Monday, 27 May 2019


Good grief, I look at the date of my last post, and it's been over nine months. A lot has happened in that time, much of which has impacted my time devoted to maintaining and updating the apps that I have in the Mac App Store.

However, with Apple's culling of 32-bit support looming for the next edition of MacOS in the autumn, I've finally pushed ahead and completed the last few changes.

Everything is now 64-bit except for Subplot, which is going through the review process with Apple. I'm waiting to see if the Character Folio release goes smoothly, and then hopefully I'll release Subplot at the end of May or beginning of June.

On the novel writing front, it's been slow going. I'm still looking for an agent or publisher willing to take on Intertwined, but I am also gearing up to writing another new novel.

I've also been doing some short stories lately, and I'm toying with the idea of doing a compilation of them and putting them out myself. All of them have come about as part of the writing games my writing group does.

At the very least, things are starting to move again, which is a relief.

Happy writing!

Sunday, 19 August 2018

It's been a while

And in the blink of an eye, several months have gone by. 'Things' have happened, one of which being that my mum's rescue cat, Jess left us in March. We had no idea how old she really was, but we had nearly nine years with her, and at least those years were happy ones for her.

It feels like an age, but it's barely five months. In that time, I've had to carry on with the 64-bit versions of my apps - some of which have been released, with the others being tested.

Additionally, Apple are demanding iOS 11 versions of some of my iOS apps. That's really getting on my nerves. Enforced obsolescence. If there's one thing that Microsoft 'got' with Windows, it was making sure that older software could still run. Apple just don't care about it. My perfectly fine and working iPad 3 won't even update to iOS 10, let alone 11, so I don't even own an iPad that can run the version that Apple are demanding.

But, I've done an update for one of the apps that they're shouting about - it remains to be seen whether they accept it. If they don't then Apple themselves will simply remove the apps from the store.

In my writing life, I'm waiting to hear from a publisher regarding Intertwined, and I've been mulling over whether to take Mind Games forward. Our writing group is still looking for a home thanks to our old venue being transformed into a sports bar. We've taken to doing our writing games at home - it's not quite the same, but it keeps us writing.

Here are the rules: four or five words, get them from anywhere. Do a person, a place, a thing, and a mood, or just five random words. Then you have 20-25 minutes to write. That's it. Even if you never have time to write, you can give yourself 20 minutes, can't you? Don't edit it, don't think too hard about it, just write for 20 minutes.

And remember to enjoy it, because it's a wonderful thing.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Where has all the time gone?

It's nearly March? Crumbs, the time has simply evaporated. I've been busy though, perhaps that's what's happened, I've just not really noticed.

I'm still working on Mind Games, and I'm really happy with the major structure. There's still some subplot and theme stuff to plan, but it's shaping up nicely.

I've been quietly converting my Mac-based apps to 64-bit, ahead of Apple's deadlines later this year. The next version of OSX is apparently going to drop support for 32-bit programs, so in order to keep the apps working, I'm converting them to 64-bit. So far it's going well. There's some more testing for the first batch, and then I'll release them to the app store.

I've also been working on my game design - an RPG. I actually found the first incarnation (the very first germ of the idea) in a folder of old Visual Basic 6 code, that's how far back it goes.

I've had a couple of rejections from agents for Intertwined, but it won't deter me.

So, it's business as usual - writing, developing, planning, plotting, working. Just another day at the office.

Happy writing!

Friday, 22 December 2017

Merry Christmas

It's been a difficult couple of months. The usual doubts and anxieties over what I'm actually doing with my writing, as well as the app development - it all comes to a head around this time of year, as we all naturally start looking to the horizon and the new year looming.

I'm still looking to get Intertwined in front of an agent. So far I've had a really dismal 'Dear Author' reply, but I've also had a really nice rejection that was personal and hopeful, and made me feel as if I'm not completely wasting my time.

One of the novels I've had for a long time, is called Eight Minutes. I'm going to work on editing that down, and I think I may self-publish it next year.

I'm working on Mind Games at the moment, and my goal for the first quarter of 2018 is to get the first draft completed.

I'm using the plot of another novel that I've outlined as the basis for a game that I'm designing, but it's not ready to be revealed at the moment.

This year, I released my thirteenth app, Plotline 2. It's a Mac version of Plotline, and it's designed to be a simple way of plotting out the major beats for a story.

It's over six years now since I started developing apps for the Mac, so in 2018, I'm going to turn my attention back to Subplot, and see what I can do to give it a lick of paint.

It's been a bit of a slow year for games for me. But there have been three notable highlights: -

Mass Effect: Andromeda
Despite some dodgy animations, and some (admittedly) cringe-worthy dialogue, Andromeda is nowhere near being the insult to humanity that some on the internet would have you believe. I put 107 hours into it, and absolutely loved it. It's a crying shame that there will be no continuation of the story.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm
The prequel that no one asked for, but it's wonderful. It's been great to return to Arcadia Bay and see the relationship blossom between Chloe Price and Rachel Amber. So many terrific moments. I'm not even sure I want to finish it, because then it really will be over.

Doki Doki Literature Club
The little game that came out of nowhere and bowled me over. If you haven't played it, go and play it.

A special mention goes to Quantum Break. Another game that was seemingly maligned 'just because' when it launched in 2016 - but it's actually terrific!

So that was 2017 for me. I hope you all have a happy, safe, and festive Christmas, and a wonderful 2018.

Happy writing!

Friday, 20 October 2017

Plotline 2 released

It's been quite a while since we put out a new app, but Plotline 2 is finally available.

Plotline 2 is designed to help writers quickly map out a story, placing them on a scrolling view of the story. Each scene has an intensity value, that is intended to show how tense or important a scene is. Typically in a novel or screenplay, this intensity ebbs and flows, but generally moves upwards as the story edges towards the finish.

I wanted the original Plotline to work on the Mac back when I was designing it, but at the time, I wasn't convinced I could make the scrolling section/scene view work. On the iPad, it's a very intuitive, tactile screen, allowing you to move the intensity values for a scene in place.

Over the summer, I decided to revisit the idea of a Mac version, and I'm happy to say that I'm really pleased with how the functionality has been translated to the desktop.

One of the best features of the iPad version is retained - the OPML export. As a writer myself, that's what's driven most of the app design that I've done - time-saving, useful functionality. I use all my apps myself.

One of the most useful is the OPML export, because I use it once I've finished the Plotline (or now Plotline 2!) outline, and use Scrivener to import the OPML file. This creates the structure of the story instantly in Scrivener's document binder, with folders for each section, and a text document for each scene. Additionally, the scene details are copied to the synopsis for the text document, allowing me to basically get writing straight away.

I hope you enjoy using Plotline 2 if you give it a try.

Happy writing!

Friday, 13 October 2017


I've been working on a version of Plotline for the Mac. Based on my own use of the iPad version, I've included some modifications to the design that help with creating the scenes. Plotline 2 has been approved by Apple, so it will be releasing soon.

There are some looming changes behind the scenes at Apple's Mac App Store, so I'll be looking at what changes if any are required for my apps.

Hopefully Plotline 2 will be released before November.

It's a busy time of year for a lot of writers - particularly if you're gearing up to have a crack at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This year, it coincides for me with work on my next novel, Mind Games, so I'll be writing every day during the period anyway.

If you're taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, I wish you the best of luck.

Happy writing.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Short-sighted entertainment industry

So, Dark Matter was cancelled yesterday by SyFy, after three seasons. Not only was it a great little show, but you could tell how much everyone behind the scenes enjoyed it. I also watched the 'After Dark' discussion show, and you could see the joy on the cast when they got together.

Of course, that doesn't matter to what we out in the audience would probably describe as a 'faceless TV exec' - it's ratings and ad revenue, and a ruthless desire to cull anything that isn't working. The crazy thing is, that by all accounts, Dark Matter was delivering on the ratings - and even more so with DVR catch-up viewings.

What's worse, is that season three of Dark Matter ended on a cliffhanger. So that's it, goodbye, no wrap-up, no resolution. SyFy have just rebranded (with a hideous colour scheme, I might add), and their tagline is now "It's a fan thing". Clearly, that's a lie. That's one of the worst things you can do to your fanbase.

Someone at SyFy gave the okay for Dark Matter to have a cliffhanger ending. I think that that decision requires the network to accept a degree of responsibility towards their viewers: if you greenlight a cliffhanger, you're saying to your viewers (your life-blood, because without people watching your network, what are you?) - "Yes, we're doing a cliffhanger, and that means we're coming back, because we're not going to leave you hanging, we respect you too much to do that to you."

Of course there has to be some commercial interests in programming - it's a business after all. But what really grinds my gears is just how short-sighted networks seem to be.

Are we ever going to see something become the sort of phenomenon that gave us Star Trek? Not if those 'faceless TV execs' have anything to say about it. Anything that isn't a massive ratings hit straight away is earmarked for destruction. Nothing is ever given the opportunity to grow. Genre television has a tough enough time as it is - if networks keep alienating viewers in this way, then they will stay away from shows.

Three seasons is barely enough to get going. Star Trek: The Next Generation just about hit its stride in season three - imagine if that had been cancelled after Best of Both Worlds Part 1?

Already, a lot of people don't like even starting a new show - because they think "it's just going to get cancelled after one season anyway" - that, SyFy, is what you and the other networks are making your audience think. How is anything going to thrive or grow or last five to seven seasons if that's the way you make people think?

What's the solution? How about a different model for funding shows? Live ratings are a meaningless indicator. And honestly, don't get me started on 'retaining ratings from the previous show'! People are not stupid. Just because show X was on at 8pm has no bearing on who watches show Y at 9pm - guess what? Viewers are clever enough to turn the television on at the exact time they need if they choose to watch something.

The sad thing is, that Dark Matter had a lot more of its story to tell. Why isn't the show just the beginning? Why aren't networks looking at things like merchandise? Dark Matter easily could have been translated into action figures, toys, games, it's a sci-fi show for crying out loud! Why aren't networks looking at a show concept as an holistic entity - something that can be grown and expanded upon for the future?

At this rate we're never going to have new 'classic shows' - think forward twenty years. What are we going to be watching then? What will the classic shows be then?

The really sad thing is that genre television attracts some of the most passionate fans in the world. The sadness online at the moment over Dark Matter's cancellation is a testament to just how much the audience cares about the show, the characters, and the cast. You can't buy that kind of loyalty - it's earned. Dark Matter's earned that over the course of its three year run. I think that loyalty deserves something more than a shrugged shoulder from a network.

Timeless got a well-deserved reprieve earlier this year - so it is possible. SyFy, if you really do believe "It's a fan thing" - then you'll do something about keeping the crew of the Raza flying.