Tag: Short Stories

Gavin Jefferson’s ‘Lit’ Grindhouse, Volume One – LOVEGUN

‘a dark comedy from a nobody writer’

cover

After waking from a vasectomy, Mark – a middle-aged loner – learns that due to a bizarre surgical augmentation, his penis now fires bullets.

Blackmailed by his surgeon, he must travel the country and use his tool to assassinate a list of hand-picked targets.

Mark’s a hitman now, but can he ‘pull the trigger?’

Available on kindle and Paperback on Tuesday 28th May 2019. Details and pre-order links to follow.

Artwork by Twisted Abnormality.
Follow him on Instagram, because he’s an incredible artist:
https://www.instagram.com/twistedabnormality/

More about the book:

After writing five serious pieces of work, two of which are available now (The Surrogate, and Almost Surely), I decided to write something fun and ridiculous.
This novella is self-deprecating, shocking, and funny, and not for the faint of heart.

I had a great deal of fun writing this, and I hope that you’ll enjoy reading it.

Follow me on Twitter at:

https://twitter.com/DoctorUlysses
https://twitter.com/LGrindhouse

 

Reading Materials #2, Mind in the Gap, by C.R. Dudley

Synopsis:

“The body likes continuity. It’s part of the deal. But the truth is, there are gaps everywhere. Gaps only the mind can slip through…”

Follow M – a strange and chaotic being who professes to be the outcast of a black hole – on a journey like no other. Flowing freely through the back streets of hidden realms, she drives her companion to meet commuters who cross dimensions, embody future technology, and peek behind the scenes at consciousness: all with one purpose in mind.

Inventive, zany and often surreal, C.R. Dudley’s style melds the metaphysical with the technological to create dazzling architectures of thought. Mind in the Gap is an extraordinary book of diversions, circular routes and infinite possibilities. A collection of 14 unique stories and 14 alternate realities – with more to connect them than meets the eye.

Opinion:

I had the privilege of beta-reading Mind in the Gap, prior to release, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. It is a non-linear, interconnected short story collection, with a beautiful narrative centred on the concept of travel, both physically and mentally.

The science fiction is strong throughout, and some of the ideas blew me away. There’s a reality-eclipse in ‘Baily’s Beads,’ for example. What? It’s not just the sci-fi which C.R excels at in this novel, but her use of Jungian theory, too. It helps if you have an understanding of Carl Jung’s work, for sure, but the stories are incredibly accessible. Some are heart-warming, some are terrifying; one felt as if I were reading a long-lost Hayao Miyazaki story.

C.R. is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors, and I cannot wait for her next release. If you enjoy contemporary science fiction and metaphysics, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you did not pick it up.

 

Collector

I

There was a knock at the door, and a feminine, but somewhat husky voice answered, “come in.”

A slender, elderly man opened the door and peered his head around the gap, “Uh, hello?”

“Mr. Farthing?”

“Yes,” Bob crossed the threshold and into the room slowly. He produced a letter from the inside pocket of his jacket and said, “I woke this morning to find this letter on my bed stand.” He fluttered it with his hand theatrically before continuing, “why have you called on me?”

“Please,” the pale-skinned woman behind the desk said. She was wearing a knee-length black dress with dark tights and black gloves and accessorised with a small black clip in her dark hair. She offered her hand towards the chair situated in front of her desk, “come, sit down. Could I offer you a drink?”

Bob stepped towards the chair, placed the envelope on to the desk and sat down. “I’m dying for a cuppa,” he said. “I made my way here as quickly as I could, I didn’t think that I would have time to make myself any breakfast.”

“I apologise,” the lady said. “Please excuse the sense of urgency portrayed in the letter, it is merely an administrative oversight. My name is Edith.” She pulled her chair closer to the desk, “you take two sugars, correct?”

“That’s right, thank you.”

Edith pressed a finger onto a button on the intercom to her right “A cup of tea pleasem, milk, two sugars. A black coffee and…” she turned her attention to Bob and asked casually, “ginger nut biscuits?” he nodded with a smile, “a plate of ginger nut biscuits also, please.”

The door opened a few seconds later. A young woman, dressed similarly to Edith entered with a tray rested on her right shoulder. She placed Bob’s drink down on the desk in front of him efficiently. She did the same for Edith also, and then set the plate of biscuits in the area between them.

“Thank you,” Edith said.

The young woman bowed gracefully and exited the room without saying a word.

“Robert, should I call you Robert? Or do you prefer anything else?”

“Bob, please,” he said. “Why am I here? The letter was not very clear.”

She smiled, “it is time.”

A look of realisation appeared on Bob’s face. “Oh” he said, plainly. He sat forward in his chair and picked a biscuit from the tray. He dunked it into his cup of tea and then devoured it in two quick bites.

She smiled at him, her gloved fingers intertwined under and supporting her chin. “Do you remember our agreement?” she asked.

“The one we made on the day that you came for me? Of course,” he smiled. “I’ve woken up every morning hoping that it would be the day, but at the same time; hoping for her sake that it wouldn’t.”

“That’s sweet and completely understandable,” she took a sip of her coffee. “Do you think you are up for the task? Are you ready to assist me?”

“I think so,” he sighed. “Will it be painful? I don’t think I could handle it if it were.”

“You have my promise, she won’t feel a thing. In fact, it will feel like a dream.”

“Good, how long do we… I mean, how long does she have?”

“A couple of hours,” Edith sat back in her chair, using the arms to settle herself comfortably. “You have time to return home; shower, dress and have a nice meal.”

“Do I need to bring anything with me?”

Edith smiled and shook her head gently, blinking her eyes as she did so. “All I need is you.”

He nodded his head.

II

“I want to wear my blue suit,” Bob said as he opened the door to his house. “She always liked me in that,” he turned to look at Edith, “it was the last thing she saw me in. I think she would like it… Do you think she would like to see me wearing it?”

“I cannot possibly say. It was lovely, from my recollection of it at least.” She closed the door behind her.

“You remember?”  Bob exclaimed, shocked.

Edith smiled, “of course I remember.”

“You know,” he said, leaning against the door frame of the front room, “I was dreading this day. I remember when I left her; it hurt. It hurt to see her like that. I was worried that we would take her kicking and screaming, but you are so calm, it’s putting me at ease, it really is, so thank you.”

“Thank you for agreeing to assist me.” Edith placed her hand on his shoulder and squeezed it gently, she glanced around the room. “It’s a lovely place you have here, similar to that of your old home?”

“Exactly the same, down to the tiniest detail,” Bob glanced through to the bathroom. “No matter what I try, the shower produces no pressure, it’s like getting washed under a broken garden hose, I have to run around underneath it just to get wet,” he laughed. “Which is fine, because I cannot remember the last time I felt this fit and healthy.”

She smiled at the elderly man, “you get yourself ready. Would you like a bacon sandwich before we leave?”

“I could murder one,” Bob said, his bottom lip juddering a little as if to illustrate resentment of what he had just stated, “in the nicest possible sense, of course.”

Edith laughed and touched his shoulder gently, she nodded towards the bathroom and said, “go on, I can handle this.”

“Thank you,” Bob turned to walk through to the bedroom but stopped and began again, “do you know how…”

“I’m sure I can figure it out, you just worry about getting yourself ready.”

“Thank you,” he tapped his finger on the wall a couple of times as if contemplating his next request.

She popped her head back through the door threshold, “extra crispy, lots of butter on the bread, ketchup and brown sauce, Bob, I already know,” she winked. “Go, get ready.”

“Thank you.”

She returned her attention to the front room, and Bob went to the bedroom to get ready.

III

She took a couple of moments to browse the photos on the wall, the books on his bookshelf, and the vinyl records situated next to the stereo system.

In the distance, she heard the sound of running water. She glanced up towards the ceiling and acknowledged that he had started the shower. She estimated that he would take roughly fifteen minutes to wash, dry and dress, so she made her way to the kitchen to make a start on his sandwich.

By the time that she had cooked the bacon and placed the rashers onto the freshly buttered bread, she heard the tell-tale knock as the water pressure adjusted itself, indicating to Edith that Bob had finished in the shower.

She filled the kettle and set it to boil. She squirted ketchup and brown sauce on to the bacon, placed the second slice of bread on top of the meat and then cut the sandwich into two triangles. The kettle boiled. She prepared a cup of tea for Bob. She picked it up with her left hand and then picked up the plate containing the sandwich with her right. She walked them to the table in the next room and rested them down in front of Bob’s chair.

A sulphur-crested cockatoo was perched in the corner of the room, it was watching Edith’s movements with its left eye. “Hello!” the bird squawked.

“Hello, what’s your name?” Edith asked.

“Who’s a pretty bird then?” the bird asked.

“That would be you, pretty bird,” the lady replied. She whistled a little bird-like tune and then returned to the kitchen to wash the utensils she had just used.

IV

“Smells wonderful,” Bob said as he entered the dining room. He was wearing the blue suit he had suggested.

“You see,” Edith smiled as she looked him up and down, “that is a wonderful suit. I am positive that she will love it.”

“Thank you.” Bob sat at the table and took a bite of the sandwich. He chewed noisily, still unaccustomed to his dentures. He swallowed and said, “aw, perfect!”

She smiled, “how are you feeling?”

“A bit nervous, excited but nervous,” he said. “It was a long, long time ago when we first stepped out together. The way I am feeling right now, it’s the same as how I felt when I walked up to her door.” He exhaled deeply and placed his hands firmly on the table, on either side of the plate. “I feel like I could be sick. The butterflies inside my stomach, they’re dancing,” he smiled, “I feel silly, childish and silly.”

“Don’t be,” she smiled. “What you’re feeling; it’s the excitement of being reunited with your one true love. It’s natural and if I must say, wonderful to see.”

Bob turned to the grandfather clock and acknowledged the time. “We have fifteen minutes until we have to be there, do we have enough time?”

“Plenty,” she replied.

Bob took a sip of his tea, “if you say so.”

“Do you remember what we discussed in my office?”

“I am to hold your hand at all times, yes.”

“That is correct,” she watched him with adoration in her eyes as he finished his meal.

“Okay,” Bob placed the cup back on to the table moments later. “I need to brush my teeth.”

V

The pair stood holding hands in the front room of Bob’s home, his right hand in her left. “We will transcend in a moment. When I say the word; I need you to close your eyes because it can be quite disorienting if you do not,” she implored.

“Okay,” Bob answered.

“Are you ready?”

“I think so.”

“Okay,” she faced Bob head on. She looked into Bob’s eyes, blinked slowly and exhaled. “I would like you to close your eyes now, Bob. Can you do that for me please?”

Bob closed his eyes.

“I want you to keep them closed until I indicate that it is safe for you to open them once more, are we clear?”

“Crystal,” Bob replied.

The lady watched Bob’s eyes while she connected the tips of her middle finger and thumb on her right hand, forming a circle. She then added her index finger, pressing the tip of it down so that it touched both her thumb and middle finger, completing the loop.

They disappeared into a shadowy swirl of darkness.

VI

They reappeared in another time and space, on Earth, in the kitchen of a Bungalow in Cornwall, England. Identical to the one they had just left.

There was no sound to be heard, only that of a ticking grandfather clock and the shallow breathing of the plump elderly woman. She was asleep in her favourite chair in the front room.

Edith looked at Bob and squeezed his hand gently. He opened his eyes.

Edith raised the index finger of her right hand to her lips, indicating that he was to remain quiet. Bob nodded. Together they approached the elderly woman. She was clutching a photograph of her and Bob from their wedding day in her hand, she was smiling in her slumber.

Edith squeezed Bob’s hand gently. Bob and Edith locked eyes momentarily. Edith smiled at him reassuringly and blinked her eyes slowly. He nodded.

Edith reached out her hand and placed it on the elderly woman’s shoulder, as she did so: the woman exhaled.

“It’s your turn,” Edith said reassuringly.

With a tear in his eye, Bob reached with his left hand and cupped her face gently. “Betty?” he whispered.

Betty inhaled. She sat up in her seat and then stood with the grace of a twenty-year-old version of herself. Betty opened her eyes. She looked both confused and happy at the same time. “Hello Dearie, is this a dream?” she asked.

“Oh Betty,” Bob answered, “it’s time that you came home now.”

“It is?” she smiled.

“It is.”

Betty glanced at the body behind her, seated and now vacant. “Then please,” she said, gripping on to Bob’s hand tightly, “I’m ready. Take me with you.”

The Collector, Edith, she connected her middle finger with her thumb and said; “close your eyes, Bob, close your eyes, Betty.”

They did.

“Let’s go home,” Edith said a moment before adding her index finger to the loop.

The trio disappeared into a shadowy swirl of darkness, and together they transcended to the Everafter.

 

The End

Edith will return in ‘Almost Surely,’ October 2018.

 

 

[Flash Fiction] Suckers

“If you can sign here, and here,” he pointed, “and here, here and here, you’re good to go.”

He perused the contract slowly, reading the words over and over in his mind. “I don’t know.”

“What are you worried about?”

“What if it doesn’t work?”

“Well,” he shrugged his lips, “you’ll be dead.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” he sighed.

“If you’d rather not, then I understand. It’s experimental, but revolutionary technology. I admit, we haven’t figured out how to revive the dead yet, but we will.”

“Are you sure? I mean; how close are you to cracking it?”

“Close,” he nodded frantically, “very close.”

“Within weeks, years, what is it?”

The man smiled and pulled the contract from the table. “I can see that this is not for you,” he said, folding the paperwork.

“No, please, it’s just… I don’t know. I’m worried that you won’t be able to bring me back, that’s all.”

“It’s a gamble we’re all making,” he said. “When you die, would you rather be revived in ten years, or three hundred?”

“That’s beside the point.”

“No, it is the point,” he snapped. “Just think about all of the inventions you have seen in your lifetime, how old are you now?”

“I’m only thirty.”

“You grew up with a black and white television, correct?”

“Yeah.”

“And what do we have now?”

“I see your point.”

“4K resolution,” he ignored the man. “Augmented reality, virtual reality, you name it, if it’s not already available, it’ll be here in five years. It’s only a matter of time before they crack the human body wide open, you watch. There are cures for cancer and AIDs now, do you realise? I don’t suppose you do, because it’s not common knowledge just yet,” he rubbed his fingers together, indicating that they were expensive treatments, “but there are. Celebrities will outlive us because they can afford it.”

The man stared at the folded contract. He wanted it back, so he reached for it.

“Are you ready to sign?”

“I think so,” he sighed.

The salesman handed the paperwork back and watched as the man unfolded it. Within seconds, he had signed all of the dotted lines and laid the pen down on the table.

“You’re right,” the man said. “If you can’t bring me back, I’ll already be dead. What difference will it make, huh?”

“Precisely!”

“So what happens now?”

“You have to live in this country until the day you die because we need your body within hours of death…” he licked his lips and paused. He worked some mental mathematics and said; “we need the body very soon after death, just to counteract any deterioration that will, inevitably occur.”

“That makes sense. But, what if I go on holiday or something?”

“We have clinics in France, Spain, Washington, New York, Texas and Rio de Janiero. If you’re in any of those countries; you’ll be fine. Any other country, though, will be a gamble,” he shrugged. “You can go for the premium package, where we repatriate your body on a private jet, but that is…” he rubbed his fingers together again, “quite the expense.”

He nodded and stared at the contract on the table. He thought about all of the locations on his bucket list, and how many were in the countries the salesman had named. Not many were. “How much is the premium package?” he asked.

“You’re looking at half a mill, anywhere north of the Equator, excluding Russia. It’s seven-fifty for anywhere south of the Equator, excluding Australia and New Zealand. Those three countries, Oz, NZ and Russia, they’re nine-fifty.”

“Does that include…” he thought, “bed and board?”

“The big freeze?” he laughed.

“Yeah.”

“It does not, I’m afraid. The premium package prices I gave are for repatriation only.”

“So, if I want to go on Safari, and I croak while searching for lions; I’m looking at my standard Fifty K, plus another seven-hundred-and-fifty to reclaim my body?”

The salesman nodded.

“So, that’s eight-hundred in total, yes?”

“That’s correct.”

He thought about this, intently and became quiet.

“You do not have to make your decision right now,” the salesman said, “unless you plan on leaving the country, I mean. Was Africa somewhere that you wanted to visit?”

“Not particularly. It was only an example.”

“Oh, right,” the salesman nodded. “We’re opening up a new clinic in Johannesburg in three years’ time, so if you wanted to wait until then before…” he sliced a hand across his own throat, “you know…”

“I don’t plan on dying just yet,” the man laughed.

“Well, that’s good to know.” The salesman smiled. He nodded at the paperwork and lifted an eyebrow. “So, what do you think? Are you happy? Or would you like more time to think about upgrading?”

“It’s one hell of a jump in cost.”

“You’re not wrong,” the salesman agreed. “But, you don’t want to get caught short.”

“Can I think about it some more, and get back to you in a few days?”

“Sure, I mean; if you’re not travelling out of the country, you’re golden. Do you have any planned holidays?”

The man shook his head. “Not at present, no.”

“Well then, you have plenty of time.”

“That’s true,” he nodded. “Well, is there anything else, or am I ready to go?”

“Nope, that is everything,” he smiled. “You’re covered as soon as the money is transferred over. We’ll allocate your position in the community,” he wanted to say ‘warehouse,’ but he knew that it would not sound very luxurious. “We’ll prep the pod and keep it ready, should you need it sooner rather than later.”

The man nodded at this and stood.

The two men shook hands and left the room together. The salesman escorted the customer out of the building and glanced at his watch as the front door closed.

“Shit!”

He sprinted back down the corridor, into his office, and jumped into the chair in front of his desk. “Shit shit shit!” He logged in to the computer, opened up his internet browser and logged into his online, black-market auction site. On a separate tab, he logged in to his internet banking, and then he flipped back to the auction page.

You have been outbid!

Rare White Rhinoceros horn, immaculate condition; £75,001.

He added £1,000 to his maximum bid and hit return. It went through in time. He was the highest bidder now, with only 20 seconds remaining in the auction. “That was close!” he smiled. He glanced out of the window and down into the warehouse. There were pods and pods and pods, in rows, for as far as the eyes could see, like the Xenomorph eggs on LV-426, in the movie; Alien, but instead of spider-like creatures, they contained the bodies of dead humans waiting to be reborn.

“Suckers,” he laughed and returned to his screen.

Roses are red, April is grey, I’m a few days late, but…

April came and went, right? I know, I know, it wasn’t that quick, but it sure felt like it was.

I’m feeling pretty chipper today, and the reason for why is because I figured a bunch of shit out.

I finished the ‘overhaul draft’ of Almost Surely yesterday, just as I hoped I would. For those taking notes and for those who care; the story ended up being 92,123 words, over 379 pages. I have formatted it for Kindle, added some graphics and stuff, and sent it to my device for proofing. All I need to do now is re-read it and fine-tune the language. I can’t imagine that the length and word-count will fluctuate much, but I’m not fussed if it does. I tightened everything up on this pass through, but a page here or there, either adding to or subtracting from the work seems reasonable to me.

Almost Surely is four times longer than The Surrogate, so I know that it’s going to take time to get it feeling ‘right.’

I do most of my reading at night, which just so happens to be my best time for proofing, too.

In other news: I have approved the cover!

Sorry, that’s a humorous sentence that I’ve seen ‘real authors’ post on Twitter, over and over and I couldn’t help but say it, too, because it’s ridiculous. What it means is; the publisher has shown me the cover that they want to go with, and I said ‘okay,’ even though I hate it.

The difference between us is that they have a publisher to deal and contend with, whereas: I don’t. I’m happy because it looks like how I dreamed it would.

I finished the rear cover too. I’m showing the blurb to people now, just to confirm that it sounds enticing, but; so far, so good. The artwork is (officially) 90% done.

I’ll be announcing the book (officially) on June 1st, so note it in your diaries.

For the first time since December; I can concentrate on other things!

Things sneak up on you

A few things for me, this month:

Eat The Elephant by A Perfect Circle.

It’s their new album. I knew that it was due, and after a fourteen-year absence; of course it was due! But, I don’t know, maybe I stopped paying attention to dates, or something, but it arrived! My favourite elements of the previous A Perfect Circle records were where the band played beautiful music and where Maynard’s vocals were more mellow, exposed and emotional. Eat The Elephant took those, rather than the riff-heavy, and ran with it. I know that some are feeling indifferent to it, or hate it, but I love it.

I’m still processing it, and of the four albums in their catalogue, this is how I rank them:

1, Thirteenth Step.

2, Eat The Elephant.

3, eMOTIVe

4, Mer De Noms

Avengers: Infinity War

I forgot that was coming, until the week it released. I haven’t seen it, or Black Panther, either, but I know a couple of scenes. In honesty though, they were ‘a given’ because of what Marvel is releasing next. I wouldn’t consider them spoilers. My wife Mella has had the movie spoiled for her, but she hasn’t told me about it. I don’t know when I’m going to see it, either, which sucks. Let’s hope that I can avoid the dickheads who revel in ruining it for other people, huh?

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick.

I saw the movie years ago. It’s what introduced me to the concept of rotoscoped animation and my short-lived fascination and desire to do it. Anyway, if you haven’t seen the movie; amend that as soon as you can, here’s the trailer:

I’m not talking about the movie though, no, I’m talking about the book. I’ve had it on my shelf for the better part of three years, and I had not read it, until this month.

There’s a stigma about Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, and understandably so, but ignoring this, the one thing I enjoyed and awed at while reading that novel was how angry the writing was.

It’s similar here, with A Scanner Darkly, but instead of anger, it is a combination of confusion, love, fear and sorrow. I felt deeply moved by it. I know that a few of my stories are heavily influenced by PKD (Almost Surely being one) but, even though I have read a fair amount of his stuff, I would never say that he was one of my favourite authors, but A Scanner Darkly? There were only two books on my ‘I’ll read this over and over and be happy to do so’ list before I read it. Now there are three.

I knew the story prior to reading the book, but even so; it grabbed me far harder than I expected it to.

Of all of the novels I have read (of Philip K Dick) thus far; it’s my favourite.

If you get the opportunity to read it: please do.

Other Books

I finished that bloody Murakami novel. I enjoyed it initially, but it dragged towards the end, and, not being funny, it wasn’t as enjoyable as some of the other novels (by Murakami) I have read. If you’re new to his work; check out 1Q84, Norwegian Wood, Kafka by the Shore and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage first, before venturing here. Murakami has a pocket of tropes that he plucks from, and he does it so regularly that it’s becoming nauseating. The novels I listed above are all superior to Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, in my opinion.

I’m currently reading Lock In by John Scalzi. It’s a lot lighter, and very good so far.

Basketball

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see that I’ve been talking a lot about Basketball recently.

Sorry.

Not Sorry, actually.

Basketball was my first love; before Music, before skateboarding, MMA and boobs. To cut a long story short; the team I support (New Orleans Pelicans. Previously; Charlotte Hornets before a location and name change) are in the playoffs for the first time in years, and they have the chance to challenge for the championship. It’s an exciting time for me.

Honestly, I anticipated that the team would get eliminated in the first round, but they swept the series four games to zero. And I, like a lot of fans, believed that our season was over when DeMarcus Cousins tore his Achilles tendon back in February, but the team have clicked and rallied to get the sixth seed in their conference.

Yeah, I know, that’s a whole load of information to consume and understand, especially if you are unfamiliar with American sports, but… *shrugs* I’m all in. If you don’t like it, just ignore me. It only takes up a small percentage of my interests.

Gym

I’m not going to harp on this too much because it’s obnoxious, but it has been a major part of my month. I’ve been taking my gym attendance more seriously because I’ve seen some good results.

I’m not going to get ‘swole,’ and I’m not going to be one of those ‘fitspo’ folks that rams it down your throat every fucking day, but; yeah, my clothes fit a bit better (which is cool, and why I’m going.) The biggest benefit I’ve felt though is my mental acuity. Getting a good sweat on in the morning gets me mentally active far earlier than I would if I didn’t. Without it, I’m about 87% sure that I wouldn’t have finished the book this month. So; yeah, fitness is great, and until they figure out how to throw your consciousness into another human shell; your body is the only one you’ve got. Look after it. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but I’m trying. The mental acuity thing is a side-effect that many forget to mention, so I figured that I would, cos we’re all smort, and the brain trust should stick together, right?

I imagine that I’ll eventually share ‘this is me fat, this is me not so fat, but still pretty fat’ photos, but it’ll be a one-off thing, cos I’m not vain like that…*shrugs*

Still, I think I’m getting a butt again. I like it.

Pizza

I went out with a bunch of old friends (and a bunch of new friends, too) last night. We went to the local, non-chain pizzeria, and it was wonderful. I ate a lot of pizza. Here’s proof:

IMG_20180501_101633_385

The monthly Spotify playlist:

1, Meyhem Lauren – 5 Wagon

The new album ‘Glass’ is dope. Meyhem is so consistent that he’s slowly becoming one of my favourite emcees.

2, Adrian Younge – Jimmy’s Dead (Instrumental)

From the Black Dynamite soundtrack; one of my favourite movies. Hilarious Parody Blaxploitation, check out the trailer below:

3, Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love

2Pac sampled this for his track ‘Do For Love.’

4, Luther Vandross – Never Too Much

Check out that Marcus Miller bass. #BassFace

5, Jackson Sisters – I Believe In Miracles

Just a badass tune.

6, Rishloo – Downhill

I found these guys on Spotify. I like them a lot.

7, Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

Now for our feature presentation…

8, Air – Alone in Kyoto

9, M83 – Oblvion

This is the end theme to the Tom Cruise movie ‘Oblivion,’ and it’s one of my favourite songs this last decade. I love it!

10, Save Ferris – Lies

11, Gojira – Unicorn

12, Michael Jackson – Give In To Me

13, Louis Armstron – I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues

14, Colour Haze – Love

15, Mad Caddies – She

Awesome Green Day cover!

16, MF DOOM – Red And Gold

Wrapping it up

That’s it from me. I saw a guy on TV this morning that gave me an idea for a short story, so I’ll probably write that this month. If I do; I’ll probably publish it here. No promises though.

Oh yeah! It’s the election on Thursday, so go out and vote, unless you’re voting Tory, of course, because they’re collecting Tory votes on Friday. You don’t want to embarrass us poor, dumb folks with your elitist presence. Nah. Your ‘I don’t care about anyone but myself’ vote happens on Friday. *wink, wink*

Look out for one another.

Much love

x

My debut novella ‘The Surrogate,’ is available to buy from Amazon, now:

The monthly update (March 2018)

Personal

This month felt like it lasted a year. If you’ve learnt anything about me while reading this blog, or by following me on Twitter, you’ll know that I am an ‘all or nothing’ kind of guy. Once I’m interested in something, I have to know everything about it. I work in Quality Assurance in my day job (and that’s all you’re getting, about that) which means that I am a slave to data. It doesn’t sound very interesting, I’m sure, but it kinda defines who I am, and how my mind works. I had felt that March was an unproductive month, but in reading over the data from last month, I know that I’m being too harsh on myself. Quite honestly, I was ready to wallow in depressive thoughts because of it, but now? Nah, I’m doing okay. I’m progressing slowly, but like I keep saying to myself; slow progress is still progress.

Early March was emotional. I wrote about it a few months back, that little boy Jonah had an abscess on his bottom which worried me and my wife greatly, well; he had his appointment at Chelsea and Westminster hospital and they gave it a diagnosis. He needs to have a surgical procedure to fix it. We’re waiting on a date for it, now, but it’s good to know that there is a plan in place. He’s moving on to solid foods now too, so there’s a possibility that it will fix itself. We’ll see. There are no guarantees. I hate the idea of surgery, but if it’ll improve his quality of life, then I’m all for it.

I met Bruce Campbell on the 13th March. It was during a signing at Forbidden Planet, in London. He was a really cool dude. He signed a copy of his new memoir for me. It’s only the second signing I’ve been to, and despite how nervous some people get, I didn’t really feel it. I’ll admit, I have only seen the first Evil Dead movie. But I’ve listened to a bunch of interviews with Bruce over the years, and I have a great deal of respect for him as a result, but I didn’t get nearly as star-struck as I expected to. Here are some pics:

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Writing

I’m still editing Almost Surely. I ended last month on page 104 of 380. I’m ending this month on page 249 of 395. My biggest takeaway is that I edited 145 pages this month, but I added 15 pages, too. These aren’t fresh chapters, (well, one is) they, mostly, are new paragraphs and expanded conversations within existing chapters. Excluding page-breaks, I probably added 8 or 9 pages of content. I’m neither happy nor upset about this. I know that most writers’ aims are to remove pointless text from the book and (given last month’s review of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’) I understand why. But sometimes you just need to add a little here and there.

My target was to finish this draft by the end of March, but (obviously) that isn’t happening. If I were to repeat this month’s progress and edit 145 pages next month; I may be finished by the end of April. Which, I’d be ecstatic with. My aim is to get proofs printed in June, so even taking the delay into account; I’m still on target. Also; (and as an aside) I know when I’m revealing the cover.

I haven’t made any notes on future projects this month, but I’m thinking a great deal. I want to write a short story/novelette sort thing, next, maybe 45-50 pages in length, and I want this to be my ‘June Task,’ but we’ll see. I had a lot of plans for this year, but I think this editing lark is going to take up most of my time.

Books and stuff

I’m still reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle…

My comic book highlights this month were:

Paper Girls Vol. 4 

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The mind-bending, time-warping adventure from BRIAN K. VAUGHAN and CLIFF CHIANG continues, as intrepid newspaper deliverer Tiffany is launched from the prehistoric past into the year 2000! In this harrowing version of our past, Y2K was even more of a cataclysm than experts feared, and the only person who can save the future is a 12-year-old girl from 1988.

What I said: Issues 16-20. The last arc was a bit hit and miss, and ever so slightly confusing, but this arc makes sense of what’s going on. It’s fantastic, too. Roll on June, for issue 21!

Plastic 

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Retired serial killer Edwyn Stoffgruppen is in love with Virginia, a girl he “met online.” Her affection quiets his vile urges.
Together, they tour the back roads of America in their LTD Crown Vic, eating doughnuts and enjoying their insatiable appetites for each other. Life is good…until a Louisiana billionaire kidnaps Virginia, forcing Edwyn to kill again in exchange for her freedom.
And the twist to all of this? Virginia is a sex doll.

What I said: Hilarious, sad and bonkers, I wanted to give the book a standing ovation once I finished reading it. I didn’t though, because that’d be weird.

Movies and TV

For a month that felt as long as this one, I cannot remember all of what we watched, but the highlights were:

The History of Comedy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn4t0FMzC3Y

On Sky Arts, rather than CNN. Each episode breaks down a particular aspect of comedy, and delves into its origins and showcases the pioneers. I’m an avid comedy fan, and knew a lot about what was shown, but there were a few pleasant surprises here and there. Like, that ‘Here’s Johnny!’ line that Jack Nicholson shouts in The Shining. That’s in reference to Johnny Carson, and how his MC would introduce him to the audience. I mean; I’m only guessing, but it seems about right, right? Check this out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZKmsA8bzao

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) 

I’ve had the DVD for a couple of years now, but in doing my (much needed) CD and DVD cull, I pulled it out, and put it on. It was incredible. This is what I said about it:

The monthly Spotify playlist:

1, Kendrick Lamar – The Art of Peer Pressure

2, Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M.

3, A$AP Rocky – 1Train

4, Dave Brubeck – Take Five

5, Thundercat – Tokyo

6, Sampha – Timmy’s Prayer

7, The Ting Tings – Wrong Club

8, Rolo Tomassi – Aftermath

9, Tarika Blue – Dreamflower

10, Jon Hopkins – I Remember

11, Syl Johnson – Is It Because I’m Black

12, Kali Uchis – After The Storm (featuring Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins)

13, Suicidal Tendencies – Get Your Bass On!

14, Gunship – Art3mis and Parzival

15, CHVRCHES – My Enemy

16, Kylie Minogue – Confide In Me

17, Joe Pass – A Time For Us

18, Adrian Younge – Dusts of Gold

19, Thug Life – Pour Out A Little Liquor

Other stuff:

I set up a public Instagram account. You can follow it here:

https://www.instagram.com/DoctorUlysses/

I’m pretty active on Twitter, check me out here:

The Surrogate

Obesity is a thing of the past; it was eradicated at the cellular level, many generations ago. The populous is now healthy, beautiful and promiscuous, but all is not as it should be.

Ronald Calico is renowned for being the world’s only living obese man. He is the proprietor of Little Harajuku’s premier cuddle-lounge, the destination for those who crave intimacy.

He is ‘The Surrogate,’ and he has requested my presence, so that I may tell his story.

My debut novel is available now from your local Amazon website. Click below for a preview.

The Surrogate, now available on Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited is a pay-for service. You pay a monthly subscription, and it allows you to read any, from a large selection of books in the Amazon library.

My novella is available to read, using this service.

*this isn’t a new thing, in fact; I chose to enrol in the programme when I uploaded the book, I just hadn’t promoted this fact.

Synopsis:
Obesity is a thing of the past; it was eradicated at the cellular level, many generations ago. The populous is now healthy, beautiful and promiscuous, but all is not as it should be.

Ronald Calico is renowned for being the world’s only living obese man. He is the proprietor of Little Harajuku’s premier cuddle-lounge, the destination for those who crave intimacy.

He is ‘The Surrogate,’ and he has requested my presence, so that I may tell his story.

The Surrogate is a science fiction novella about sexuality, intimacy and the societal narrative behind the subjects deemed as ‘taboo.’
Also included is the short story entitled: ‘Collector.’ A story in it’s own right, but also a teaser for Gavin’s upcoming novel; ‘Almost Surely.’

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

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

Tools down, go home. 2017, a year in review.

 

Well, my novella was accidentally released early. The print version came out on Monday because I either wasn’t alerted to or didn’t pay attention to, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing procedure. *shrugs*

Physical release:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Surrogate-science-fiction-sexuality-intimacy/dp/1973530899/

The Kindle version though; that’s a different story. I uploaded this version, and listed it a few days prior to the print files, selected a pre-order date and shared the link once it was live. It had garnered a couple of pre-orders, so, when Amazon threw the physical edition to the printers, ignoring my release date, it sent me for a loop. And because I didn’t want to upset the pre-order folks by bringing the date too forward (releasing it now, to coincide with the print version.) because I knew that Amazon would charge them straight away; I rescheduled the release to January 1st.

Kindle:

Knowing me, I would’ve stressed for all of the weeks leading up to the release anyway, so now that it’s out in the public and out of my hands, there’s bugger all I can do about it now. So; this is probably for the best. It’s not how I wanted to release the book, but what are you gonna do?

Personal:

My wife and I welcomed our fifth (and final*) baby; Jonah in June. He’ll be six months old on December 24th, and boy has the time flown! He’s wonderful and developing rapidly. He’s already crawling and sitting up on his own, which is crazy. I have three boys, all under three-years-old, and it fascinating to see them grow and develop their personalities. Atticus, my eldest boy, he’s a joker, he makes voices and dances unreservedly. Ever, my middle boy, he loves hats and when he gets excited; he has to lie down. He’s just learning how to string sentences together now, and it’s beautiful to hear his voice and enthusiasm. Isabella, my eldest, she’s reading at a level which is a few years above her age, so much so that she’s taken to reading bedtime stories to her brothers. She’s playing the piano now too, learning songs either by ear or from watching tutorials on YouTube. She reminds me of myself, at that age; endlessly creative, motivated to learn. I couldn’t be prouder.

Jonah developed an abscess on his bottom last month, which grew ridiculously and did not respond to antibiotics at first, so that was traumatising, to say the least.
I’ll be honest; I was utterly beside myself. Next year will mark ten years since we lost Finley. He died because of septicaemia. I’m not over it, not in the slightest, how do you get over something like that? You can’t. But that’s entirely the reason why I was so traumatised when Jonah’s abscess did not react to the medication. I feared that it would burst internally and… I don’t even want to write the words.

We were referred to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (which is a fantastic hospital, by the way) so that he could have surgery. Thankfully, it popped (externally) overnight, the night before his appointment, so when we arrived; they gave us some heavier anti-biotics and sent us on our way.

It was a horrendous week. We had all been ill that week anyway, with colds, and I cried on the phone to my boss when I told him about Jonah, because I was scared, and… it’s over with now. When we left the hospital, Mella and I, with JoJo in tow, took a long walk around West Brompton Cemetery, ate warm, freshly baked bagels and drank Christmassy drinks while it snowed. Scenarios and fears aside; that day was one of the highlights of my year.

Productivity:

2017 has been the single more productive year of my life. I finished writing two novels, one novella (The Surrogate, available now!) and I am roughly 90% done with another novella, too.

I did all of the writing, editing, proofing, artwork, file conversion and formatting for The Surrogate, and I am incredibly proud of what I have accomplished. I’ll do another post about that book, the why’s, how’s and all of that, at a later date.

I have been stuck in a quandary the past few years because I wrote a pair of novels which are based on transgressive ideas that now fall outside of my usual style of writing. It’s almost like an alter-ego; I don’t know how to explain it. I had a surgical procedure earlier in the year (*Vasectomy) which led to a ridiculous story idea, one that I am currently writing, but I want a way of isolating that form of fiction away from my more serious stories so that they do not cross-pollinate. I’ve got an idea of how to do it, which I’ll share at a later date too, but needless to say; I’m feeling incredibly creative at the moment. I’ve even taken to drawing again.

Entertainment:

Here’s a quick round-up of the entertainment stuff I have consumed this year.
Movies:
My favourite (new) movies of the year were: Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve) and Get Out (Jordan Peele)
I’m aware that I have not seen all of what I wanted to (Namely; The Shape of Water, Your Name and The Foreigner) but here are some (very) honourable mentions:
Valerian, Moonlight, Fences, Moana (Lots of ugly tears here, that bloody stingray…) Thor: Ragnarok, Logan, Guardians Vol. II, Alien Covenant (Yes, I bloody loved that movie) and Kubo.

Television:

WESTWORLD!

Music:

Without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite album of the year was Emperor of Sand, but Mastodon.
I’ll admit, I do not jump on to new music very regularly. I take my time with it and typically get caught up with an older album, or artist, and grow obsessed. These past few years have revolved almost solely around the Synthwave genre, ‘Gunship,’ by Gunship (a secondary project by members of Fightstar) and ‘Atlas’ by FM-84 has not left my car’s glove box this year.

Here are the albums that have gotten me through 2017:

 

Books/Comics:

I’ve been consuming older stuff, mostly, this year. I’m drawing a blank of what stood out to me because it has been a long year. But peep what I have read, here;
My reading challenge

At a glance, I’d say Sweet Tooth Vol. 3 was probably the one. I cried for a solid half-hour after finishing that. Ugly, ugly, sweaty-faced tears. It’s the only book that elicited such emotion from me this year, so; yeah. Go and pick up Sweet Tooth (Vol.1-3) by Jeff Lemire.

Ooh, The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov, too. That was incredible.

Gaming:

Steep and Doom, on Xbox One. These were my favourite gaming experiences of the year!

What’s next?

I’m not going to rest for Christmas because I have the next three book releases to think about. I have mocked-up the covers for two of them, and I am editing one intensely now, correcting everything about it, tightening it up. So that’s what I’m going to do in my spare time, over the Christmas break, I’m going to read and make notes on the next book. And then I’m going to make all of the edits in January, during lunch breaks, at work, where I’ll have hour-long chunks to concentrate.

The novel? It’s called ‘Almost Surely,’ and it’s about a man who works on behalf of the physical embodiment of Fate. I adore it. I’ve been shopping this manuscript to literary agents for the best part of a year. Rejection letters are piling up, so sod it; I’m publishing it independently. That’ll be in the second half of 2018.

After that? Well; I’m not quite ready to discuss the next two projects just yet. But the first will be a novella (the transgressive one I mentioned earlier) some time at the end of 2018, and then I’ll publish a novel in 2019.

And after that? Well; I’ve got two more novels in the vault, that I’ll put consideration into, but I want to write some more before I think about what I’m going to do with those.
I do not know what I’m writing next, but I’ll start something in the New Year, I imagine.
Until then; it’s all about editing my existing projects and doing promotional stuff for ‘The Surrogate.’

In conclusion:
Until then, tell people you love them, hug them tightly. Enjoy the holidays; we’ll get through this together!

Much love
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