Blown away…

I’ve just learned a valuable social media lesson. Don’t retweet a tweet until you’ve checked the link associated with it … thankfully for a very positive reason!

When Big Finish tweeted the winner of their recent Vortex art competition, I had already received a very nice email stating that I hadn’t won, but that the standard had been extremely high. So, when I saw the image from the winner, Sophie Cowdrey, I thought nothing more of retweeting said piece with a small congratulatory message and continued with my day…until my friend Mark Clapham made a point of congratulating me for being runner up!

I quickly took a look at the Big Finish website to see that I had indeed been name checked as runner-up. To say that I’m shocked is an understatement…

You can see the news item and view Sophie’s entry here:

Vortex Competition Winner

Back in Orbit and tools of choice

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I have a real love/hate relationship with software. What I can’t bear is using multiple software packages with which to complete one job, but I guess when you have a habit of using various techniques to complete your work, it’s a tough ask for one package to do *everything*. Affinity are almost there with both their Designer and Photo platforms (They’re blummin’ lovely) for the artwork side of things, but I do find myself still sketching using Sketchbook Pro because it’s do darned natural to use…though it’s limited resolution does restrict it’s use. I now use it for preliminary sketching before porting and up-rezzing into Affinity. Both Designer and Photo now have page rotation in increments which really helps (You can turn the page, just like you would working on paper) but they are yet to have the fluid, completely flexible control that Sketchbook provides…but they are catching up!

On the music side of things, I adore Propellerheads Reason. Fairly recently upgraded and can’t quite get my head around how awesome it sounds. I also recommend Cockos’ Reaper for basic sound mixing. Lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard of people struggling with Audacity (As powerful as it is) to do heavy editing on a large sound file, yet Reaper makes it all so naturally. Once you get your head around the idea of non-destructive, physical editing, you’ll never sit twiddling your thumbs every time you try and remove a section from the beginning of a 30 minute stereo file again.

All this leads me to my latest software love affair. Scrivener. People just wouldn’t shut up about it. It can’t be that good, I thought and this was all before I even began listening to the Bestseller Experiment, who by their second(?) episode had not only bigged up the package, but had been offered sponsorship by the makers of the program.
I had a book to write. I was going to instigate my own NaNoWriMo over the course of a month, so, in true procrastinatory (Is that a word?) mode I thought that I would try out something new to make things interesting as they offer a 30 day free trial. Little did I know that I had chanced upon not only the tool of choice, but something that would ultimately mould my workflow into something pretty darn efficient…and I’m still learning new stuff that the thing can do.
What I found most helpful was that the program organises things in a way very similar to my own brain – except it does it, there, in the computer, rather than take up your brain space. It’s also flexible enough that you can reshape things to make more sense to you, personally. Website reference info can be imported into your document, negating the need to “nip” to Google every time you need to check the weight of a Swedish pistol in the 18th century and the avoid the lure of Facebook each time you open up Safari. Image reference files and your own character descriptions sit alongside your scenes, chapters and notes in a file system reminiscent of standard file structure – yet totally separate from the “body” of your work, so word counts are not affected by your meanderings and Tolkeinesque ventures into world building detail.
Seriously, it’s a joy to use and I very much doubt that I’m even using 20% of what it’s capable of.
All of this is a long way round to stating that on this, the first day of August and the first day of a new regime I haven’t managed to get anywhere near my daily word count because I’ve been fixing lights, filling new bookshelves, sorting out artwork for clients after doing a full day at work…oh…and rabbiting on about Scrivener on my blog…but I’ll get there!!
In lesser news, I’ve fallen in love with the new All Saints album. Don’t kill me. It has lovely William Orbit noodlings, which are always a familiar, warm place to stick your ears.

Peter Farrie’s Skeptileptic launch Wednesday 25 April

Way, way back when I first moved to Exeter, I got chatting with a certain Mr Peter Farrie on either Twitter or Facebook (I can’t quite remember) about songwriting. He was in the midst of a project entitled My Song Life in which he posted a song a month (With accompanying video I might add) for a year.

That year came to an end, but far from resting on his laurels, Peter continued to write and even found the time to play piano at my wedding. Since then I have held firm that I would like to return the favour by creating the artwork for his first album. That time has come.

On Wednesday 25 April, Peter is playing a special gig to launch the album, Skeptileptic, along with support and the opportunity to purchase said compact disc.

The album will shortly be available to pre-order.

You can find more details via Peter’s Facebook page or via his Twitter thread. Tickets for the launch night are available via WeGotTickets

Time Shadows E-Books Available For A Limited Time

The e-books of Time Shadows: Anniversary Edition and Time Shadows: Second Nature are now available for ordering for a limited time.

The Time Shadows Facebook page and website have all the details, including order links.

All sales proceeds benefit CODE NGO, Canada’s leading international development agency uniquely focused on advancing literacy and education.

I contributed a brand new fourth Doctor illustration for the anniversary edition of Time Shadows 1 and a short story called The Spinning Dancer for Time Shadows 2.

After The Ball by Simon Brett
After The Ball by Simon Brett

Whoblique Strategies

1977: Brian Eno and David Bowie apply random oblique strategy cards to the recording of Bowie’s Low and “Heroes” LPs. From rock ‘n’ roll comes a new kind of art.

2017: playwright Elton Townend Jones and his Vortex of Wholigans apply the same strategy cards to every Doctor Who TV story. From time ‘n’ space comes a new kind of magic.

Over 275 stories, over 275 bursts of fast fiction, 70 writers, 16 Doctors, and a whole new adventure across the history of everyone’s favourite Time Lord.

Whoblique Strategies from Chinbeard Books by A Vortex of Wholigans.
Edited, conceived and commissioned by Elton Townend-Jones.
Sleeve, internal illustrations (And various written contributions) by Simon A Brett.

Available direct from Amazon

The Unofficial Doctor Who Limerick Book

The Unofficial Doctor Who Limerick Book

Shirt once had an idea
To make a book with limericks appear.
To get the thing made
We asked people for aid
And now the charity book is here.

People sent in lots of poems
Even folks, though we hardly know ’em
We had pictures galore
And oh so much more
Now we are ready to show ’em

Available to order up until the end of April via featuring 3 illustrations by yours truly, with all profits going to MIND…