Desert Of Zin

The occasional blog of Alistair Bain – Writer, Husband, Father and Chief Techno-Arcanologist at the Institute of Giant Robots, Spaceships and Wizards. None of these positions pay well.

Happiness is…

Peace and quiet, despite being on a 8am to 8pm shift, and Sailor On the Seas Of Fate by Michael Moorcock.


And a couple of notebooks for scribbling my ill advised attempts and fiction. And a kindle. And my bottle of water.

Happiness. Without being anywhere other than work, I reckon things could be worse.

December 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm | General, Reading, Writing | Tags: , , , | No comment

LoNoWriMo (November day one)

It’s not NaNoWriMo, it’s LoNoWriMo!

It seems the differences are I’m not engaging with the NaNo community and that I’m working on something that needs a substantial edit and rewrite.

Word count from day one is 1073. Not a massive amount but it’s a start. And I don’t have a target in mind. Once the story is done, it’s done. And I’m taking 30 days to do it.

Day One Count : 1073

November 2, 2014 at 11:45 am | Writing | Tags: , | No comment

All the writing, all the time

Or, a bit of writing, last night.


This was my impromptu “home office” set up last night. After Doctor Who was watched, and very much enjoyed, I decided to dodge the usual late night time wasting of GTA5 and do some ACTUAL WRITING. Yeah, I know. What an incredible idea.

(The oversized keyboard in the picture belongs to Aurora. It’s meant to save her from battering the laptop keyboard. And the laptop is Ruth’s old one. Turns out the “u” key is a bit temperamental. So, I thought, I don’t mind using the bright green oversized keyboard. That lasted about five minutes before I settled on not minding about a single temperamental key.)

A few years back I successfully completed NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, with my sci-fi masterpiece The Planet Of Snakes. Don’t go there. There is honestly nothing Freudian about the title. Nothing at all.

I’ve tried editing it a couple of time over the years with no real success. Last night was another dig at it. What I ended doing was starting a rewrite. There are some good ideas in the original version but it’s too disjointed to make a decent story out of. That is, an edit isn’t enough. So, not with a heavy heart at all, I’m embarking on a longer novel than the first attempt taking part of the structure and dropping anything the clangs. And there’s a fair amount of that.

On the first attempt last night I battered through 500 words in about a half hour. And after reading it, it was binned. Awful. Terrible. I didn’t want to fall into the old trap of writing loads that was later unworkable. Neither did I want to edit as I went as that’s the death of productivity. (Once I wrote a chapter. Six months it took me. I was really pleased after countless revisions. Unfortunately, I ended up being sickened of the story and it still lies abandoned.)

So with 500 words written and abandoned I started again. But with the same approach I’ve taken with the few works I’ve actually finished. I one and half hours I wrote 382 words. But good words. I took my time, checking that what I was writing was actually worth being committed to the screen.

382 words. Not much. But 382 words more than I’ve written in a while.

September 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Gaming, Writing | Tags: , , , , | No comment

State Of The Al

(I’m using Aurora’s oversized green keyboard for this post. It’s not as easy as you’d think. :) )


I know it’s popular to review things at the end/start of every year and as loath as I am to share these days – have you noticed the tumbleweed blowing across the site this year? – perhaps it’ll do the ol’ noggin some good to commit things to the blog.


It’s the ever-present elephant in the room, isn’t it?

Writing last year has happened in fits and starts. Still more than the previous year, but nothing finished to a standard I was happy with and nothing submitted for consideration. I have, however, attended the last Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle meeting of 2013 and I’m thinking it’s a good idea to keep going. I know a few people who regularly attend and they’re the good sort. Next meeting is Tuesday the 7th of January. If I get something finished in the next day or two I might submit it for their review process. They don’t seem to have anything currently set for that day and I’m tempted to do something for this month’s submission theme for Crossed Genre Magazine. The theme is food. I have an idea. If I can get the bones of it done tomorrow, as Aurora is at the in-laws tomorrow and I don’t yet have a shift for work then I’ll let them have at it.

And, I was going to forget, I had created two e-books this year. That was exciting. The process was pretty straightforward and I have it in mind to do a few more, of greater lengths, this year.  Given inspiration and time, of course.

I keep meaning to promote the bloody things but there have always been reasons not to. Often these reasons are fear and doubt. It’s amazing how much anxieties stop you from achieving what you want, isn’t it? More on that later perhaps.

But what’s the worse that can happen if I push my own work? People wont like it. Oh, well that’s a shame. However would I cope? ( I really should have enclosed those last sentences in a < sarcasm > tag, eh?) I’m fully aware that i don’t write stories that everyone would like. That’s fine. I don’t like a lot of what passes for popular these days anyway.

To be honest, I’m kind of concerned that my breakthrough “giant snakes” novel will be well received. I’m not sure the world is ready for giant snake fiction. Perhaps, just perhaps, the world IS ready.



I’m going to have to do something different this year.

At the moment, work is an issue. And I’m talking about the lack of it.

I do care work for an agency, filling in where required across Glasgow for a variety of other organisations. Often they have asked for me to return, which is brilliant as it shows I’m not totally useless at the job, but there just isn’t enough work to go round. With the slashing of care budgets for vulnerable people there are less shifts to cover and I can imagine they are snapped up by their own staff with an increased eagerness before they are farmed out to an agency. Don’t get me wrong, despite the lack of work the agency are a good bunch but there’s only so much they can do.

This week I have one shift. It’s a day shift, which is always a winner, but it’s split between two service users across north-east Glasgow. A shift or two a week does not do much for the home financial situation. And as Ruth only works part time, earning barely enough to cover the bills, it falls upon myself to magic up work from somewhere.

Have I been applying for new jobs? You bet your arse I have. As yet, not even an interview but as I increase the rate I’m sending out my C.V. and application forms, something has to break. As long as it’s not me.

Today I’m cautiously optimistic but with no reason to be while yesterday I wasn’t optimistic in the slightest with many reasons not to be. Go figure. Where there’s life, there’s hope.

Mental Health

This is always fun… :)

Life is good today. The first day of the year has gone well. So far, 2014 is a winner!

The first half of the year was patchy, with small ups and downs littering the months. The latter half was a different bag entirely. After Ruth left her job in the Whitench Centre the mood in the flat IMPROVED DRAMATICALLY. Okay, so we’re even tighter for funds than we ever have been but I’d rather that than have her in the bloody place any longer.

I’ll only say of the place that it’s a badly managed shambles and the management committee are a disgrace. They have stumbled from one poorly thought decision to another. It’s a shame as the place has so much potential. But I’ve said more than I meant to.  Heh.

Also, Alan McWilliam, my arch-nemesis from Whiteinch Church is on the committee. No small wonder it’s a shambles.

On that note, Whiteinch Church. Four years since our unceremonious departure from that cult. I had a wobble that lasted about a week at the end of November, the anniversary of the whole bloomin’ thing. It’s not good that I’m still dealing with the fallout from leaving there but it IS good that it only lasted a week.

Anything else?

I’m not sure. I dare say that once this has been posted to the blog something else will occur to me but that’s all for now.

I suppose I AM positive for the future. Isn’t that the best any of us can ask?

Right, I’m done. Can I have my keyboard back please?

January 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm | General, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | No comment

Crossed Genres Magazine

While I remember, having mentioned it in yesterday’s post, there’s a monthly periodical called Crossed Genres. It’s in a DRM-free electronic format and a subscription – electronic only – is $15. You get three stories a month, all in that month’s theme.

While the three stories are published month by month on their own website, you do also get two compilations per year. And I do prefer reading fiction away from my computer screen. I tend to be too distracted to give it my full attention, so the portable electronic editions are worth it.

Also, and this is important, they pay their authors. So a bit of investment in that kind of genre periodical is something I can’t let pass. I’ve read the last two issues and the quality is pretty high.

If you like your genre fiction give it a try. Even in our current cash strapped times we can shill out what equates to less then a tenner for a 18 short stories over the course of a year?

December 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Reading, Writing | Tags: | No comment

So, I’m off this week…

With Christmas and Aurora’s birthday within days of each other it’s a damn fool idea to worry about what shifts I can scrounge from my current employer. As much as they’re a decent bunch, care work only has so much appeal. Less so when I’ve been working elsewhere for the lest two weeks and have quite gotten used to the golden fleece that is full time work, 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. Ah, yes. You don’t really appreciate it until you’ve been working back shifts in Kirkintilloch with an hour and a half travel home, returning shortly before midnight. And you wonder why few people want to do those shifts, eh?

So what? I hear you cry, the echo resonating across time and space…

So, while finances are tight, with money always being an issue, especially in these times of austerity, I really can’t find myself overly worried about leaving my availability open while there are other things to do.

But it’s not all Christmas and my daughter turning four. Oh, no. I think to myself, “Hmm, there’s a story needing edited, others needing finished, and I actually have some time to write!”

Steady on Bain, you handsome fool you. How can writing be achieved when you’ve just reinstalled Guild Wars? Rookie mistake, sir. Rookie Mistake!

In reality, there are always stories needing editing or finished. Like that’s ever going to change. Heh.

I do have something on the go, that’s needing done by the end of the week.  Remember the ghost story I might have mentioned before? Well, it stopped being a ghost story. And, realising that Crossed Genres magazine are looking for stories with the theme of Runaways, I’m editing it *again* in order for it to fit. Fortunately it’s a very light edit. Which is handy as I’m getting sick of the story and I’m gagging to get a move on to something else.

December 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm | General, Writing | Tags: , , , , | No comment

Catching up with Operation: Throw Words At The Screen

The Spires At Midnight was finished. I totally forgot to say that a few weeks ago. I’ve been able to fix an old laptop just enough so that I can get access to Draft. That’s easier for writing!

And my computer desk is cluttered with unpainted miniatures so it’s not the most restful writing environment. Heh.

The other main project I’ve been throwing words at has been the space fiction. This continues to rumble forwards inexorably. I have no plans for this stuff other than to keep myself entertained. I enjoy sf/sci-fi immensely but I wouldn’t dream of foisting my own attempts on an unsuspecting public!

So, I’ve not cleared through as much as I would have liked this month but at least my writing has fallen into a regular pattern. Which is just as well as NaNoWriMo starts on Friday…

October 30, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Writing | Tags: , , , | No comment

Another handy thing…

…about Draft is the ability to export a project to your Kindle.

I did this just before leaving for work with the existing portion of The Spires At Midnight, so I could give it the once-over on the way to and from my shift, and it really is incredibly handy.

And I realised something else. Spires At Midnight isn’t all that bad. Needs a good bit of tidying up but there’s potential. Just needs that new ending. I might have mentioned that before.  :)

October 4, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Writing | Tags: , , | No comment

Four days in…

…and I’ve loaded almost all my unfinished masterpieces into Draft.

And, so far, I’ve finished the first draft of a ghost story I was stuggling with before, and am now working on something else.

This other one had a quick ending, only because I was frustrated with the process of writing it at the time. I’m ignoring the last thousand words and I’m slapping on a new ending that should double its length.

So far, Operation: Throw Words At The Screen is working.

October 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Writing | Tags: , , | No comment

Operation: Throw Words At The Screen

I got talking to an old friend this morning, who I hadn’t spoken to for a few years, and in the course of the conversation she asked about a novel I was writing at the time. I had all but forgotten about it and was suddenly mindful of all the stories I had started which lie unfinished.

So, in the spirit of just geting things finished, I’m going to pull the finger out and commence Operation: Throw Words At The Screen.

It’s going to be difficult to resist the temptation to edit and fall back on previous words but if I can stay away from chocolate temptation (as I have for 5 weeks now) I can resist tinkering with already written words.

I’ll try to keep a regular update of how things are moving forward, providing that they actually do so..  ;)

And it gives me a chance to really get into using Draft:)

October 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Writing | Tags: | No comment