Do You Wattpad?

I don’t really need anything else to read. I have almost 450 books on my Goodreads To Be Read List, another 120 or so unread books on my Kindle that aren’t on Goodreads plus a large number of physical books, comics, graphic novels and magazines.

Despite that, I’ve joined Wattpad and started having a look round there as well. Lots of good stuff and I’m already building up a new To Be Read pile to go with all the others.

If you’re not familiar with Wattpad, it’s basically a huge online community where authors can post fiction and readers can…well…read. There’s a lot of fan fiction (particularly One Direction fanfic for some reason) but there’s a lot of other work there, including some big names like Cory DoctorowMargaret Atwood and Hugh Howie. You can read the stories on PC but they also have some excellent mobile apps.

Not to be left out, I’ve started posting my own stories, starting with on old favourite – Cag: An Almost True Story.


I’ll be posting a few more over the coming weeks, including some new pieces. Sorry, none of it is One Direction fan fiction.

If you’re on Wattpad, and you feel like following my updates, I’d be very happy to see you there and I’ll gladly follow back.

And don’t forget, if you want more free fiction, you can join my newsletter.

[Do You Wattpad? by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 24th July 2014]

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Eliza – Peter Murphy

There’s a long tradition of goth bands writing songs that use a one word female name for the title – Laura, Marian, Alice and Christine to name some of my favourites. I doubt Peter Murphy would class his solo work as goth but the audiences at his gigs quite often fit that label.

Either way, his latest album, Lion, includes this track - Eliza - and the sad old goth inside me approves.

[Eliza - Peter Murphy by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 23rd July 2014]

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Metrics Monday – 21st July 2014

The main writing goal for last week was the completion of the first draft of my new science fiction novella, Leah (working title that has already been changed to something I’m not quite ready to reveal).

A big push on Saturday saw me wrapping up pretty much all the edits a day early, leaving just a few loose ends to clean up on Sunday morning. Final word count for the story was 17,564 which just about pushes it into official novella length. Maybe it will get longer during editing, or maybe it will get shorter. Time will tell.

I’m doing something a little bit different with Leah - beta readers. I’ve got three very kind volunteers who are going to read this early draft and give me feedback. This is the first time I’ve done anything like this so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.


Total word count for the week was 4,215 which is very good considering how much of my time was spent revising. That said, I needed to make sure I had another project to roll into as soon as Leah was finished, so I also spent quite a lot of time outlining my next novel – currently known as The Zombie Book.

Leah was completed pretty early on Sunday so I spent the rest of the day tinkering with the website, setting up a new newsletter signup page and a new Facebook page dedicated to my writing that will go live once I’ve managed to work out what to put in the header image.

My word count for the day was pretty feeble though so, rather than watch a movie, I decided to get The Zombie Book kicked off. It was a little bit bumpy at first, and I ended up cutting a couple of hundred words almost immediately, but as I said on Twitter, the new book is underway.

I’ve done a lot more outlining of the book this time, including some very brief character profiles, and I’m hoping that will stop me going straying off the beaten path too much. Both The Ghost Smuggler and Glitch needed some fairly extensive structural fixes. I’m hoping to avoid such dramatic rework this time round.

The Zombie Book is, of course, just a working title. I do have a real name for it picked out but I’m keeping that close to my chest for the time being. Spoilers.

Of course, I should really have been working on the final revisions of the next draft of The Ghost Smuggler but I have an editor lined up to take a look at the first few chapters of this book so I need to get them down on paper in time for me to beat them into some sort of reasonable shape.

[Metrics Monday - 21st July 2014 by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 20th July 2014]

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Living the Dream

I’ve just wrapped up my second week in a new role at my day job. I haven’t changed company but I’ve moved to a different part of the business and my day to day work is very different. The reason for the switch is very simple – it was time for a change.

For the last six years, I’ve been a senior technical manager in a business unit building multiple videogame titles – some of them established franchises, some of them ‘New IP’ (basically games that we haven’t made before). My time was generally split between making sure the games shipped, working on the technical strategy for the group and mentoring1 the various technical leaders in the group.

It was a cool role and I enjoyed it but after six years I was looking for a different challenge. I didn’t want to leave the company, it’s a good place to work and I like the people, but I also didn’t want to just keep doing the same thing over and over. So, what to do?

In the end, I sat down with my manager and laid out my ‘ideal’ role – what I’d do if the company just left me to my own devices. That turned out to be a very smart move.

My ideal role was quite different to what I was doing at the time and had I not spoken up, no one would have known what I was looking for. A few weeks later, a new team were looking for someone to fill a role similar to the one I’d described and if my manager hadn’t known I might be interested, they’d never have considered me.

But they did. They were looking for someone with my skillset and knew me and equally important, the new position was something I’d be passionate about and I’ve enjoyed working with the leadership team in the past. A couple of weeks later, I was slated to move into a cool new role and as of Monday I’ve been doing what is basically my dream job, doing the sort of work that got me into the games industry in the first place.

At the moment, it’s a lot like starting a new story. The possibilities for the game stretch out in front of us like an endless sea of jewel encrusted treasure chests filled with magical wonders. There’s an infinite number of directions we can go and an infinite number of ways things might play out. In my head the game is a masterpiece – a perfect blend of the familiar and the new with a splash of the secret sauce that turns a game from ho-hum to oh-wow.

That will change soon enough, of course. We’re already picking which treasure chests to open and which to ignore – cutting out options, focusing and paring down the endless stream of ideas into what we hope will be a coherent, enjoyable experience. Soon, the honeymoon will end and we’ll move into the ditch digging and brick laying that make up 99% of the work of building a videogame and, eventually, I’ll be desperate to get the damn thing finished so that I can do something less painful – like rip my own eyes out. But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the freedom and excitement while it lasts.

If that wasn’t enough, I’m writing more and better than I ever have before and having a whale of a time doing it. I have a bunch of projects I can’t wait to talk about and so many ideas for new stories they keep me awake at night. Oh, and yesterday I set a new personal best for a 10km race (47:41, thank you for asking).

There’s a saying in the group of people I work with – “Living the dream.” It’s invariably used by someone when they are not “living the dream” but are instead caught in the sort of soul crushing Dilbertian hell trap that anyone who works for a living faces at some point or other. But the next time someone asks me how it’s going, I will actually be able to answer “Living the dream” without a trace of irony.

Maybe it’s time you had a chat with your manager too?


[Living the Dream by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 20th July 2014]

  1. Interesting aside, the WordPress spell checker suggests tormenting instead of mentoring.
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Out Now – Artificial Wife

I’m very pleased to announce I have a new story out. This one’s another science fiction flash piece called Artificial Wife and you can read it for free on the Story Shack Magazine website.

Unbelievably, this is my twentieth publication so I’m especially happy that it also has a cool illustration by Michael Ilkiw.

As usual, I won’t spoil the plot but here’s the opening.

Most of the time I can almost believe she’s real.

She’s not, she’s a Mark IV Remote Surrogate – a “mote”. My real wife, Annabel, is back on Earth but the mote’s a perfect copy, identical in every way; despite the fact that my wife encouraged me to mix things up a bit and “enhance” a couple of key attributes.

If you do read it (it’s not long so it’s not a big investment), drop me a comment either here or on Story Shack to let me know what you thought.

[Out Now - Artificial Wife by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 17th July 2014]

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