You do back up… Don’t you?

I’ve been working with computers for a long time. A very long time. I was in the first class in my school to do any form of IT. We had to take an IQ test to get in -yes I passed – and we’re taught about punched cards and BASIC.

Since then, I’ve taught computing, from spreadsheets to accounts to web design. I train and help people as part of my job and with relation to my writing. About 15 years ago I appeared on Sky TV to discuss online publishing as opposed to traditional methods and around the same time. 
So it’s been a while. 
Before my company really had a fully fledged network system, routed through Paris as it now is, my department had a local one and I used to do the nightly backups onto tape. 
Backups. So important, especially in these days where we record so much of our daily lives. There’s notes, calendars, photos, documents and so much more. I regularly insist to those I’m helping that they make regularly backups of their data. 
Well, you would, wouldn’t you?
Yes indeed. 
Ah. I mean no. Well, it’s not so much practice what I preach as do as I say, not as I do. 
Gone are the days of difficulty in saving your data. No more tapes, not even, really, the need for saving to disc – either CD or DVD. Now there’s flash memory in the form of memory sticks, and these are getting cheaper for more capacity by the day. There’s also the Cloud, an abstract mist of noughts and ones way up in the stratosphere. 
Well it’s not really like that, but it’s not physical to your PC. It’s not plugged into you. It’s somewhere out there accessible from pretty much any device you own.
Easy, no?
So whyohwhyohwhy do I not use it?  I have accounts with Skydrive, Google, Bitcasa, the Box and Asus. Gigabytes of virtual filing cabinets. Surely I use it?
You’d think. 
Part of the problem is time. I have so little. Another is that I write on my work computer during my lunch onto my memory stick. I don’t have Internet access there, though I do have email. As such, my memory stick has almost everything. Of course my phone has photos and a lot of music. I have a separate hard drive plugged into my home PC with all my albums. But my main, important stuff (other than my family photos, which are important too but in another way) is on my stick. 
And only on my stick
Gutted, was I, when I lost it. As I mention in a previous post, all my writing, covers, part complete stories and the sequel to Sin were on it. 
And it was gone. 
Thanks to Cindy Harper, I managed to recover most of Sin 2. Thanks to Zoe Adams, I hadn’t totally lost another important document. But the rest was gone. 
Except, a couple of months ago I actually did back it up to my Skydrive. I bought a new memory stick – 32gb for the price I had paid for 16 previously – and transferred it all to the new one. Phew. All was not totally lost. But then it was burning a hole in my pocket. Like Sin’s 2p coin, I was always fiddling in my pocket to check if it was there.
It was, but for how long?
I have a Windows 8 tablet and have the apps for my cloud accounts. I also have an all-in-one app to accommodate most. Unfortunately, with each if these and, in fact, their ‘proper’ web-based alternatives, you can’t upload a complete folder. Or I couldn’t figure out how to, at least.
Last night I was almost home alone. My eldest daughter was sleeping out and my wife was on a girls’ night out in Leeds so I wouldn’t see either until today. My two year old was asleep in bed. 
The perfect time to write, something I need to do.
Except I had this memory stick burning a hole, trying to escape. 
I had no choice. I had to properly back up. So thus began the painstaking and painful task of creating my full directory structure and uploading all my files into each folder. What a nightmare!
But it’s done. And hopefully I’ll make sure it stays done. I wouldn’t bet on it but best intentions and all that. 
Remind me, every so often, would you? Just to make sure?
Learn More

Kelly Samarah – Expand Your World…

This interview lark can be almost as much fun as the actual hijacking of this blog.  Not only do I get to oust That Shaun Allan bloke from his chair, but I also get to meet people almost as strange as me.  Speaking of which…


What’s your name?

Kelly Samarah


Hi Kelly.  Where are you from?

Molalla, Oregon, a little logging town nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Range and just a hop away from the Mt. Hood National Forest. I grew up here, moved to Salem, Oregon for ten years, and just came back a little over a year ago. It’s still small and close-knit.


Salem?  Did you have roads there, or does everyone fly on broomsticks?  Molalla sounds great.  I’d love to live somewhere like that.  Do you like living there?  If not, where would your favourite place to live be?  Is yes, where would you least like to live?

Some days you love it, other days you want to lock all your doors and pretend every other person who drives by your house really doesn’t know you. I love living in Molalla, so close to the river and the woods, but if I wish my house was further out in the country and not right in the middle of town. I hate being a “town dweller”. When my siblings and I were growing up, we always lived way out in the middle of nowhere, and it’s still hard for me now to be so close to civilization. I don’t suppose that will ever change.


When you’re in an asylum, there’s a lot to be said for ‘civilisation’.  If you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?

I am a writer, and no, it is not my day job. I still work full time. I never want to think of my writing as my “job”. If ever I am able to make a living off of what I love to do, it would be a dream come true, because writing, for me, isn’t because I want to be famous or become rich. I have stories twisted up inside of me, and I want to share them.


Good point.  Writing should be a ‘must’, not a ‘have to’.  Tell me about your latest project.

I will be releasing a book of short horror stories on August 25th, 2013, titled: Beneath the Blood Moon. I love to give people goose bumps. These stories were born from the late night “what-if” conversations commonly held with my son and my brothers. The best story ideas come to me after one of those sessions.


I love short story collections like that.  It’s good to be spooked in different ways.  How do you feel about bacon?  A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods.  OK, I admit that person was myself…

Bacon should be at the top of the food pyramid. I especially like it in vanilla fudge at Christmas.


Welcome to the asylum!  No, really.  Bacon and vanilla fudge…?  What is your favourite film?

I have to pick just one? Okay, I am a huge eighties movie fan, and my all time favorite is Ferris Buller’s Day Off. I know, cliché, but it really is, with Pretty in Pink running a close second.


Good choice.  The 80s are responsible for some of my favourite films.  The Goonies.  Labyrinth.  The Lost Boys.  I could go on and on!  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?

I always have been a writer. Reading and writing go hand in hand. I am a lover of books. No, let me rephrase that. I am in love with books. In kindergarten I was reading chapter books and getting in trouble for skipping ahead in our reader books. In second grade my teacher made me read all of my short stories aloud in class. Same thing in fourth grade. In junior high I tried my hand at poetry, and discovered I am not a poet. Fast forward to a couple years ago: Life had chewed me up and spit me out. I found myself a single mom, very little money and no future. Writing had been on the back burner for a long time. I decided to go back to school – for Criminal Justice of all things – and took a writing class as an elective. My teacher told me I was cheating myself if I didn’t focus on my love for the craft. I took his words to heart. How do you explain the feeling when you have finally come back to what you were meant to do? Complete? Not a strong enough word, I think. Maybe it’s unexplainable.


That’s wonderful!  It’s clearly a real part of you.  Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?

I have so many ideas I carry a small notebook around with me. I want to get a voice recorder, but the thought of listening to myself talk to me is unnerving. I would much rather write it down.


Phillip, in here, believes that, if he talks to the TV, it answers him back.  Have you ever seen someone argueing with a music video?  If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?

Demons, monsters. I would see them everywhere, but would it really be a delusion? I also think bouts of rage would fall in there somewhere. I can lose myself in my emotions.


Well, we have darkness and madness in each of us.  We must do battle with our own demons.  So that Shaun Allan guy tells me.  What genre(s) do you write?

Hmmm, I always hate this question. I write. I lean toward the horrific side of the spectrum, but not always. I have several ideas and story lines brewing from all over the board.


I know a guy who writes horror and children’s stories too.  Variety is the spice of life, so they say.  What genres(s) do you read?

A lot of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. Crime thrillers are starting to interest more as I get older. One genre I just cannot get into is erotica and romance. Just not my thing. I guess I’m too cynical.


Cynicism/realism – it’s a fine line.  If these are the same, what attracts you to them.  If they’re different, why do you think that is?

It’s not as simple as I love to be scared. A good horror writer can get into your mind and turn your doubts into beliefs. Think a monster can’t live in your closet? That’s impossible right? Then you read that book and suddenly you’re padlocking your closet door at night.


As far as Sci-fi and Fantasy, is the expansion on your world, the idea that there is more than what you see around you. How can someone not love that?


I completely agree.  Some things are darker than just the night with the lights out.  Bacon – just cooked or crispy?

Definitely crispy, but not burnt.


Too right.  Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out?  Do you have an escape plan?

Kill them all and run.


Oh, good luck with that.  You’d probably get a queue of people wanting to shake your hand.  Difficult, though, with your strait jacket on…

Kelly Samarah grew up in a small town located in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. When she isn’t busy working on a new story to share with her readers she enjoys cooking, music, painting and of course, reading. She also enjoys spending time with her dog, cat and two children.

An excerpt from The Edge…

….You want to remember? He hisses in my ear. I pull away from him as his face begins to change. His glasses melt into his skin as the color begins to change from a healthy peach glow, to gray, creased with ooze. His eyes become hollowed depths of black, his teeth jagged bits of metal waiting to slice my skin. I am frozen in fear as he wraps his once normal hand – now a gruesome claw – around my head. I scream and try to pull free. Rashelle’s voice reappears, encouraging me. No, Joe…it’s alright…I try to focus on her, but Dr. Gilson – the monster – begins pushing down on my skull. The pain is unbelievable. So white-hot I can’t utter a sound. My body jerks and contorts into positions it shouldn’t be capable of, and I think, This is it, I’m going to die…but she is there again, her voice weaving through the madness…remember…



Buy links:




Twitter: @kellysamarah

Learn More


I sometimes wonder if I should write to a specific genre.  People do, don’t they?  There are horror writers, romance and epic fantasy authors.  Shouldn’t I do this also?

Pick a genre, double it, add the genre I first thought of?

But I can’t.  I don’t write the stories, they, after a fashion, write me.  I don’t plan, I don’t think ahead, much, I just let them say what they want to.  I suppose it’s something of a worry, then, that my characters range from a PC waiting for the end of the world, the Four Horsemen, a mastodon who’s lost her tooth and an escaped lunatic.

There’s humour, science fiction, horror and children’s worlds revolving around in my head, so if I had to pick a genre, I expect it would be ‘weird’…  I don’t know if that describes me.  Maybe ‘offbeat’?  In Sin, there’s a LOT of me interwoven with the character.  His tangential thoughts, his ideas and ideals, his sense of humour.

Perhaps I shouldn’t admit to that, especially seeing as people die around him!

I like it, though – the not planning.  It means that I’m often surprised by what happens as much as, I’d hope, the reader was.  When Sin is picked up by a farmer and discovers the truth about his (the farmer’s) wife and their baby, I was shocked myself.  After I’d written 15,000 words whilst in Egypt for a week, and could feel the end was near, I didn’t know what that end was.  In fact I was worried that, as I didn’t plan or plot, the end might not come and Sin would be just hanging there, waiting, wondering.

But I didn’t have to worry.  He always has a voice.  So much so that he has his own blog, written from his point of view.  You can’t keep a good man down, or even a bad man trying to be good.

So.  Genres.  I’m asked what genre I write in.  What do I say?  Any?  All?  Am I genreless, wandering around in a wasteland of ideas, trying to find my way to the lost cities of Horror or Humour?  No, I’m on a road trip.  My tank is full, I’ve got a decent supply of drinks, crisps and chocolate bars (nice and healthy, I know) and I’m just stopping off at the towns and villages along the way.  The people therein are quite entertaining and so many have tales to tell.

So I’m simply their voice.

Learn More

Pacific Grim…?

Guillermo Del Toro is a talented writer and amazing director. He is, there’s no two ways about it.  From his earlier outings with Roald Dahl’s The Witches through Mimic, Hellboy and the wonderful Pan’s Labyrinth, he has repeatedly produced films full of originality and brilliance. 

But every bright light has its dark days. 
Now Pacific Rim is one film I’ve been waiting for. There’s a good few blockbusters this year that I’ve looked forward to. Star Trek, Iron Man 3, The Wolverine. I’ve yet to see the latter but loves the first two, as you can see from my reviews on this blog.
Pacific Rim was one more. An immense film with an innovative storyline. Let down, however, by predictability. If you’ve seen this and live it, as 72% of you do according to IMDB, then forgive my personal opinion, but there were so many stereotypes here.
Manly names like Chuck and Hercules. The Russians were straight out of an 80s movie. The scientists were obviously kooky. The egotistical tough guy and his dad. The distant, troubled chief officer. When he gave his big speech, I expected him to tell us “Today is the day we celebrate our independence!”
I won’t deny this was an epic film with impressive, action filled, set pieces. I won’t deny that I even enjoyed it, but I generally do with these films, including the obvious after credits sequence. I turn my brain off and enjoy the ride.
The problem was, this ride was almost pre-cached on Google Maps.
Learn More

Losing a limb…

I had my right arm cut off the other day.


Not literally, though it was, perchance, as painful.  I felt as if I’d lost a limb.  I felt a twist in my gut and a pull in my heart.


No, I hadn’t lost my phone.  I can see why you may have thought that.  My phone, nowadays a portable computer giving me social, net and personal contact across the globe, is almost part of me.  Pretty much surgically attached.  But it’s debatable whether losing my it would be more or less agonising than losing this… my memory stick.


Yes.  I know.  Disastrous.


During the day, at work, my memory stick is plugged into my office PC.  At lunch time I’ll write a bit, when the chance prevails.  I’ll work on the various author interviews that Sin carries out when he hijacks this blog.  My book covers, blurbs, part completed stories and all sorts are stored thereon.


You’d think, of course, I’d backup.  Regularly, considering what’s at stake.  I have Skydrive, Google drive, Dropbox and others.  Lots of Cloud storage at my disposal.  I’ve worked with computers for over 30 years.  I tell others to backup all the time.




Why didn’t I?


Well, I did, but that was a couple of months ago.  That was before I’d worked on interviews.  That was before I’d written more of Mortal Sin, the sequel to Sin.


Do I feel like an idiot?  Yes.  Have I berated myself?  Oh yes.


I unplugged the stick from my PC when I left work, as I always do.  I put it in my pocket, yes, like I always do.  But when I went to it later that night, it was gone.  I’d been in my car, but it wasn’t there – I checked.  I’d taken my girls to the park, but that was a large area so there was little point in looking there.  It wasn’t at home.


It also wasn’t still poking out of my PC the next morning, as I’d hoped.


It was gone, along with everything on it.


Thankfully, Cindy Harper, a fan and friend, was the holder of my salvation – or a part of it, at least.  I’d sent her, up until a week or so ago, what I’d written on Mortal Sin.  She sent it back and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Granted it was only around 10,000 words or so, but it had been written over a couple of years – I’d paused in the story to write Dark Places.  I couldn’t reproduce it, so I was hugely relieved when she emailed me the files.


The rest, I will have to download from my Skydrive when I get a new stick.  Still, there’ll be bits missing.  My blog entries.  A couple of stories I was working on.


I could kick myself.  I should.  I should also heed my own advice.  Maybe I will from now on.  If you could email a file direct to your own Skydrive storage, that’d help.  Maybe you can – or to one of the other Cloud storage places – but I don’t know how.  I should make the time to find out.




Backup, people.  Or risk amputation of the most painful kind!

Oh, hopefully you see the relevance of the image up top. Just a little joke from me.  Also, you can see Sin’s interview with the aforementioned Cindy Harper here: Drop by there as a thanks for saving Sin!

Learn More