Why I am not a BT customer

If you follow this blog for writing-related stuff you don’t need to read this. If you are a BT shareholder you might want to look away now.

I have been aware for some time that my home broadband connection is less than optimal. It won’t support Skype or Netflix and Youtube videos stop to buffer every 7 seconds or so. Various ‘test your speed’ sites have measured it at just over 2mbps. We are not in a cabled area; my current ISP can’t offer anything better and is, in fact, passing my account over to another provider to concentrate on their superfast cable broadband.

BT stuck a flyer through my front door advertising their ‘fibre to the cabinet’ service so I decided it was time to do something about it. I phoned the number on the flyer and was put through to a guy with a very strong Scots accent. I know plenty of Scots, and I don’t usually have trouble understanding them (except maybe Hal Duncan after a couple of pints) but I couldn’t follow this guy. It took maybe 40 mins to go through the order and I put the phone down afterwards feeling drained.

Then nothing happened. No confirmation of the order by e-mail or letter. I phoned again to chase the order and was told ‘we have no record of the order’. I went online through my¬†employer’s corporate discounts portal and set up the order again, including booking an engineer site visit. I received a confirmation of the order with an order reference code and was told I should receive further information within 5 days.

Then nothing happened for 6 days. I phoned to chase the order. This time they could find it on the system. It had not proceeded. After some discussion they found that I had omitted to check one box. No, they could not just check the box and proceed, the order had to be cancelled and started again.

I phoned another supplier. Their engineer is coming in a couple of weeks.

The lost art of short stories

I sold a short story last week.

Actually if I’m being entirely accurate, I placed a reprint last week as sold implies I’m getting paid and I’m not, nor is it a new story. I also received a really good rejection from Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine for a story I’d sent them encouraging me to send them more.

This makes me feel a little sad because I don’t write short stories any more, not good ones at least. I used too. I’ve sold around 25 or so stories, some several times over and have only a handful unsold. The one F&SF rejected is, in my opinion, my best story – sold or unsold. I wrote it in 2007. Since then I’ve had perhaps one half-decent idea for a short story; I’m not happy with how that one turned out so there’s nothing to send F&SF..

So what has changed? I just don’t seem to have the ideas I used to for short works. They’re all novel length ideas these days, and I just don’t write quickly enough to contemplate developing an idea unless it feels really strong. I’d like to write some more short pieces; something that is complete in a matter of weeks rather than years, but without the ideas I’m stuck writing novels. Speaking of which the sequel to adventure fantasy novel is at 63k.

Oh, and what a good win for Southampton at Old Trafford! I watched the match on TV with a group of Man Utd supporters – very satisfying.