Monday 3 October 2016

Another chance to catch Karl for FREE

This weekend there will be another chance to download the first book of Karl's adventures for FREE on Amazon Kindle.

The Kindle edition will be free to download between
Friday 7th October and Tuesday 11th October 2016

Sorry this offer has now expired.

A big thank you to everyone that took the trouble to download book one over this weekend. I hope you enjoy the adventure.

So join the good folk of Miltonburg in this exciting adventure...

Saturday 13 August 2016

Varnished At Last

It’s been a long time coming, but finally the haunted house has been varnished. Last weekend, after blowing up the mower, I decided that Sunday would be dedicated to the models, weather permitting. 

Fortunately the weather was, quite breezy but warm, so with the shade up I finally got the mother of all varnish jobs finished. After a few hours with the tin of varnish and the brush the haunted house is now all but complete. 

The only thing left is to reattach the stone ‘support’ pillar which keeps coming off. I also got four of the larger ghost town models that had been recently painted up varnished as well in the mammoth session. 

The painting of these had not gone as well as I would have liked. The Wilko paint I had been using for ‘Burnt Umber’ has been changed since I originally discovered it. 

Although the tube are much larger, so more paint yay! this new version of Burnt Umber has come out more redder than before and I was forced to add a lot of additional black and white into the mix to tone it back to the darker wood effect I had previously taken to.

With Hobbycraft having had a special offer running this month on their acrylic paints I have taken the opportunity to pick up a selection of black, grey, white, umbers and others from their range and will be trying those out soon. 

Meanwhile, whilst the mower was blowing up, I’ve also suffered a hard drive failure, some data was recoverable from backups but other data wasn’t. Hence the blog silence for a bit. I have however made good progress on the tapestry and will be posting some new photos soon. 

(Oh and I not mention the boiler... They say things come in threes so I hope that’s me off the hook for several years now please!!!)

Friday 24 June 2016

Karl Gets Kindle Preview Tool

The pages on the blog dedicated to the trilogy that tell the story of Karl Axilion, the boy who should never have been born, now have Kindle style previews courtesy of Amazon.

This allows you to view, Kindle style, the beginning of each adventure as if you were previewing it on Amazon.

Monday 6 June 2016

June Update

Thought I would share a quick update on some of the models that have been gathering on the workbench.

The four larger additions to the coffee stick ghost town have all now been undercoated and have received their first round of brown shading, the burnt umber & black mix. Next stage for these will be the burnt umber layer.

The other smaller buildings are beginning to start taking shape. These have all been given roofs which have been tiled with tiny pieces of cut cardboard. Chimneys cut from foam board off-cuts which will be covered in putty and the rest wooden exterior walls.

And finally this one, with cardboard shuttered windows – still not quite sure about them, but we’ll see. The wooden overlapped roof has now been finished.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

And so it begins

Now that I have finally succeeded in the annual rediscovery of the back garden, hacking through the undergrowth that looks like a scene from the 'Lift After Humans' DVDs, I can venture forth and start sanding down and painting some of the models built during the cold dark days of winter.

This is not this year's photo, but the scene before and after from a couple of years ago, however it was very much the same.

Hopefully from now on I will not be delayed posting as the problems with syncing the photos from the phone to the laptop have mysteriously gone away (after trying many online resolutions regarding turning settings off and on, deleting profiles and sacrificing chickens - none of which worked) it just started to work without any prompting, just as I was about to resort to manually transferring them.

The first three buildings have been rubbed down and had final fixes made to them, and two of them have now received their base coat, when this is dry I'll check for gaps where crevices need to be touched up before starting the first round of varying shades of brown.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Little Houses Part Two

So far so good, getting somewhere with these smaller models. Continuing on, a little later than planned* from my previous post.

Roofs are on and I even managed over the recent back holiday to get a lot of tiles cut ready to stick on to them.

They are now beginning to take shape, and I find I can pick these up and do a little bit on them in short bursts when taking the odd break between doing garden clean up stuff, yes it's that time of year again, and the housework and the writing.

I found myself watching a DVD boxset of an old series 'Life After People', by the end of the first series it did begin to feel a bit monotonous but there were some great images of deserted places and buildings being reclaimed by nature.

I'll certainly be returning to these programmes when the time comes to build some more abandoned worlds.

(*) This post has been delayed due to problems with photostream syncing since I upgraded my phone. 

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Little Houses Part One

Getting too large
One thing I've noticed recently is that the models are getting larger. There are not many basic homes coming out of the coffee stick ghost town production run. Aside from using random boxes used as the basic structure, I think I'm getting larger in order to get through the stockpile of sticks that are threatening to take over the kitchen.

It also means that to do any modelling starts to become a larger undertaking, shifting boxes and large models around before I can begin. I started, a few weeks ago, to prepare small boxes whilst waiting for the microwave or kettle to do their thing.

I've decided to keep the models from these boxes small, and to tile the roofs with small card squares like on some other models rather than use the wood. I should be able to work on these quicker, see results faster which might encourage me to work on them in odd moments rather than put off the modelling until I have a longer free period.

This small collection of buildings will be more basic and homely, and I have a game project in mind for them.
But that's for later. In the meantime, let's get started sticking the boxes together and getting the roofs on.

To be continued...

Sunday 27 March 2016

A Stitch In Time

The B&W section, how many can you name?
In the last post I mentioned that other things have taken my attention above building the ghost town.

So what have I been up to? Well the heating hasn’t been behaving too well, so I have been retiring earlier than normal and taking up the work on the Doctor Who Tapestry with more gusto.

Some evenings I have been spending a good two to three hours stitching away whilst listening to the BBC Audio releases of the Target novelizations, taken in story order.

This means that I have managed to progress the tapestry quite well since my last post upon it, back in July. Then I was working on the black and white section.

Joining the panels together

That is now attached and due to an error in measurement, I worked the piece larger than initially marked out on the material, I have had to add an additional strip along the top of the canvas to level the top up again.

This is what I am working on at the moment, having to join it to the main body as well as joining some strips together because of the size of the original work.

This means I have been extending backgrounds upwards, some additional camouflage for the UNIT section and blue and green time tunnel above the section for the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee.

At the moment I am listening to the three stories that have been released in the Key to Time series, a section I completed a few years back on the tapestry. 

It does feel more engaging when the area I am working on matches the material being played, but that cannot always be the case.

Some areas have come out more satisfactorily than others, and there are sections I intend to go back, unpick and rework. There can be various reasons for this, and the first thing to do is to identify what has exactly gone wrong. Not always easy, it is easy to see that something is wrong but not so clear as to what remedial action is needed to rectify it.

The Key to Time, elements from all 6 adventures.

Spearhead from Space & Terror of the Autons

I’ll cherry pick some of my favorite Target based audio books in my next post.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Two Minutes Modelling

With my attention somewhat distracted on other projects at the moment, the collection of boxes saved for recycling and the stack of sticks are stocking up and the ghost town remains as a pile of pieces. With all of the materials stacking up in the kitchen I’ve taken to performing two minutes of modelling at a time making use of  the time I wait for a kettle to boil or the microwave to go ding. It’s funny what you can achieve in a couple of minutes.

Over the course of a week I’ve been dismantling the small boxes, turning them inside out and gluing them back along with slices of toilet roll tube as reinforcement.  When turning the boxes inside out you need to leave time between each step for the glue to dry, you can only work on each box a little at a time. This is one of the reasons I’ve not engaged in large scale work recently. But working like this I have at least managed to make a little progress in building up a collection of boxes ready to form the base shape of the next building.

This week alone I have got seven boxes ready over the course of making a few cuppa soups, coffees and hot chocolate drinks.

Step 1, split the box down, fold back each flap and re-glue the main edge. Clamp and leave to dry.
Step 2, (next session) glue down the flaps from one end. Leave to dry. Probably about enough time to repeat step 1 on another box.
Step 3, Insert a cut length of tube to strengthen the box, glue and fix down the last end. Place weight down to hold in place. Probably enough time to perform step 2 on the next box. And so on...

Friday 4 March 2016

Three Fantoms and a Ghost Ship

A treasured collection
It's been a while since I posted a book review, so I thought it was about time I put that right. Recently I have been reading a selection of books from Fantom Publishing, reprinting some novelizations of children's drama serials from my childhood days. It's funny but I don't actually recall them, and the stranger part of that is the subject matter would have wholeheartedly appealed to me then, and still does.

So how did I miss them? Maybe they clashed with something else at the time and I just didn't get to know they were on, remember this was the dark ages of TV when if you missed it, you missed it. There was no catch up, DVDs or even home videos. I have attempted to track them down now on DVD but delivery has been a problem, they have yet to arrive so I can't comment on the original dramas just yet.

But the books make for excellent reading, all very enjoyable.
So what were they?

My Good Reads rating *****
Children of the Stones 
by Jeremy Burnham & Trevor Ray
Based on their HTV TV series from 1977

The first of two fantasy series written by Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray for HTV. Matthew and his father Adam Brake arrive in Milbury so that Adam can perform a study of the standing stones and the stone circle that surrounds the village. Very soon they become aware that all is not as it should be in the village, but the nature of their concerns is hard to fathom since the villagers all appear to ‘happy’. Only a few newcomers to the village are not in on the greeting ‘Happy Day.’

A wonderful blend of science and superstition make this a haunting adventure that will keep you enthralled to the end, assuming they are ever allowed to escape the stones.

Raven by Jeremy Burnham & Trevor Ray
Based on their ATV TV series from 1977

The second offering to children’s drama from Jeremy Burnham & Trevor Ray. This time the focus is on an underground cave system that the government are planning to take control of and use to store nuclear waste.  Raven is a young man with a troubled background, fostered to Professor Young and his wife, who are leading a campaign to prevent the development as the cave system has unusual markings and legends that go back to the time of King Arthur.

Drawing more on the concerns of the day this adventure, still full of mystery and suspense does lose some of the fantasy element with the inclusion of the nuclear factor. This time astrology sits alongside the science which muddles the fantasy elements a bit.

The Moon Stallion by Brain Hayles
Based on his BBC TV series from 1978

It seems that King Arthur and sites of ancient superstitious belief formed the backbone of children’s drama back in the 70s. It is 1906 and the Purwell family arrive in the Berkshire Hills at the invitation of Sir George Mortenhurze so that Professor Purwell can research the sites of the legends of King Arthur. On their way there Paul and his blind sister Diana encounter the Moon Stallion, a beast that has its own myths and legends surrounding it. Mortenhurze has his own reasons to search out the Moon Stallion and along with his horse master, Todman, have other plans for night of Beltain that will put them all in danger.

The original drama and the novelization were written by Brian Hayles famous for creating the Celestial Toymaker and the Ice Warriors for Doctor Who. Although that is not the only Doctor Who link, as Diana was played by a young Sarah Sutton who was to go on to play Nyssa of Traken in the series.

Another captivating and entertaining read, which again lifts from known legends and mythology but presents them with a new twist giving a setting to an exciting adventure which proves that writing for a young audience can be both original and inspiring.   

I will certainly be looking up Fantom’s other books in this range, Sky and Return to the Stones. Look out for reviews of them in the not too distant future.

A view of my own stone circle that features heavily in my writing and games
And finally, proving that I’m not easily pleased....

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste
By Valerie Martin
Published by Nan A. Talese

The book description promised adventure at sea, a ship without a crew, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writing about the mysterious ship and a spiritualist medium.  What it actually delivered was a mishmash of short stories that barely had the legendary ship as a passing focus. It was difficult to see how the initial account of the Briggs family, which suggested a very promising and engaging start to the novel, drifted off course like the ship itself into a sea of disjointed ideas. Unfortunately this has to be one of the most disappointing books that I’ve read in recent years.

That just leaves me to sign off this blog post by saying, "Happy day".

* This post has been updated to correct the fact that "Raven" was produced by ATV rather than HTV that produced "Children from the Stones" after viewing the Network release of the original series.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Little House on the Pile

A quick photo update this time of another of the coffee stick and box buildings for the Ghost Town collection. This is one I started towards the end of last year, which has finally reached the stage where it is ready to be sanded down. Like the other three that reached this stage over the winter months it will be boxed up until the warmer weather allows me to do this outside in comfort. Once that is done it will be painted up. Looks like there will be a lot of brown paint used as soon as the warmer weather arrives.

I like to try experimenting with each model in some way. 

This time instead of the vertical planks I usually use for the roofs of the buildings I took smaller random sized planks and applied them horizontally.  Maybe they should have been slightly layered. Although I think the effect has been achieved.

Friday 5 February 2016

Tissues at the Ready

Oh my, we’re nearly a week into February and this is my first post of the year.

Oh well, better luck next year with that. Anyway this post is to request some creative input from my blog friends. I did ask on my Facebook page but the suggestions didn't really help.  I’ll tell you more about them later. So what is the story?

It started when I updated my profile photo to this poorly soul photo. It was suggested that I would need plenty of tissues; little did I know that very soon that premonition would come true.

The next post was to ask what I should do with the collection of debris. You can sing this to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Three Tissue Boxes
Two Lemsips
And a packet of Para-ceta-mol (*)

Some suggestions were to Google Blue Peter videos on YouTube, along with a Tracy Island, Bad TARDIS, monster feet and a guitar. Two people instructed me to recycle, hmm don’t know me very well; I’m looking for a more constructive way to recycle them into something for the Ghost Town.

Anyway, having dragged my carcass back into the office I was rewarded with one of those meetings, whereby the only way to mentally survive is to doodle on a Post-It with a red Sharpie.

The best I could come up with was this. 

There has to be something constructive I can do with the arches. At the moment I just can’t think of it. 

The only rule has to be the exterior has to be a coffee stick building since it is only the Ghost Town that is made from recycled boxes, other models do require a more solid base to apply the clay and other materials.

So now it’s over to you, what suggestions do you have?

Here's a quick photo of one of the current models in progress. Surprisingly I've not got very far with the models this year either.

(*) Do not overdose, always read the label, blar blar blar.