My Geek Box Review

Over the past few years there’s been a huge rise in the popularity of randomised subscription boxes. Most of you have probably heard of these things in one way or another, but let’s explain for the few that haven’t.

The idea is that you sign up for an ongoing subscription (which can usually be limited in length up front) then each month you get a box containing items that would be worth more than the subscription fee if you bought them up front. The items are usually built around a theme but you don’t know what you’re going to get until the box arrives. For some people it’s a little money going from their account in return for a surprise present through the door every month. Others use them to get cool exclusive items or only sign up for a single month subscription when the theme is something they’re interested in. There are now dozens, if not hundreds, of different boxes available throughout the world from premium shaving kits to healthy snacks to geeky socks (one I aim to sign up for later in the year because, seriously, do you know me at all?).

My Geek Box is a service in the UK that has been going for a while now. I’ve flirted with the service a little, taking advantage of the single Christmas box they make to add an extra joint gift under the tree, but never gotten around to testing it fully until February this year. When I received an offer in the post to sign up for a single box and get two Welcome boxes (identical boxes, with one to go to someone else who wants to see what the service is like) it seemed like the perfect time to try the service. I’d get two boxes for the price of one (as well as a box to give out) and be able to get a good idea of the overall quality of the service. Genius plan eh? Continue reading

Rewriting Rewriting Rewriting

This year I had a good, hard (behave yourselves) look at my writing after letting it stew for enough time that it was almost like reading someone else’s book. And then I started to completely rewrite my first book from the ground up in a completely different style. There were personal things along the way that slowed and, at one point, completely halted the project, but I persevered. And now that rewrite is complete. 

Well, I say complete. There will be no new plot points added. There will be no more structural changes. Hell, even the chapter names are pretty much set in stone now. But there will still be edits. Kim is Beta reading the book for me and pointing out problems (dialogue choices that don’t make sense outside of my internal narrative, the odd paragraph that I’ve rewritten several times and left multiple versions in, one quite terrifying contradiction that implies the insects of my world are the size of large dogs) and I’m fixing those problems. Sometimes that’s as simple as changing a word. Sometimes it means rewriting several paragraphs. And sometimes it means taking a favourite line and trashing it entirely. It’s hard, but necessary if I want this to be the book I know I can write. 

After that I’m going to be running my narration (not the dialogue though) through some web tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway that help by pointing out useless words, incorrect tenses, and other mistakes in writing. Of course, to keep this with the flavour I’m trying to give it, I won’t be listening to all their advice. Sometimes the flaws are what gives something character, after all. But it will help me to figure out some of my own weaknesses as a writer, and let me fix this up so it’s a little more professional.

So, with loads of editing before me, I’m kinda done and have moved onto my next project in this phase (I view each main trilogy book and the stories surrounding them as a phase). I always said that I wanted to surround my main trilogy with shorter stories that inform some of the characters who have bit parts in the main books. And I wrote five short stories to go along with the book that I’ve just rewritten. Two of those were beautifully intertwined with events that take place in both, so I’ve picked them out and I’m now rewriting them as a single companion novel. It’ll be a lot shorter than the main book, which in its current edit comes in at five hundred and six pages (with as much cut and deleted as it currently on the page), and I’m aiming for it to have several functions. The first is as an introduction to my world, as I may give this away for free to promote the main book when I start selling. The second function is to serve as a bridge between the main books, as both this companion novel and the main book of phase two will be set in a city that I only mention in passing during the first main book. And, finally, two interesting characters get to have their stories told without it getting in the way of the main story.

Eagle-eyed readers, and those with basic math skills, may have noticed that there are three short stories left from the five I wrote and may be wondering what will happen to them. Well, I’ve slated one for a rewrite as my world has evolved so much since I wrote it that it may as well be in another world. Once that’s complete I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. I may serialise it online or perhaps give it as a value added extra to readers. It all depends on how the market works when I get around to publishing. A second tale is pretty good to go right now, but I’ve some ideas that can help make it better. That one will be released as the start of phase two, with the details again depending on how the market is working by then.

The third one just doesn’t work at all. At the time I wasn’t the writer I needed to be in order to pull something like that off. Now, I’m writer enough to scrap the entire story and take some of the ideas and presentation into the companion novel I’m writing. Though that story has been shelved for now, I will return to it at some time, but probably not until phase three where it would fit better.

For now, I’m concentrating on finishing phase one off. So I’ll keep rewriting this companion novel, then finish the edits on the main book, and then rewrite the short story before moving onto phase two. What’s phase two? Well, like this, it starts with completely rewriting several hundred pages of book so that it’s a better read. The difference this time is that I know now that it will be a better read once that’s done.

Where The Wilder Things Go

So I just heard that Gene Wilder died. And it feels like a little of the laughter of my youth died with him. Seems like a lot of that is happening this past couple of years. Perhaps I’ve just hit that age.

I remember so many of his films, from his absolutely brilliant pairing with Richard Pryor to his still definitive Willy Wonka, but it was the work he did with Mel Brooks that sits closest to my heart.

image by Zachary Bellissimo

Young Frankenstein was released three years before I was born and it captured the classic horrors it was satirising so well that it did actually scare me as a young child. It’s sitting proudly on my DVD shelf right now as one of those films you have to hold on to.