so it begins

Set the computer at eye level, hit record and start to read off the copy I put on-screen.

What did I get?

Too much echo, if I go quiet and move really close I get a lot of mouth noise. There has to be a better way.
I edge backwards and forwards, I never realised just how much mouth noise I have when I speak.

I arranged and rearranged acoustic foam behind and around the microphone. I purchased a pop filter and a shield that mounted behind the mic trying to cut the echo.

To get rid of the mouth noise I started recording in shorter and shorter samples. This gave me another problem, the clips added a click between each phrase. Not just the click of stopping and starting, but what turned out to be a common problem with audio clips that need to have the zero point perfectly aligned.

This meant each recording session gave me a hundred clips to trim, align and edit … is this how it should work?

The gear…

I have a Blue snowball microphone, hp headset and a retired dell xps laptop.

The dell is overkill, but as my day job is computing I buy a new computer before the current one dies. So, cleared of sensible stuff, the dell is a pretty good ‘playtime’ machine.

The blue snowball was purchased 50% based on reading reviews and 90% on it looking cool. Yes, the maths shows heart ruled head. It is, however, a good microphone. However, see later progress before rushing to the stores.

Headset … I needed something for online meetings, they work … what’s the problem?

Last time I tried this, I had to set up my recording studio each time and this meant every session sounded different. This time, new office, I could set up and leave it all in place. Should be better quality, right?

Microphone, and computer set up on a head high shelf.


I’ve dabbled for years and always end up back with Audacity. I’ve tried to get my head around Reaper, but it hasn’t yet grabbed me. I will, I know one day give it another go, but at the moment, Audacity is the easy choice.

The pro favourite appears to be Adobe, but I am not in the creative league that justifies that kind of spend!

Audiobooks – How hard can it be?

A long flight, or a day of rain on holiday proves that if you read solidly for a full day, you will finish most normal sized books.

My children and grand children know I love to read out loud.

The idea to record me reading a book seemed a good one. I switched the microphone on my pc and read. I was reading one of the Narnia books, a favourite of the grandkids and of mine. The result seemed quite good and so I decided to do a bit more.

A while ago I bought a ‘decent’ microphone, with a view to trying some recordings. I actually got some way through recording Pog, but a house move killed the last bright idea.

New office, new sound.

I worked through the first few chapters. No matter how much I tried, I could not convince myself it sounded great.

Was this a technology, technique or talent failure?

I invite you to join my journey into the world of trying to make an audio book.

Using a kindle Paperwhite as a word processor.


Because it is all you have with you? Because the screen is easy to read in the sun. Or because you can?

I am not saying this is the greatest WP system in the world, but it does have the big advantage that the battery lasts forever and the screen is so easy on the eyes.

Step 1 – Make a document to upload

As I use Scrivener, it is pretty easy to make a document called wp (or whatever else you want to call it.) It has a single page with twenty numbers on it. I can then compile that to a mobi or a docx file to be uploaded to my Kindle.
A docx appears to work fine, so just about anything will work to create one of these.

Step 2 – Upload it

I use the email function to send documents to my kindle. It seems the easiest way to get things on there.

Once it is uploaded to my kindle I can open a note on any of the numbers and start to type.

Step 3 – Create a Note

This part isn’t the greatest, but it does allow me to type and edit the text.

Step 4 – Get the text back

Once at home the kindle can be connected to my PC with a USB cable. It shows up like any external drive.

By going to the documents folder,

I can open / copy the My Clippings.txt file and grab the contents to copy and paste into a real word processor to finish off the job.

As you can see, the My Clippings file gets a new entry each time you edit

Write to prompts

Everybody will say. The key to being a writer is … write.

Don’t talk about it at parties, or on social media. Just write. At first possibly we all want to write the bestseller. One book that means we never have to work again. It didn’t happen for me, and I suspect it won’t happen for you.

Writing is a craft and we have to learn as we go. My suggestion is try a few short stories. You could do worse than look at the nudge page and see if you can get a short story, say a thousand words based on a choice.


By taking a set of prompts, I often find I can pull something together.

Remember, the first ingredient is conflict. As is the second and third. It is conflict that keeps a reader reading. How do we do that?

Scrivener Editing

Screen shot of Amara

I have used a different technique to write ‘Amara’s Destiny’. An author friend I trust uses the technique of looping back to the beginning every 10k words. Although I started to hate the characters I have done it and liked the result. However, the looping back on a 100k novel means whilst the front of the story gets edited ten times, the tail of the writing is quite new.

Also when I realised a major change had to occur, such as, completely removing one character, I had to go back to amend ‘well-edited’ scenes. I write each scene as a separate section, with a folder for each chapter.

What I came up with was colour-coding each scene. It starts white, and gradually progresses to dark blue, at the moment this is a seven option grading. The whole chapter is set to reflect the colour of the lowest scene within it. If I do a major edit, I knock the colour/ status back.

I hope this will show me how well edited I think it is before I submit to the professional editor. Who will rip it apart and kick every chapter back to first draft status!

Audio version of Pog

It all started as a bit of a joke. I love to read to my grandkids when they stay over. I read out loud and they quickly fade under the lilting (or boring) tones. This was part of the inspiration for writing Pog, I wanted a book I could read to them.

So when my daughter joked about recording my voice, I nibbled and then bit. Now I’m addicted to the task. First version was easy. But then I noticed the breathing noises. Can’t have breathing. Then the mouth pops. Who knew I I couldn’t speak without being so noisy?

Then, I recorded three chapters over in Wales. They sounded good, possibly the best I had done, but they also sounded … different. The whole timbre and tone was not the same as recording in my office.

I decided to press on and come back to them later, but they kept niggling. So four weeks on and am still cutting the first chapters. I have bought a new microphone.

The internet is full of articles about microphone techniques. Some say get really close to the microphone to cut out the room echo.

Others say back away from the microphone to get rid of the mouth pops. I suspect it is one of those things professionals get to learn.

Another said fill the room with soft cushions, whilst one said they recorded with a blanket draped over them.

I tried the blanket thing. One, it gets hot and two, it is impossible to control a mouse a keyboard and read from a screen whilst fighting a blanket!

I have almost got the first half dozen chapters done now. I am putting them on a page on my website.  Will I make it through … I honestly don’t know. It takes me around an hour to do a thousand words. It will be a long haul. But getting obsessed with getting it right sometimes helps …

Try them at

The Third Idea

I was told that when I was writing, to seek for the third idea. It’s not an original suggestion, in honesty I have no idea where I first heard it.

The fact is that for me, it seems the only way to reach for the original twist (If there is such a thing.) My first few ideas are usually old hat and cliched.

I recently considered  a short story competition. A call out for tales of the end of the world. Not, a fantasy, a real life, could happen style wrapping up of things.

It coincided with seeing a meme about the bees. Now, my cynical head says, why would Einstein know about bees? He did maths and physics. AND nobody can actually attribute the statement to him.

However, what would happen if the bees fought back …

Sounds good. However, a niggle says that HG Wells might have beaten me to it. I recall a short story, I think spiders slowly emerging from the rain forests (Oh, rain forests, save that idea as well.) Then I also remember Frank Herbert (Dune), he wrote The Green Brain – insects fighting a terrorist war against humans.

So, how do the bees get into the population? Obviously, an activist releases them … planet of the apes, 28 days, possibly a dozen others I haven’t yet recalled or seen. What if the scientist becomes taken over by the insects.

What if, what if, what if …

Time to walk the dogs, stroll in the sea and let my head roam free.

Sadly, its too hot to walk the dogs and I’m currently in Crewe where the sea is a long way off.

Back to Amara’s Destiny

Possibly not every twist, but certainly a lot of them come by discarding the first couple of scenarios. Currently, Amara is fighting for her life. It’s the last big battle of ten years of writing.

Should it really end with her simply being better than her foe?

Could it end with her impaled on a spear?

Maybe she woke up and it was all a dream.

Shirl The Smith


Started playing around with ideas. Hoping to create a kind of Aesop’s fables. Tales that aren’t too long for a single telling and hopefully carry a moral that can be discussed.

Shirl the Smith is possibly the only book ever written in Serenia. It is the tale of a girl expected to become a warrior, but instead becomes a Smith and travels the world of Shudalandia.

Once the first full draft of Amara’s Destiny is complete, I hope to take ‘How Shirl Became A Smith’ all the way to a released short story. Certainly this should be before Christmas.

Is this really Shirl in the picture? At the moment, I’m not sure. I am doodling a few characters, but I think this is close. Maybe she’ll start off with thinner arms and legs and bulk up as the book progresses.

Amara? Is coming together really well. I have a beginning, middle and end. Nail-biting, tear-jerking and hopefully a couple of big surprises.