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Pulp Magazine Covers for All

The [Pulp-O-Mizer]( is a fun thing that lets you generate pulp-magazine-cover-style images, with your own text and good range of images, backgrounds, colours, etc. You can download web-size versions of your creations, or get them printed on cards, notebooks, mugs, etc, at [Zazzle](; though I haven’t managed to work out how to get it to use the UK version of the Zazzle site while still keeping your generated image.

Here’s one that I made using the title of a story of mine. It remains unpublished so far, but it was the short story that was the seed for the [novel I finished in November](

Pulp O Mizer Cover Image

Day Trip

We had a wee day trip to Cambridge yesterday (Monday). Lovely city. I took some photographs. They’re so small and unlinked because, I think, I’m experimenting with a plugin for Lightroom that uploads them directly to the blog. But I have a few wrinkles to iron out, I think. There are bigger versions of them at my Flickr account, if you’re interested.

First, some punters punting on the Cam:

Then the famous King’s College Chapel.  More of a cathedral, really:

This wee guy looks decidedly unhappy:

There’s a pair of war memorials in a side chapel.  A famous name at position 2 of the WWI one:

There’s plenty of stained glass, of course, but in another side chapel we see this interesting creature:

Then on to Trinity College Chapel, where Isaac Newton stands in marble:

Here’s a closeup of Newton.  I can’t work out what he’s holding:

And above him there’s this rather attractive chandelier and dramatic ceiling:

Strange Blog Behaviour

For some reason WordPress decided to repost the two posts that currently appear immediately below this one. I have no idea why. They have in common that they are both of the “Link” format (“Format” here is a WordPress concept denoting types of post).

The mildly annoying thing is that I haven’t posted here yet this year, and now I seem to have started the year with two reposts. I could, of course, delete them, but then the above paragraph would be wrong.

Anyway, this is the true first post of the year, even if it was triggered by an aberration.

Hello. Happy New Year.

Instagram and Terms

I never really got Instagram. I mean, I got the app, I signed up, and I posted a few photos. But I never totally got what it was for. I mean, social photos? OK, I followed a few people I knew on Twitter, but it never really amounted to much. And you couldn’t even see your pictures on the web at first. The filters were interesting, but only up to a point, and they got worse.

But somehow I could never totally see the point. Flickr I understood: it’s a site to store your photos. If you don’t have, or don’t want the bother of managing, your own web space, you can put your pictures there and show them to other people. And it’s got the social thing going on, too, with the ability to follow people and all that. It feels a bit bolted on, but it does no harm. And when I discover a site like 500px, as I did a few weeks ago, well, that’s obvious: a place to store your pictures and to find other people’s. Not for nothing is their tag line, “The best photos on the web” (or it was: today it says, “The world’s best photo sharing”, which is similar, but different). I just wish they’d learn how to keep me signed in.

But Instagram didn’t really grab me. And today they nearly ejected me.

Oddly for a net-based thing, I heard about the new terms of service on the radio. The story was that the terms were going to allow them to sell their users’ pictures for advertising, without paying, asking, or even telling the users.

I tweeted:

It turns out to be not as bad as we thought, at least according to this post from Instagram. Though I only found that because I clicked the “I’d like to delete my account” link. On the confirmation page there was a link to that post. It turns out there’s an Instagram blog, and both the terms of service change and this update were posted there. But who knew about that? So for now I haven’t deleted my account, and we’ll see how it goes. I found out about the change from the radio, and the correction by requesting a deletion; my inbox remains unsullied. How about a wee email, Instagram? You’ve got my address. Edited to add: According to this post, the new terms are actually better than the old ones.

November spawned some words (but not that many)

I’m not very good at this NaNoWriMo thing, it turns out (again). This year I declared myself a NaNo Rebel (basically anyone who aims to write 50,000 words, but not of a brand-new novel). I had originally hoped to finish my previous novel before November started, and leave November clear for taking a big run at the new one, the idea for which came knocking when I was about three-quarters of the way through the then-current one. But as it turned out I didn’t manage to finish it until a few days into November. So I decided just to count the words of original fiction I wrote in November.

Which proved to be just as well, because after just a couple of days on the new novel, I was cycling home from work one day when a short story deposited itself in my head, unbidden, but complete. I took a few days off from the novel to work on that, thus further ensuring my rebellious state.

As an experiment for my own interest, I also tried to keep a note of how many words I wrote for other things, both at home and at work; just to get an idea of how many words I write normally. I kept that all in a Google Docs spreadsheet, so I could get to it wherever I was. I’m sure I wasn’t complete in recording everything, though.

In the end I wrote 16,600 words of fiction;1 so comparable with last year. And oh, dear: reading over those old posts to get links makes me realise that this is the third NaNo during which I’ve been working on Accidental Upgrade.

But having said that, the thing that I’m underplaying in all this is that: I. Finished. My. Novel. 89,000 words of first draft, done and… well, left quite dusty, truth be told.

And a new short story drafted, and another novel reasonably well under way. I’m feeling quite positive about it all.

  1. And around 9000 of other stuff. 

Warren Ellis on Writing Dialogue

When you have a character talking, have two things you know about their lives in your head as you let them talk. Two things that make them what they are. What was their childhood like? What was their first job? Do they spend a lot of time alone? Are they guarded around people? Because dialogue is about moving information around and expressing character. What you know about them affects the way they talk. Take a book you like — or, hell, even one you don’t — and select a passage of dialogue, and see what you can learn about those characters from the way they speak. (And, on top of that, see if the way they speak changes during the course of the book.)

Via Warren Ellis.

New Camera; Also Reviewing Purchases

I finally have a dSLR. No longer do I have to hold my camera up in front of me in that quite silly-looking way; once again I can look through a viewfinder. Hurrah!

I say “once again” because I used to have — well, still do have, but almost never use — a film SLR, namely an Olympus OM-1.

With the new one I’ve gone over to Canon, though. It’s an EOS 600D; which rather oddly is known in America as the Rebel T3i and in Japan as the Kiss X5

Here’s a picture of Clapton Pond to show you what it can do. Click through for a better view on Flickr.


I bought it online for full £200 less than I’d’ve had to pay at Jessops; and by going to a site called DigitalRev I saved about £100 over Amazon’s prices. DigitalRev’s service was incredibly good: my camera arrived in London from Hong Kong in two days. It took a few more days for DHL to get it to me, but that’s not DigitalRev’s fault. Really astonishingly fast service, and for the cheapest price I could find anywhere.

The only slightly annoying thing is that I clicked a link in their email asking for comments (essentially to say the above); it took me to a site called Reseller Ratings, where I filled in a few boxes, and then hit “Submit”… whereupon it wanted me to create a profile before I could submit the review. And I just couldn’t face it. I’ll almost certainly never go to that site again, so even though it’s only a name and email (and password) I just thought, “No. I’d rather put a good review up on my own site.”

So think on that, people running review sites.

Generation: Inspired

So, it’s all finally over, and we go back to normal. Or perhaps not. The slogan of London 2012 was “Inspire a Generation”, and I think that has happened.

But the question is, what generation?

The tacit assumption was always that the slogan applied to the next generation: to teenagers and younger kids. Get them up off their arses, it implied, and away from their consoles, and down to their local sports hall, playing field, or pool.

Whether and to what extent that has worked will take a long time to see. But there’s another generation that is already visibly inspired, to my admittedly limited view.


Where by “mine” I sort of mean “everyone who’s not still a child.” Because what I’m seeing as I cycle to and from work these days is that the streets are packed with cyclists. And people out running, too; there are definitely more than usual. But it’s us London cyclists who are really showing up.

I personally have taken public transport to work only once since before the Olympics started,1 and I’ve been pushing myself to get that bit faster on my bike rides.

I’ve been thinking of it as something like, “Hoy! It’s the Pendleton-Trott-Kenny-Wiggins effect.” But that’s a bit unwieldy, and misses some names out.

It is clear to me, though, that the “generation” that is in their twenties, thirties and yes, forties — and probably older — are out there in bigger numbers than ever before.

We’ll see how it holds up as autumn and winter come in, of course. But vastly increased cycling in London? That would really be a worthwhile legacy.

Anyway, here’s my Flickr set from our second event at the Olympics, namely hockey. Click through to see the pictures bigger and with captions.

OverheadBritain vs AustraliaJust what blimp is it?Hockey up closeHockey teamsGoooooaaaaaallll!!!!
Riverbank by nightRiverbank by night 2Night matchA very dull first half

  1. Admittedly I was on holiday for around three weeks of that time.