Monday, 24 September 2012

Not this year


I made it to the finals of The Wales Blog Awards 2012 (muted applause from audience), in a shortlist of three for the 'Best Writing on a Blog' category (whistle and more clapping); I attended the event in Cardiff (some cheers); but I didn't win (deflated sigh from audience and apologetic look from the writer stood in front of them as pages fall from his hands like the sands of time. The audience leaves the auditorium.)

Still, I did have two lovely meals at VFS, a fantastic vegetarian Indian restaurant - if you're ever in Cardiff then please go along. Their takeaway snacks are well worth investigating too, especially the 'atom bombs'! I also stayed at my favourite Cardiff hotel, the Novotel, so got to enjoy the swimming pool, sauna and gym. The result: I felt like a winner anyway!

Actually, we're all winners. The other blogs in my category were really good, so any one of us deserved to win. On a larger scale the real winners are all the people connected to blogs. At the giving end we have the chance to communicate with a wide audience; and at the receiving end we, the readers, get a wealth of quality information and entertainment for free. Truly, the readers are the winners. Thank you, readers!

See the awards blog for some photos from the event.
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Monday, 17 September 2012

Some powerful short stories

Image CC0 via Pixabay

Following a friend's recommendation I read two short stories recently: one was completely new, one was revisiting something I read many years ago. Wow! Both really impressed me, primarily as stories, but with the added benefit of saying something about the world too. I love things that work on multiple levels. They're both concerned with women and society, like my recent story Balance.

I recommend reading both if you haven't already. This is what I said about them on Goodreads.

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Friday, 14 September 2012

Stories in games

Games (board games, computer games, playground games) are usually about one or two things. One is the system, the rule set. Some games, such as nought and crosses, only have that element. The other thing a game can do is tell a story, and sometimes they can do that in powerful ways because they let you join in, direct the story, and contribute to the ending. That leads to involvement and immersion, something every novel tries to achieve.

(Oh, I've just thought of a third thing games do - unless it is a single-player game, they can lead to social interaction, which can also be incredibly satisfying and an end in itself. Recently I was lucky enough to spend a week playing a huge variety of boardgames with some friends, and the social interaction elements were lovely, from the excited frenzy as a player made the dice roll they needed to become King of Tokyo, to the tense looks during Summoner Wars, to the rapidly made and broken alliances during Cosmic Encounter; or even the war-wounds and howls of disappointment from playing Geistes Blitz! Games like Werewolf are so good because of the social elements, the arguments and attempts to persuade other players. If you like boardgames, I highly recommend Robert Florence's Cardboard Children column on Rock, Paper, Shotgun [RPS].)

Much as I'd love to talk about board games, and the epic stories they can create, that will have to wait until another time. In this post I'm going to just look at single-player computer games with story elements, otherwise my scope is too large.

I've always been interested in the story within a computer game. Back in the days of my Atari 2600, and later 8-bit days (Atari 600XL, beloved Commodore 64, various Spectrum computers) I had to make up stories sometimes - or rather, I had to fill in the gaps - since the games didn't have enough memory to tell a full story themselves. Games like Antiriad, The Great Escape or Fairlight occupied my imagination, achieving far more than their 64K (about 150th of a single megabyte!) would suggest.

Dreamy Ruins


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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Wales Blog Awards 2012


September sings its song again. Today that song is rain, rain, rain.

But it's not all grey light glooms as I serve a piece of cake and some tea to my guests; I'm on a shortlist for The Wales Blog Awards 2012! Specifically, one of the three finalists in the 'Best Writing on a Blog' category. The three nominated blogs are all very different in style and subject so it should be an interesting decision for the judges: good luck to all of us. We'll find out the winner on 20th September at an awards ceremony in Cardiff. Keep an eye on the blog for the awards, since the event might be streamed live on the night.

You can also vote! There is a People's Choice Award for whichever blog receives the most votes. I'm not as high profile as many of the other blogs, but if you think my blog is worthy of your patronage, and you want to be promoted to a rank which entitles you to a choice of lemon drizzle cake or cherry coconut cake then please consider voting for me!
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