Month: February 2018

The month that was; February 2018.

Alright?

I’ve been a bit more blog-active this month, haven’t I? Only just, though.

Writing

I have a lot going on right now. I managed to write a short story last week, ‘Second Amendment,’ which you can read here. I’ll talk more about it below.

Almost Surely (Proofing and Editing)

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but my next release is entitled ‘Almost Surely’ and my target for publication is November 2018. The exact date; I am yet to decide or figure out, but I’ll announce it soon, I’m sure.

The cover is done. I drew and designed it, like I did with The Surrogate. It’s different. I like it a lot, and it reflects the setting and feels of the novel perfectly. After a month (or so) of faffing about with alternate design ideas, I figured out how to do what I wanted. The result is that it’s almost exactly what I always intended it to be.

The rear cover is 90% done. The only thing left to finish here is the synopsis, which is much harder than you’d expect. This is what’s difficult about weird fiction, how do you explain it to people?

I’m elbow-deep* into my edit process right now. 102/380 pages complete, as of writing this. I’m anticipating that the second half of the book will need less work than the first half, but who knows, right?

I’m aiming to finish this ‘overhaul edit’ by the end of March. The purpose here is to clean up the language, prose, grammar, names, places, facts, etc. It’s very labour intensive, hence why I am taking my time with it. After this is complete, I’ll format it for Kindle (which’ll take a day or so) and then I’ll send it over to my devices so that I can read it through and make notes on how to improve it further.

This ‘Kindle edit’ is different than the ‘overhaul edit.’ I don’t know how other writers work, but for me; reading a Word/Libre Office document on my laptop is very different to reading something on a Kindle. The Kindle document feels more professional. This is where I do my best proofreading. I assume it’s because I’m tuned to expect a better quality experience here, than I would in a .doc or email, therefore; it makes noticing mistakes easier. I’ll make notes as I read, and then I’ll make any changes to the PC documents once done.

I’ll then repeat the process once or twice further.

Then; once I’m happy with the manuscript (which I hope will be the beginning of June, or thereabouts) I’ll upload it to the printers, and get a few proofs made. These are physical copies of the book, which are incredibly close to, if not fully reader-ready. I’ll give these to a few people so that they can read it, and give feedback. Fresh eyes always pick up on bits I invariably overlook. For example; my Mum found a spelling mistake in The Surrogate, one I did not see during my proofing phase. It’s present in the early printed copies (and is kinda funny, too) but Kindle readers never saw it, because I made the edits before it was released. That’s just the nature of writing though, isn’t it? I’m sure you’ve read a book or two which had a spelling mistake here and there. To only have one? Damn, son, that’s not bad. It’s disappointing, but I can live with it.

Once I’ve received feedback on these proof copies; I’ll make further changes, (This’ll be September, hopefully) and get a second batch of proofs printed if needs be, and finalise the novel, ready for publication in November.

Like I said, this is very labour-intensive. But I’m too skint to afford an editor, what can you do?

I actually kinda enjoy this, though. *shrugs*

Tangent

*Censorship… t’sh, hmph… Here’s a song, which I interpret as comparing the act of ‘fisting’ to progression, or ‘pushing boundaries.’ Desensitising yourself to horrible things simply by exposing yourself to them. Hence why I refer to progress as being ‘knuckle-deep,’ or ‘finger-deep,’ or ‘elbow-deep.’ It’s reference to this:

At a Tool show, back in 2006, I heard a woman say ‘Stinkfist is my song,’ when she was asked what her favourite track of the show was. It still brings a smile to my face, to think of it. She probably didn’t know the connotations. ha ha.

Future Writing Projects

‘Almost Surely’ editing aside, I’m planning a few new projects.

The first project is a novel, set sometime in the late 1980’s (I haven’t pinpointed the exact timeframe I want to go with just yet), but I know it’ll take place in the United States, around Texas, New Mexico, and Nevada. I’ve had the basic premise for a good year or two, but I felt that there was something missing whenever I tried fleshing out the story. I know what it was now, but it means that I have to do some further research before I can commit ideas to paper.

The other project, which I’ll probably write next, is ‘Grindhouse’ in style. By that, I mean; rude, disgusting, funny, but full of heart. Think Machete / Hobo with a Shotgun, in both style and production, but with heavy leanings towards the ‘dark comedy’ of a BBC show like The League of Gentlemen. I have a few scene ideas kicking about in my head, and I’m considering doing something very different with the ending, but; we’ll see how things pan out.

The third project will be an overhaul of a novel I wrote in 2014/2015. I’ll likely do this while researching for the project above. In reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, (and remembering what I loved about 1Q84) I figured out what was missing. Madness. In editing, and re-editing the novel a few years back; I removed any and all sense of madness from it, just to make it more palatable and accessible. This was a mistake. My logic was; ‘that’ll make more sense if I take this out, or delete this scene,’ and to an extent; yes it did. But I’ve had a nagging feeling about a story arch within the book ever since. My task, later in the year, will be to reintroduce the madness and expand on everything I have since restricted. This leads me directly into this:

Future Releases

I know my schedule for the next three years. Next up is ‘Amost Surely,’ sometime in November, this year.

1, Untitled Novella; April/May 2019. This is going to be a very experimental release for me. It is written, it has a title, and the cover is done, too. I’m editing it (whenever I am not editing AS) currently. I’m presenting it in the same way that movie theatres would present a double-feature, back in the day, only; I’m doing a ‘triple-feature.’ There are three stories; one short length, (Sci-Fi) one medium length, (Horror!) and one novella-length. The latter, which’ll serve as ‘The Feature Presentation’ and title of the book, and is a dark comedy. It’s disgusting and very brutal in places, but (I like to think) funny throughout. It’s completely unlike The Surrogate or Almost Surely, but I like it. There’s a moral to it, but it sits behind the action and isn’t really present until the last line of the book. I’ll admit; I’m excited for people to read it, but I know that it’ll be divisive.

2, Untitled Novel. This’ll be more in line with ‘The Surrogate’ and ‘Almost Surely’ in terms of style and message delivery. I’ve written it already, and it’s in a far better state than Almost Surely was, when I began the overhaul last month. It’s set in the Summer of 1989 and is very personal to me. This, I’ll likely release in Spring 2019 or 2020. I’m undecided, right now. I am, however, going to edit it in June this year, whilst people are proofing Almost Surely. I’ve begun work on the cover already. It does not have a title, though. It previously had two working titles; ‘Never Change,’ and ‘…Never Say Die,’ but the final product will be named differently. I simply don’t know what it’ll be, right now.

Reading

I’m still reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I’m enjoying the book immensely, don’t get me wrong, but honestly; I’m finding it difficult to set time aside. I’m so focused on my editing that I do not have the cognitive capacity to juggle the two. I began reading Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ in December, but I haven’t touched it since, either. Same thing.

I have read a couple of graphic novels, though; Sex Criminals vol. 1 and vol. 2. They’re hilarious and original. Akira Vol. 1, which was pretty good. I have Vol. 2 sitting on my desk, staring at me, but it’s the same as the books I listed above; I can’t juggle it with my writing commitments.

I did begin (for the fifth time) listening to the audiobook of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand.’ I’ve seen the TV movie multiple times, and have fond memories of mocking the M-O-O-N guy (I can’t remember his name) with friends, at school. It was a good, if somewhat dated movie, and I know the story. I managed 14 hours, or thereabouts. I don’t know whether it’s the narrator or the relentlessness of the writing that put me off, but I couldn’t continue. I hated it. So much so that I donated the book (and a couple of other King books that I have no intention of reading) to the library at work. Let some other poor sod slog through it, eh?

Movies/TV

This month, we have been mostly watching Lucifer Season Three and The Orville. I’m enjoying them both.

The Orville reminds me of the old-school Star Trek, but with more humour. The stories are good too. In the second or third episode; one of the crew members’ partners lays an egg. They are a single-sex race (male) but the child is born a female. It turns out that females are born, but are given a sex change early on, in their culture, the ideology suggesting that males are the more dominant gender. Legal battle ensues. It was a fascinating allegory. It’s written by Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. I’m not much of a fan of Family Guy anymore, but this show surprised me. If you get the chance; please check it out. It’s intelligent and deserves an audience.

I haven’t seen Black Panther yet. There’s a good reason for this, but I won’t go into it right now.

The Winter Olympics

That shit was fun, right? I loved the Slopestyle events particularly. Red Gerard was a beast.  I ‘called’ his Gold medal in the heats, simply because he was hitting obstacles that none of the other riders were attempting.

There were a few anti-doping violations, too, which I always find fascinating.

There was a big kerfuffle over the Russian Olympics team being banned from the Summer games in 2016, which many do not understand the intricacies of. If you get the time, watch ‘Icarus,’ it’s a documentary about a guy (Bryan Fogle) who attempts to cheat the system in cycling, but ‘cycling’ on an off performance enhancers, with the aid of a Russian man named Grigory Rodchenkov, who just so happens to be the former director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory. Then; the Olympic scandal occurs and shit really kicks off.

This documentary is Oscar-nominated, and is mind-fuckingly incredible.

Spotify Playlist

These are the songs that got me through the month. As you can tell, I was enjoying funk and 70’s-era R’n’B, this month.

1, Jill Scott – Bedda at home

2, Kid Cudi – Heart of a Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Music)

3, The Weeknd, Kenrick Lemar – Pray For Me

4, Childish Gambino – Zombies

5, Madvillain – Figaro

6, Vince Staples – BagBak

7, Shuggie Otis – Ice Cold Daydream

8, Gil Scott-Heron – I’ll Take Care of You

9, Donald Byrd – Love’s So Far Away

10, Bootsy Collins ft Kali Uchis – Work My While

11, Parliament – Placebo Syndrome

12, Donald Byrd – (Fallin’ Like) Dominoes

13, Snoh Alegra – In Your River

14, Michael Jackson – Give In To Me

15, Supertramp – Crime of the Century

16, Buck 65 – Riverbed Part 2

17, DJ Shadow – Stem (Cops’n’Robbers)

18, Ed Sheeran – Eraser

19, Save Ferris – Goodbye

Second Amendment

The story is based on a thought that has been bugging me for years: The Second Amendment insists that American citizens have the right to bear arms (i.e. own a gun) so that they can stand up and defend themselves against an oppressive government. The amendment/idea (in theory) is a good one, but it’s only (really) used as a means to keep guns. What would happen if the populous actually stood up for themselves? Would the US government make changes to this amendment, so they could not do it again? That would get guns out of hands, quickly.

Long post, sorry about that.

I’m not actually sorry.

Take care of yourselves, the rest can do it for themselves.

Much love x

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[Flash Fiction] Second Amendment

​”We’re children. They are killing us! What will it take to stop the sale of Assault Rifles and guns? You’re the adults, do something!” he said, through floods of tears.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” he smiled. “This is the second amendment, and it is what our country is built upon. The maniac who killed your friends was a psychopathic, rock-loving loner. Clinically deranged. This is why we need to have armed teachers in our schools, to save our children from these outcasts. We don’t need to get rid of guns; we need more of them!” He turned to the crowd, lifted his rifle to the air and shouted; “As the great Charlton Heston once said; you can take my rifle when you prise it from my cold, dead hands!”

“He is dead now,” the teenager whispered.

The man turned to look at him, hesitated, smiled, and then pumped the rifle high into the air once more for the crowd. There was a cacophony of cheers, jeers and boos. The people had, quite clearly, mixed feelings about this man, and the event that had transpired only 24 hours prior. The teenager nodded at this, sniffed, wiped his eyes, and then left the stage without so much as an utterance.

********I********

“Welcome to The White House,” she announced as the class of children approached. “This is where democracy is created!”

“Is the president inside the oval office right now?” a young, sweet girl asked. “I would love to meet him!”

“I’m sure that he is in the building, yes,” she smiled.

“Well…” she guffawed, knowing full-well that the president would do anything if it resulted in a positive news article, “he is busy, but I’m sure I could convince him to meet with you.” She stood upright and peered across the sea of young faces. “This is great; I’m so pleased that you are here, y’know…” she turned and opened the door, “you’re the future of this great nation. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a congressman, or…” she thought of the young girl, “congresswoman. Maybe even a future president. Who knows? The president is so pleased that he could reinstate tours of the White House. It is my privilege to be guiding you, today. If you could follow me through here, please…”

She pushed the doors open and stepped through.

“Second Amendment?” One teenager whispered to the other.

“As you will see; The President has absolute faith in the youth of the country…”

“Second Amendment!” the second teenager confirmed.

They nodded at one another, then turned to the friend closest to them and repeated the statement in hush tones.

The guide turned to look at the crowd as they funnelled through the double doors. “No armed guards, as you can see. It was a real tragedy what happened at your school all those months ago; our heart goes out to you and your friends and friend’s families. Personally, I’d rather we did away with the guns enitrely, but what can I do?” she laughed. “What can one person do?”

“Murder a bunch of innocent children?” a voice whispered.

“And here we are, the Oval Office!” The guide announced.

The door opened gently, and silently, and the pouty-lipped leader appeared. “I wanted to be here,” he said sharply. “Come in, come in! Look at my desk; it is big; it is so, very big, it’s the biggest desk any president has ever had! I had them change the last one because it wasn’t big enough. Now it is, and they did it because I told them to, but because they love me. Don’t you see? They love me. Everyone loves me. I am the greatest president this country, or any country had ever seen.. If they say that I’m not, it’s a lie. They know the truth. They’re spreading fake news. That’s how important I am. Look at my desk. Look how shiny it is…”

[…you can take my rifle…]

Movement and sound.

[…when you prise it…]

Guns cocking… pointing….

[…from my cold, dead hands…]

**********I**********

The teenager woke, yawned and rubbed the sleep dust from his eyes. He sat up in his bed, peered at the picket sign that was resting against the desk on the other side of the room, and smiled. “No, I prefer this way.”

Exploring ‘The Surrogate’ Pt 1.

“Were you on drugs when you thought of this?”

A friend said this to me when I showed him the synopsis for The Surrogate.

Since its release, I’ve had many conversations regarding the themes I (broadly) covered in the story. It’s genuinely fascinating to see how people have interpreted it. But while engaging in, or watching these conversations play out online, it got me thinking about where the ideas came from, and whether I could retrace my steps back to the source.

The short answer is yes. Yes, I can. I know exactly where the story came from.

I am going to explore the subjects here, over a few articles, so that you can have an insight into how my mind works. Plus; it’ll be interesting to review all of this in years to come, just for the sake of nostalgia.

Anyway, if you have not read my book, and you do not want to have the story, or its many themes and story elements spoiled; Stop reading this article, NOW!

For everyone else; take my hand. Here we go:

1, Sowing seeds

2014, I was writing my first novel (still unpublished as of January 2018), and newly single (since rekindled) depressed with myself, my physique and how life was going.

I was subscribed to the VICE YouTube channel. It was late one night, and I was stumbling down a YouTube rabbit hole when this video played: (It’s NSFW, but worth a watch, whenever you get a chance.)

There’s a lot to unpack here, but a couple of things stood out to me:

There’s an industry where people pay for physical contact, which does not involve sex?

Word? I studied sports psychology and sociology at A-Level at school, and as a result; have always been interested in human behaviour. I was unaware of this industry at the time, but because I was single, and (I remember this vividly, now) because I too felt the desire to be held by another because I missed it so immensely, I instantly understood the appeal.

What has happened to intimacy?

I was trying my hand at internet dating at the time, and failing miserably.* But having retired from security work (I was a door supervisor for 5+ years) I understood that my chances in the dating realm were to be severely hampered because of internet dating, and the limitations it presented. Internet dating (which seemed to be, and still is, the way of the future) is cold and standoffish. It wasn’t for me because I knew that I communicated better in face to face scenarios. But if people were unwilling to meet, or engage in conversation online with me, based on my appearance, or how un-photogenic I was, how could I possibly be successful in dating?

*I have a story related to this, that I’ll share at a later date because it’s fascinating to see just how lopsided and geared towards women, that internet dating actually is. Whether, or not, you want to believe it.

The future.

Watching the video above, I acknowledged how people in Japan (the most technically minded country in the world) were unwilling to meet with potential mates, or engage in relationships, and it scared me. Was this the way that we, as a species, were headed? The cold method of ‘swiping’ to say ‘no,’ judging a person and their potential, quickly, based solely on their looks, was already here. And, unless people decided to buck the trend and resort back to going to clubs and meet and greets to meet people; I felt that we had a problem.

2, What could I do about it?

In short; very little, but: And I don’t want to harp on this next part too much because it feels as though I am clambering for your sympathies, which is not the case. I’m just presenting you with the facts that I was working with.

I was going through a transformative phase in my life. I was struggling with self-confidence issues, relating to feelings of unattractiveness, due to my physique. But I was also a single father, trying to ensure that my daughter grew up to be a strong, independent woman, while trying to shield her from the bullshit in the media, which suggested that a person’s worth was directly proportional to their beauty. Hypocritical, much?

I was learning quickly that looks meant less to me, in the grand scheme of things, than I originally believed. I was learning, also, that what I found attractive in a potential partner was not (necessarily) their appearance, but their level of confidence. And because I had learnt this about myself; I quickly understood what my problem was: I was too conscious about my physique.

And because I lacked the self-confidence that I found attractive in other people, how would other people find me attractive?

Now, this is the logical exit point for this article, especially as the first seed for the story was present, and planted. I knew at this point that I wanted to write a story that revolved around cuddle-bars, and intimacy, to some extent, but that was all I had.

In the next article, I am going to talk about all of the things I did to rectify my lack of confidence, and how it applies to the book. Spoiler: it’ll probably revolve around the topic of Body Positivity

So come back, soon, yeah?

Much love

x

The month that was; January 2018

I don’t have a great deal to share with regards to my writing, I’m afraid. January was a very ‘up and down’ month, and I got hardly anything done. I finished a novella in the first week, which sounds incredible, but I should’ve finished it last year, like I originally intended. It feels like a ‘gimme’ to me, and I do not count it. I have been doing proofing and editing since this, and I haven’t written anything new.

Personally; it feels as though I have wasted the month. But objectively; I know that I haven’t wasted it. Not really. I’ve developed a few ideas for future stories, one of which will become a children’s book. And it was so obvious, that I am annoyed with myself that I didn’t think of it sooner.

Reviews and opinions on The Surrogate

There have been a couple of beautiful write-ups on ‘The Surrogate,’ this month.

The first, click: here, it features a Q+A with me, too, which was a lot of fun.

The second is from my friend C.R. Dudley, on her blog ‘Orchids Lantern’  (<- click that)

She has a short story collection entitled; Fragments of Perception, which I had the privilege of beta-reading last year. It’s wonderful, and you should check it out. For more information, click here

Music

Before I wrote books, I played bass. I do not have the time or the inclination to play much anymore, but I’m almost always listening to music. Every month; I create a playlist of the songs that (for whatever reason) meant something to me, that month. It’s usually quite varied, and some of the stuff is obscure, but I like to think of those lists as reminders of where I was psychologically, when I made them. It’s fun to reminisce.

My January playlist, and a breakdown of why, for most of the songs:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/gavinjefferson/playlist/5O9qmxIuhxpE1GFKR2onBH

For those without Spotify:

1, The Beatnuts – Watch out Now (Jennifer Lopez sampled this)

2, The Hold Steady – Killer Parties

3, A Perfect Circle – Disillusioned (New APC is always good!)

4, Joe Sample – In All My Wildest Dreams (I found this, because it was used for 2pac’s ‘Dear Mama,’ and because I like to dig into where samples came from.)

5, Dru Hill – How Deep Is Your Love

6, Newton Faulkner – I Need Something

7, Foo Fighters – Generator (I hadn’t heard this in years! Such a great track.)

8, David Axelrod – The Human Abstract (Same as the Joe Sample song above. DJ Shadow used this song extensively on ‘Midnight In A Perfect World’ on his Endtroducing album.)

9, Thundercat – Lone Wolf and Cub (I had watched all six Lone Cub movies in January, and wanted to know if the soundtrack was on Spotify. It wasn’t, but that’s how I stumbled onto this track. I knew Thundercat previously, and his bass-guitar shenanigans, but this was awesome.)

10, Kool And The Gang – Summer Madness (If you’ve heard ‘Summertime’ by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, you’ll know this.)

11, King Krule – A Lizard State (Just a badass tune I stumbled upon on Spotify.)

12, Madvillain – Supervillain Theme (MF DOOM and Madlib)

13, Meyhem Lauren/DJ Muggs – Tension (Meyhem features on the Vice Action Bronson shows, and he’s a dude. Love him. This track reminded me of Cypress Hill’s ‘IV,’ which is my favourite of their albums. Makes sense though, because DJ Mugg’s is The Hill’s DJ. Also; it features a killer verse by B-Real and Action Bronson, too. It reminded me of why I loved Cypress Hill back in the day.)

14, Cypress Hill – Prelude To A Come Up (Do some digging into where the piano sample came from for this track. Trust me.)

15, Isaac Hayes – Ike’s Mood I – Edit. (Jesus Christ, just listen to this. Blaxploitation movie-soundtrack goodness. )

16, David Axelrod – Urizen (Another Axelrod track? His work is strewn across hip-hop history in the form of samples. This? I recognized it from a Jurassic 5 track, which is next:)

17, Jurassic 5 – A Day At The Races, Feat Big daddy Kane. (Listen to Chali 2Na’s baritone delivery. I love it.)

18, Magic Sword – In The Face Of Evil (Have you seen the Thor Ragnarok Trailer? This is THAT song. You’re welcome.)

19, Turbo Knight – Mirrorverse (This felt like a cross between Vangelis’ Blade Runner, and M83’s Oblivion scores. I’m deep into Synthwave at the moment, so this pressed all of my buttons, at the same time.)

20, Timecop1983 – Lovers (feat Seawaves)

Books

It has been a slow month for reading. Over the past few years; I’ve set myself a goal to read x-number of books throughout the year. And expand my tastes by reading stuff I usually wouldn’t. It’s a cool concept, but I didn’t enjoy reading last year, as a result.

This year; I’m reading only the stuff I desperately want to.

In January, I read a lot of comics and a few graphic novels.

20 Shade The Changing Man comics (#51-70) finishing the series. It was a hard read at times, because it’s brutal and regularly confusing. Shade (the character) wears a ‘Madness Vest,’ which allows him to control ‘Madness.’ It’s as mental as it sounds. But; killing babies so that Angels might live, time-travel and… I can’t even remember the rest. It’s really bonkers.

Planet Hulk, and World War Hulk, because they influenced Thor Ragnarok. I enjoyed them.

Attack on Titan, Vol 1: Grim. But incredibly readable.

I’m currently working my way through the following (actual) books:

Isaac Asimov – Foundation (I-III)

Haruki Murakami – The Wind Up Bird Chronicle (I will talk more about Murakami in a later blog, I promise.)

In summary: That’s it for today.  I promised myself that I’d write one blog post a week, all throughout this year. *shrugs* I haven’t, have I?

Have a lovely weekend, and look after one another.

Much love

x

The Surrogate – Gavin Jefferson

Thank-you, C.R!

Orchid's Lantern

C.R. Dudley author Orchid's Lantern blog

The Surrogate is a science fiction novella and debut release from author Gavin Jefferson. The setting is a world in which obesity has been eradicated, leaving behind a ‘healthy, beautiful, and promiscuous’ populous. All, that is, except for one man: a man named Ronald Calico, a.k.a. The Surrogate.

This book grabs the reader from the intriguing first scene where we meet an old man (with a much younger public face) boarding a cruiser with his robotic assistant. It is through his eyes that we are shown the way society has developed, and through his conversation that we learn who The Surrogate is and how his unusual career came about.

This is a straight forward read, and a quick one at just 100 or so pages. What amazes me is that in so little space, and without being immediately obvious, Jefferson skilfully poses important questions about the way we interact and…

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