State of America with Kate Bolduan' (or not currently as she's off with babs) and Wolf is daft surely.

I find it a good watch though. They get some interesting people on with daft views to the left and the right of the issues and the arguments are fun. When I say 'issues' obviously that largely means Trump and/or his mates those pesky Russians and his dysfunctional family and oddball corrupt cohorts. The daily grind of twitter stupidity from the dotard and the onward progression of the Mueller investigation both form fabulous grist to the news mill. And I watch it like it matters. I don't even buy newspapers anymore so why do I find myself watching this nonsense from the US?


Suppose watching the car crash of this awful President takes my mind of British politics and the self-harming Brexit phase we are going through. I should be more interested in this local stuff, shouldn't I? Not sure I should.

Years ago I used to buy a broadsheet (any from Times, Gurniad or Independent) every day and I used to watch Question Time - out of interest. But now, I see the odd 'I' small and the Metro - only if one is left next to me on the bus and that's it. As for QT I've given up; why wind myself up watching these liars and shifty characters play games with agendas and feelings. The whole issue with Trump and Brexit and Fake News is all tied up together with the MSN and Twitter and people playing high stakes games to no good end. The politicians announce what they are going to say in a speech in advance - I mean what the hell is that about? It's about controlling the agenda and using the news for soundbites in the knowledge that the news these days doesn't predominantly require journalism; when you see the nine o'clock news reporting people's twitter comments as news they seem to have abdicated their responsibility in that area.

So I don't watch the news. I don't watch Question Time but I watch The State of America. I can only think that it is the equivalent of being unable not to look at a car crash while you're driving past, seeing the carnage and thinking 'there but for the grace of god' and all. Watching the US channel must be like watching that car crash but in the knowledge that it could not affect me; whereas if I watch out British equivalent I'd get the added soul destroying impediment, that kick in the gut feeling, that every one of these decisions and agendas, that all these guys and gals are doing bad stuff to me and everyone around me. Every day.

But now I've got to stop it. Or at least wean myself off it. My daily fix of some Wolf and Bolduan stand-ins is costing me an hour a day at least. That's an hour a day I could be cooking & eating, reading, writing or playing the guitar. An hour a day is valuable and it shouldn't be spent watching the car crash of America under Trump. So tonight I will strum my guitar through a few songs or read a chapter or two of The Underground Railroad or write an hour's worth of the next great British novel.

And the TV will be off.

Tentacles & Alt. Flash Futures

The Flash Feed was a little late going up this week after a comment that the numbers who'd entered last week's challenge was low and that participation was in general declining. I feared that perhaps the last one would end up being the actual last - and I'd end up being a St Bernard for ever. But the photo prompt came up and it was another lovely shot; they have been choosing some lovely photos.


I'm hoping the challenge keeps going. It does take a while for them to get into their comfortable niche. It took Microcosms quite a while but recently it has been going from strength to strength. I think of the Flash Feed prompt as being closer to Angry Hourglass than anything else - partly because there are several days to write it, the length of the pieces and the strength of the photos. The main difference is that the challenge is not judged and maybe some of the flashers prefer to be able to 'win' a challenge, I don't know. Adding a judging element adds another level of difficulty in keeping it live - ie more people and more time input. Personally I don't mind not being marked as a winner or an also ran. And in any case the community still can make comments so you still get feedback.

Long Live Flash Feed!

Mixed Up Class

Been another good few songs in the last few days from Class Song of the Day including some excellent indie stuff from the 90s with They Might Be Giants, Echobelly, Elastica, Lush and Orange Juice. Been nice to listen - some of these which I haven't heard for years.

Sleeper Elastica
Sleeper / Elastica
Lush OrangeJuice
Lush / Orange Juice

The next ten days are up and ready to go on Buffer which will take it up to day/song #315 and includes a right mix of classic rock and roll, rockabilly, folk, country and blues rock.

Keep listening!


Crash and Bruise

Well I said I'd do it. Hope you're not eating as you clicked on to this. As I indicated on Twitter on Wednesday (though no one sent sympathy - I'd have rejected it anyway as I much prefer stoic perseverance on my own) I had a nightmare last Sunday when I tripped up at the top of my stairs and somehow didn't catch myself. I crashed all the way down an entire flight of stairs taking all the pictures of the walls and smashing my face in. It was quite painful. Don't scroll any further if you're afraid of real-life gore.

Amazingly I didn't damage my arms or legs. Given that my right shoulder is already posteriorly dislocated it was a godsend not to have been further damaged; at some point I do require a new shoulder but the longer I can put that off the better those that make 'em and 'fit' 'em will be at it.

So a bashed in nose, bruising and a few grazes of the face and a bit of a bruised side was lucky I suppose. That said ... never again. Please.

It has shown to me though how amazing the body is. In the space of just 7 days I have almost gone back to my usual face (ok, not nice but not so damaged). I also now know why in crime dramas the police always say a beaten up prisoner 'just fell down the stairs' - one little trip and you really do look like you've gone a few rounds in a boxing ring.

I think I need to reconsider keeping my ironing board at the top of the stairs. It really is a bit of a silly place to create less room and a trailing cable: Health & Safety gone. Mad.


Whilst recovering through Monday to Wednesday (luckily I was due to be off on Monday and Tuesday anyway) I did at least get to watch the entire 3rd series of Gomorrah. Wonderful telly; but I recommend you should watch it without throwing your selves down the stairs.

Lastly, I can now see how fast my stubble grows. I really should trim it ever day or two.

Right. Now I'm off for a shave (and I'll be careful on the stairs).


Flash Feed 1.17

Yesterday I got around to writing for the great FlashFeed photo prompt for 1.17 below. But when I posted it nothing happened. A quick (if late) check of the rules and I found the date closed at midnight Monday. Doh! Anyway, for what it's worth here it is.

Click on the link to the
FlashDogs site so that you too can find it and write for (preferably within the prescribed limits).


Health and Safety at Work

The fires of hell raged in front of Cameron and Ulysses slashing the sky with a scarlet neither of the firemen had seen before. Ulysses had fought fires in chemical works and waste storage facilities, he’d seen explosions from unknown gases and liquids pulsing and changing colour like a psychedelic show but he’d never seen anything like this.

Cameron shouted through the mic surprised that they could hear each other with the tumult outside. ‘What is it burning Uly?’ He checked the latest readout, which indicated the fire was burning at beyond 1600C. It had been burning now for 3 hours.

‘No idea Cameron just keep aiming the foam toward the base. We’ll have to swop with Indigo in five.’

Cameron and Ulysses stood their ground in the face of the onslaught, both having the same thoughts; it must be some sort of chemical fire, they knew no raw materials that burned with this rage or this colour and why was it not burning itself out? Something was feeding the fire.

The indicator lights flashed green on the hose. The foam was running out. Team Indigo would be tag-teaming in within the next 90 seconds.

A wall of heat broke on the men like a tsunami forcing them back it was getting out of control. Nothing the firefighters had tried had worked. They were barely keeping it within the confines of this sector of the site and no-one knew what lay beyond that hangar and storage depot; Sergeant Floyd had told them about the fuel lines and the oil storage area beyond the next hangar and there were limited cleaning and disinfecting fluids and powders all with the propensity to burn or explode, but nothing on this scale.

Then again they all knew there were unfathomable risks when assigned to Area 51.

In an emerald flash of lightning the fire disappeared and the men of Team Hawaii and Indigo, with nothing now to brace against, fell over like children playing tug-of-war.


Turkmenistan Photos

Can't believe it is three weeks since I held an online Twitter vote on what Memoirs piece to write next; which is another way of saying er I haven't done it yet. Let's just say one thing and another has got in its way (and I also may have forgotten about it). Anyway the winner was 'Turkmenistan' and I have now started it. Hope to get it finished and up today. In the meantime here are a few shots I took in the country.

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A Government building and the Russian Market in Ashgabat and a bread seller near Guardak, north east Turkmenistan.

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A seed seller and me playing Russian billiards.
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One of the remains at Merv (Mary) on the Silk Road and me near the Afghan border.
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Salt at the Gulf of Karabogaz and a ubiquitous statue of 'Turkmenbashy'.
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An evening of vodka, beer and bbq in Krasnovodsk (Turkmenbashi) by the Caspian and a massive though apparently 'cursed' mosque in Ashgabat.

Camels running near Merv and motorbikes with modified side-cars.
The pontoon bridge over the Amu Darya (aka the Oxus), near Turkmenabat in north east Turkmenistan and a Government building in Ashgabat.

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The 'Arch of Neutrality' or Tower of Power in Ashgabat (complete with rotating gold statue of the first hero of the Turkmen state).