Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Story for Halloween.

I've found time to crack this out over the last couple of days. It's not properly edited, it's not been cut back, honed, tightened, sorted or properly tickled. Sorry about that, but I figure Halloween is tomorrow so it's now or never. 

A free story for you. You can't really complain can you?


Jason looked bored. He didn’t just look bored, he was bored. Bored of the tame and lame, bored of Becky being clothed, and bored of his condition being somewhere between slightly drunk and mildly stoned.

The evening was a fucking wash out.

John continued his boring, bullshit story about some fucking werewolf while Becky pushed herself further and further into his coat, invading his space, making matters worse. He was never in the mood to cuddle. He wanted to fuck or for her to get the fuck out of his space.

‘John? Shut the fuck up,’ Jason muttered loudly enough for everyone to hear but not loud enough to be considered a real challenge on John’s storytelling skills. It could have been passed off as a reaction to something terrifying he’d said.

Of course, it wasn’t.

John continued and Jason shifted in place, the log he was leaning against was biting into his back and Becky wasn’t helping with her constant, needy shifting.

‘Yo? John? Shut the fuck up,’ Jason was at the end of his patience. He had no time for this childish bullshit.
‘What? You got a better story Jas?’ John kicked a stray stick into the fire and sat back. He reached for a beer from the cool bag and tossed another one to his grumbling friend.

‘No,’ Jason replied, ‘but that doesn’t mean your lame-assed dogman crap was something I had to make time for.’ Becky shifted away from her muscular jock boyfriend, recognising the surly mood he was in and knew better than to challenge him. Jason wasn’t the nicest boyfriend when he’d had a few drinks.

‘Okay,’ Jason continued, ‘well this is a fine Halloween game to play. Let’s sit and listen to the woods and see who can stay quiet the longest while listening to the deadfalls creak.’ Jason looked around at the group of friends and knew he was impacting on the mood, turning it from a light-hearted night into an awkward silence. He didn’t care, he liked the power he had to crush conversation and he was well known for his ruthless need for dominance over his minions.

Being the quarterback of the football team gave him that kind of power.

They sat, Becky was pissed off that the story had ended but lit up when Liz passed her the joint. She sucked in the smoke and giggled. Suddenly she wasn’t giggling anymore but instead was sitting bolt upright, pointing out into the darkness, ‘There’s someone fucking out there!’

John stood up and looked into the woods, his nightvision shot to shit as he’d been staring at the fire. Jas was too cool to stand but instead mocked Becky and pulled faces at her. Searching the darkness John’s eyes adjusted and there, right there, in the woods, coming down the path was a torchlight.

‘Liz, hide the weed, some fuckers coming...’ John whispered over his shoulder as he watched the torchlight reach the turning on the path and then head towards them.  Jason stood up and watched the path intently, ‘It’s probably Morris. I told him we’d be up here and he said his dad wanted him to clean out the garage. I figured the pussy was too scared for the woods but...’

Jason and John stared into the darkness and then both jumped as a jet black Labrador ran straight at them out of the darkness and started barking wildly. The two teenagers jumped backwards and drew closer to their fire while swearing at the dog.

Out of the darkness the figure carrying the torch stepped into the light and stood before the group of four kids. Their terror turned to relief and then minor panic as they recognised their history teacher; Ms Barnes.
‘Holy shit Ms Barnes, you scared John.’ Jason said loudly while still looking slightly nervously at the barking dog. Ms Barnes clicked her fingers and the dog stopped its noise and moved back to stay by her side.
‘Out here enjoying Halloween night kids?’ She asked and the teens still looked nervous, apprehension in the air. ‘Chill, I know you’re drinking and probably smoking out here, right? That’s what set Roger off, he knows when you’ve been on it, he can smell it like a fart in a car.’

Lucy and Becky exchanged glances and shook their heads. ‘We aren’t doing nothing like that Ms Barnes, we’re just having a quiet party.’

‘Relax, you’re kids, live a little, you think I give a shit if you teens are out here drinking till dawn, or until your boy gets the horn? It’s none of my business, and I have no intention of telling your folks. Live and let live, that’s what I say.’

Ms Barnes stepped further into the circle of light the fire cast. She was dressed in jeans and walking boots, a heavy jacket kept out the cold and her long dark hair was tied tight in a ponytail. She had a slender figure that grabbed the attention of many of her male students and colleges alike and her pretty, serious, face was framed by a light pair of glasses. The fires light flickered off the frames and glass as the teens stared at her.
‘Pretty late for you to be out walking Ms Barnes?’ John stepped to the side and offered her more space by the fire. She took another step forward and switched off her torch, placing it in her pocket before stepping even closer and warming her hands by the fire.

‘I like walking Roger in the evening, the nights have closed in quickly now but this is still his favourite place to come so I indulge him.’

Jason sat down next too Becky who was still trying to hide the join under her butt. Jason pulled the joint out and stuck it between his lips. Ms Barnes watched him light it and take a deep breath before she walked around and took it off him. Becky watched her, expecting the joint to go in the fire, but instead Ms Barnes took a long toke and held the smoke in. She let it escape from the sides of her mouth as she smiled.
‘I won’t tell on you, if you don’t tell on me.’

Ms Barnes laughed at the gathered seventeen year olds and their stunned faces. She imagined their faces could be contorted in even greater shock, but that wasn’t why she was there that night.
‘It’s very late Ms Barnes,’ Lucy said quickly, ‘Aren’t you worried, walking in the woods in the dark?’
‘No. I have my Barracuda .357 revolver on me. Anyone screws with me they get dead really very quickly, Lucy.’

Jason  laughed. ‘What if you get jumped and they overpower your skinny ass?’

Ms Barnes looked Jason up and down and smiled. ‘Nothing sneaks up on me out here. I know these woods like the back of my hand.’

‘Can I see your piece?’ John extended his hand and smiled broadly at his history teacher. He couldn’t help but feel slightly embarrassed when she laughed at him.

‘Oh yes John! I’ll just hand over my gun to a male teenager in the middle of the darkened woods!’ She laughed at him and Jason joined her. He was struck by how cool this teacher was. How could he have found her so dull in classes, bar the times he was staring at her ass of course.

‘John’s been boring us with a shitty werewolf story. Bet you got a better one.’ He waggled his eyebrows at her but caught a darkening in her look. There was a shift in her attitude, one that confused him. That look reminded him of uncle Daryl who went quiet when he’d drunk more than a few beers. He’d be fine and then someone would say the wrong thing and suddenly he’d be quiet and you could feel the danger of riling him when that happened, Jas had learned to leave well alone.

Ms Barnes stood, dropped the joint and trod it into the dirt. ‘I best be going.’

‘Wait,’ Becky suddenly didn’t like the idea of being left out in the woods, she wanted to keep the teacher near them. Was she suddenly aware of the dark and the surroundings or was it the way Jason was shifting his feet as he sat on his ass, one of the many little signs he had that warned her of an unwanted or rough encounter with him.

‘Ms Barnes, you must of been around when them kids were killed in the woods years ago,’ Becky didn’t want to sound worried or desperate but she felt the continued presence of Ms Barnes was probably wise. ‘Jason said this is the spot where they died. That’s why we’re out here tonight.’

She watched the teacher look as though she was about to say something, but then thought better of it. She stared at them all and then laughed. At first it was a laugh that Becky found strange, almost intimidating, but Ms Barnes continued on and soon they were all chuckling together, surrounded by the dark and the woods as they creaked and breathed.

Ms Barnes walked across the clearing and sat down next to Becky, still chuckling. She snapped her fingers at Lucy and rubbed her right thumb and fore finger together, indicating that she wanted the pot. Lucy pulled the pack out and passed it to her and Ms Barnes continued to snigger quietly as Jason sat down on the other side of the clearing with John.  He watched as this authority figure pulled out a pack of long rips from her pocket as well as a pouch of tobacco and another green pouch. She made a swift joint, first putting their grass in, then adding tobacco from her pouch and then she added more grass from her own private pouch.
Lucy watched her work. Ms Barnes saw her screwed up features and snorted slightly. ‘This is how they roll in England. They don’t smoke it straight. It means it goes further and you can control your high more accurately. Pot is harder to get there.’

‘How do you know that Ms?’ Lucy asked and felt immediately stupid when Ms Barnes looked at her irritably.

‘I studied there for years, how else do you think I know Dumbass? I thought you were the smart one out of this group.’ Ms Barnes replied sternly.

The teens looked at each other as she sparked the joint and took a deep puff. She held the smoke smiling.
‘Okay you fuckers,’ she said passing the joint to Becky as she started building another one instantly. ‘This is what you want right? The real Halloween experience? Sitting in the woods at...’ she checked her watch and then looked up,’ ten o clock on October the 31st. Dark surrounding you, the real feeling of fear? The genuine. Fucking. Article. That’s what you’re looking for, right?’

Jason laughed and shoved John so he shifted about in his place. ‘Listen to this dude! Teacher’s gonna scare us? What’s she going to do? Show us her aged pussy?’

John laughed more from shock than anything. Jason tried to gage Ms Barnes’s reaction but to his surprise he found her completely un-phased by his outrageous comment. She looked over at him and smiled.

‘What’s the matter Jason, you scared?’

‘Not by anything you could do, or say.’

Ms Barnes nodded. ‘Good,’ her reply was so assured, so confident that he felt slightly worried all of a sudden, as though she knew something about him and was about to tell everyone. Something he had kept secret. John passed him the joint and Jas took several puffs and felt himself become slightly fuzzier.
‘So, over twenty years ago there was this bunch of kids, and they decided to go up into the woods for Halloween,’ Ms Barnes passed Becky another joint and then started making another one straight away.
‘They were cocky fuckers that didn’t scare easy,’ she nodded over at Jason, ’especially the big fucker among them that happened to play for the local football team.’ Jason leaned forward and passed her the joint. She took it, took two puffs and passed it to Becky again.

‘Now there were seven of them; an ubber jock, his two best buddies, their girlfriends and one of the girls new friends. She wasn’t a cheer leader, just a normal, but she’d become close friends with the cheer leaders in the weeks running up to the trip and so she’d been invited along.’

Jason yawned pointedly, John passed him a joint and he took some more pot in his system.

‘They were telling stories in the woods, you know, to scare each other, when they hear something in the darkness,’ out in the woods a deadfall creaked and Ms Barnes nodded. ‘Something like that.’

‘Now they didn’t know but they were being watched, watched by someone who had planned to come up into the woods and kill himself some teens, and the teens he was watching had been drinking and they were pretty far gone... But then they realised they were farther gone than they’d meant to be, because they started passing out, one by one.’

Jason shifted nervously and looked at the others around him. He was feeling weird.

‘The teens passed out, just the jocks and the bitches, not the new girl, and when they woke up they couldn’t move, it was like they were paralyzed. See the new girl had slipped something in their beers, something she shouldn’t have, and so when they opened their eyes and found themselves to be all sitting around in a circle, they were scared.

They were scared and they couldn’t move and then one by one a figure moved behind them and pulled a plastic bag over their heads and started to choke them, nearly to the point of death, and then, just as their eyes were bulging... the bag would come off and they’d breath again.’

Becky pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. ‘This isn’t the way I heard the story, I heard they were all slashed and cut up and stuff.’

‘SHUT THE FUCK UP!’ Ms Barnes yelled at her and Becky and her friends jumped and cowered slightly. Jason tried to stand but he found he didn’t have the strength. He’d been hit hard by the drugs.

Ms Barnes puffed on her joint and when Jason tried to pass the joint he had in his hand to her she took it off him and passed it to Becky instead. Becky took it hesitantly and Ms Barnes watched her until she took a puff.

‘So, anyway, this guy goes around the group, bagging them repeatedly, at least three times each right? They are all exhausted and their senses are heightened and then he brings out a straight razor. He runs it across the cheek of the jock, and then his friends and then their girlfriends, and then he takes the jocks beautiful, perfect fucking girlfriend... And he cuts her nose off while she sits there sobbing, tears running into the gapping hole in her face. Then he goes to the Jock and she pulls out his cock, all limp in his hand and he cuts off his balls, and he stuffs them in this bitches nose hole.’

Lucy sobs and John tries to comfort her, but as he reaches out for her he can’t move his arms and he mumbles something at her.

‘Oh, don’t worry, that’s just the drug kicking in,’ Ms Barnes leaned forward and showed them her green pouch, opening it widely to show them it held two compartments inside.

‘I have the antidote in this joint I’m smoking, you guys don’t, just sit tight and let it happen... Shhhh. Just Listen.’ Ms Barnes sat back and hugged Becky, who was now crying silently. The teens arms flopped down by her sides and her legs slumped down in front of her. Ms Barnes sat back down and smiled at them all.
‘So anyway, he cuts off their noses and their fingers, their cocks and their toes. He pops some in the fire and then takes them out when they’re all burnt and pops them in each others mouths and they can feel most of it, slightly numbed but not enough to avoid all the discomfort, right?  Then he sits back and their friend walks into the light, only she’s dressed differently. In another school uniform, one they all recognise.’

Ms Barnes shook her wrists out and moved her fingers in the air to get the blood moving through them.  Then she rolled another joint. Silence consumed them as they all sat waiting for her continue, unable to escape, to turn, to hide from their predicament and run.

‘Turns out this school uniform is one they recognise really well, mainly because they, the hideous fucking monsters that they were, had picked up a girl the year before, walking home in another town and they’d taken her to the woods and attacked her.

These evil fuckers made her do anything and everything they wanted her too and the girls held her wrists and took pictures and laughed and she screamed in pain as they removed her dignity, her innocence and her future.

They were there for hours and then... when they were done... they hit her on the head with a rock and left her there, covered in blood and savaged by their hatred and cruelty and lust.

She died in those woods. She just didn’t know she was dead yet.

But she came to, and walked home, and hid.’

Ms Barnes smiled at them.

‘She was a completely different person by then though, of course she was, and she didn’t last long. Just weeks. She told her father what had happened and she told him what they looked like and then she committed suicide.

Her sister found her in the bath tub, her veins open, her skin as white as an office workers shirt, the water the colour of passion.’

Ms Barnes took a hit from her joint and breathed it out slowly.

‘Her dad and her sister knew which school these fuckers were from because they’d talked about it, and they knew their names and they knew which town they were from... and so they waited and they planned and they bided their time. Finally they found the right time and that’s when her sister approached the cheerleaders and gave them all the indications that she would go up into the woods with them, because they were cool.’

Ms Barnes laughed, ’Oh man, they weren’t so fucking cool with their toes in each other’s mouths.’

She laughed and then that laugh died in her throat and fell away as she looked out into the woods.

‘When the cops found the kids in the morning they were all dead. Slashed and choked and tortured, all sitting in a circle; like we are, looking at each other, all having watched the mutilation of their bodies.’
Jason felt his fingertips tingle, as though he could move them and so he did, just a tiny amount, just a touch. Ms Barnes sucked on her joint and then, very slowly she pulled out her gun and aimed it at Jason’s groin.
‘See, when the cops looked into the six kids they found they’d been drugged and attacked over a very long period of time and worked out that no-one does that kind of shit without reason, so they checked their DNA and guess what? Yeah, they found the kids were popping up all over the place, at crime scenes. Some of their DNA at at least ten rapes in the area.

It looked like they could sew up a huge amount of cases, but then the mayor stepped in, because, you see, the mayors son was the jock in question. So he told the cops to do the sensible thing and stop the investigation, so as not to upset anyone else.

So they buried it.’

Jason moved his hand this time. Ms Barnes sat forward and leaned across. She reached into her pouch and pulled out some more of her grass and pushed it into his mouth. He tried to move his head away but it didn’t work, he felt the effects of the drug strike almost immediately.  Freezing his limbs once more.

‘Ah, poor Jason, this isn’t fair is it?’ She smiled at him, ‘Only it is. See I talked to Becky a while ago and she told me all about you. You and your dislike for the words ‘no’ or ‘stop’.’

Ms Barnes sat down next to Jason and put her arm around his shoulder and pressed her gun into his groin.

‘So I thought I’d come up here tonight, and see what we could do about that. And realistically I know there is only one thing to do; we have to remove you from the gene pool son... But don’t worry, You’re not going alone.’

She stood up and went to stand in front of John who was slumped against Lucy, both of them in tears.
‘John, John, John,’ she said clearly. ‘You and Lucy have been quite the evil little fuckers too haven’t you? What with you terrorising Mrs Goldsmith down on Main Avenue. Throwing crosses on her lawn and calling her a ‘Yid’? All because daddy is a nazi and he wants you to be too, right?

Oh, and Becky? I know about your on-line bullying. How you plagued Trish Williams till she killed herself?’
Ms Barnes turned and walked back to Becky and crouched behind her.

‘I know all about you evil little fuckers and your evil little fucking ways... And I know just how to stop you. ‘
Ms Barnes was clutching something in her hands now. Jason couldn’t quite see what it was, but then she brought it forward and over Becky’s head and he realised it was a clear plastic bag.

‘Don’t worry kids, this isn’t personal, so I won’t make it last,’ She put the gun back in her pocket and pulled the bag tight over Becky’s face, ‘It’s going to be quick for you.’

Jason watched as Ms Barnes squeezed the bag till it was choking her, but not completely. There was obviously some air coming in as Becky’s eyes were still moving, pleading for Jason to save her.

Ms Barnes moved around the group till all four of them were bagged. All four of them were choking, but still just able to cling on too life. Then she sat down by Becky and rolled another joint.

‘The truth is, all the bullshit monster stories, all the Vampires and Werewolves and burnt killers that attack you in your dreams? It’s all bullshit. The real monsters are lurking amongst us. They hold library cards and drink in our local bars and they vote. They shop and they watch trash tv and they wait, wait for the right time to let the monster out of the box.’

Ms Barnes eased the gun out of her pocket once more and pointed it at them one at a time.

‘You would all prefer a bullet rather than the bag and yet you have no empathy for any of your victims,’ she continued to point the pistol, each time aiming it at the horrified faces of her victims. ‘But the fact is if I let you go now, you’d say you’d be good... But you wouldn’t be. It’s in your blood. It’s in your shadow. It’s right in under your nails and the fact is that we, I classify myself as a monster as well, will never get it out.


But we can’t back out now... After all, you know what they say; ‘Spare the rod and ruin the child.’

Ms Barnes stood and tightened the ends of the bags, cutting off the precious air that had been keeping her audience alive. Their eyes twitched and stared until finally, they stopped, staring out sightlessly into the dark woods.

‘Rest easy though kids, I’ll keep going till they catch me,’ she smiled, picked up the joint butts and placed them in her pocket. ‘After all, this is the only time I really feel alive anymore.’

Ms Barnes stood, whistled for Roger to come back to her and then, as he burst through the darkness and into the circle of light, she continued on her walk through the woods.


Monday, 28 October 2013

Music Monday: It's Been Too Long.

It's been some time and I'm very busy but I think tonight we need some tunes laid down. So, before you are five songs that are only really linked by being prominent in my week. Not much of a link but I think you'll like four of them ;-).

Lets kick off with the obvious shall we...

Lou Reed died this week. I wasn't a die hard fan. I didn't know all of his songs or ever see him live. I didn't bang on about how amazing he was (though he obviously was) and so I won't go on about the loss to the world. He was seventy one, a pretty good innings for someone who'd seen so much of both the light and the dark that this world has to offer.

For me, Perfect Day is the way to go. I'm a huge cinema fan and obviously the Trainspotting scene that featured his song was a stunning and harsh piece of film making. Incredible stuff.

Perfect Day...

I was having a random chat with a mate on twitter, @jscoltrane , when I put up a song. As I did it I remembered how it was meant to be the first dance at my wedding to the wonderful @mamacrow, but the D.J didn't have it. He had a close second in the form of 'Wonderful World', but it wasn't quite perfect.

When we have a party to celebrate a milestone we'll get this on, like we should have had in the first place.


Right, the next one is a strange one. I've come to a point where I understand that the main character in the book I'll write in November has questionable taste in music, at best. This will hopefully bring some levity, though I have no idea how light the project will be yet.

Have to wait and see really. Still, this is perhaps the kind of thing he quite enjoys...

I know...

Right, distancing myself from this questionable decision above I look for some credibility and find it's all hiding. I am however having my brain torn in about twelve directions. I'm finishing a second edit on book two, considering edits on book one (I strongly feel this would be a step backwards but my brain won't let it go), have book three waiting to have a first, comprehensive edit and am about to start book four, which is to be written over the Nanowrimo month.

Brain is in total fluff mode. Not only that but obviously we have the preparation for Christmas, one of my oldest mates is getting remarried and his stag do looms and I am, painfully, coming to terms with the truth of employment. It's clear no more plastering work will come my way in this last quarter of the year.

Not only that but the council are chasing us for cash they gave us when we needed it, but now want back, which isn't how I understood it worked. The fact that we've been living pretty basic to avoid drawing any more benefit than the absolute minimal is a further mouthful of spit in the face, but fuck it. It's cool. I can hold the debt collectors off and argue my case with the local arseholes and maybe, just maybe, inject some sanity into the situation. I know I can but It's another drain on an overstretched brain that wasn't working too well in the first place anyway.

Add all this up and it means I'm pretty fucked.

Oh well. These things are sent to try us and I found Sinatra a welcome guest in my ears today. He was telling me to hold the course and just keep doing what I'm doing. I will endeavour to listen...

Lets play out with a song from an album I've been living with for the last year shall we? Last years Nanowriomo book was written to many songs, and over a long period of time, but this one is so linked to it in my brain that I can't hear it without seeing my character and feeling the story I've weaved around him.

This ones for The Voice...


I can't wait to set the book free and see if it can capture people as it did me, at the same time I dread saying goodbye.


Nah, probably pretty normal, right?

Thanks for reading and listening and maybe see you next week... If I'm not snowed under.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Where The Magic Happens... My Writing Hole.

A while ago I was chatting with someone on Twitter and the subject was of writing space and post-it walls was brought up. I said I'd stick a post up but to be honest it's taken me ages. I tend to say, 'yes', and I fully intend to do whatever it is I've agreed to but the fact is... I need nagging.

It's not really because I'm an arsehole, or that I don't mean to do what I say I'm going to, it's really not. It's just that between the kids, the house, the writing and the worry of making the bills I just plain forget. Sometimes I remember that I need to do something and totally forget who I was going to do it for and so the point drifts into the mists and I don't end up delivering.

Not this time!

So, here it is. Some shots from behind the scenes.

Q: Where do I write?

I write in solitude. I have to be alone, have to be. It's not because I write naked, or because I wear a huge animal costume, or I need to channel my inner Disney and so pop on my favourite adult sized princess costume, Nope. It's because I'm easily distracted. If someone is moving in my peripheral vision then I can't get in the zone. If someone starts talking while I'm hitting a good vein of thought then I just want to rip their head off. In short; I'm a grumpy twat that needs to be left alone.

Out in the big wide world there are all these people wandering about, talking and moving and doing things, things that distract me. Not good. So I head up to the top of the house and hide in the bedroom. There isn't enough room in there for a desk and the dryer is going half the time but it's my cave. The bed is where I hammer out the words and as it can be a bit of a pain on the old back I hope I won't write on the bed forever. I hope to get in a study at some point. A place where I can hang posters and post-it boards and have a window with a nice view that can be concealed with a blind on the days I need the world to fuck off.

Q: Do I use post-it boards?

The simple answer is both yes, and no. I tend to take an idea and keep it in my head. Over a long period of time I develop the idea, life seeping into all aspects of it, shaping the characters and events. I take a notebook and I make notes on all of the story, characters, events, the general theme, ideas for music; the works basically.

That notebook is the story's shorthand. The broad sweep is in my head and after about a years time I convert all the thinking time into words. Thinking time is immeasurably important, but by that I don't mean time devoted to me and the notebook. I mean time spent washing up, listening to the right music; the music I'll write the piece to. It's time spent chewing food and staring out of the window, it's time spent not really watching t.v but more staring at the screen while my brain does anything but watch the t.v.

Finally, when I have music, thought, emotion, notebook, time, theme, character and the bottle to start... I start. At some point there is a need to organise the thoughts because the notebook isn't ordered logically. It's in sections, sure, but it's not logically laid out. When this moment comes I place the post-it notes up if I need them.

I didn't use a post-it board for 'Blank Canvas' mainly because it was a far more internalised story. For the second book (completed, test read, hard copy edited and now being cleaned) I needed a place to collect names and build timeline and structure. It's nearly twice as long as the first book and so I needed a place where I could stand and stare at the timeline to make sure obvious gaps weren't missed and events were recorded as needed.

Book three I was keeping as secret as possible, even from some people in the house. Was that because I wasn't sure of the story? No. I think I was worried because it represented a change in style, a switch to one I'm not as confident with and so I felt the need to keep it internalised. Was that to protect the story or to protect my shortfalls? Really not sure.

Q: What do you listen to when you write?

I used to try and write to music that inspired certain moods in me. Soundtracks from films I loved, never using anything with lyrics in case it disrupted my concentration, that sort of thing. The shift in attitude came when I started writing Blank Canvas and I realised that I didn't want to capture someone else's vibe, I wanted my own one!

I switched to soundtracks of films I'd never seen, by composers I loved. I could feel their magic but I wasn't bleeding into someone else's visual, or narrative. I found Blue-Grass Blues and worked to albums with lyrical content for the first time ever. It wasn't the words that I wanted, it was the feeling that the words inspired in me.

Saying all of that I did use the soundtrack to the film Solaris, by Cliff Martinez. It was the vibe I wanted and it was from a film I loved and so that broke all the rules, and yet I found it helped me plug into my own story and so I went along with it.

I think it worked out quite well.

Since then I have a strict rule that I have to find new music for each book. Each project has to have it's own soundtrack, made up of multiple albums, that capture multiple moods. I am allowed to use some music I know, some soundtracks that I've seen the films for, so long as I've spent time imprinting my own story onto it prior to writing.

This fusion of sound that I both know, and don't, helps me to create a new feeling, a new story. I can be influenced by external forces so long as I am not allowing it to affect the whole work.    

In the end I'm a firm believer in doing it 'your way', not 'their way.' Getting advice is awesome and it's fab that there are so many writers willing to pass a bit of wisdom around, but nothing beats going on instinct. I write in the day because I want this to be my job and I only write in the night when my day job has stamped on my daylight writing time. I stay hidden and control my environment, I squirrel away ideas and leave them in the cold earth, waiting with excitement for the time that I have to dig them up and make use of them.

Many writers use programs to help them organise their thoughts and ideas, make life easier in the edit process and keep track of exactly what happens and when. I don't. I found I couldn't make the tech work for me and so I spent time fighting with it rather than writing. As soon as I realised it was getting in the way it was gone. I went back to notebooks, hours spent washing up and being the world's worst conversationalist because I really and truly wasn't listening.

I'm not being rude, I'm just not really there. Brain is elsewhere.

So, a few pictures, a few words on writing and I think that's me done. A firm believer in muddling through, sticking with the chase no matter where it leads you and doing it your own way, no matter how that way manifests itself.

I write what I want to write, when I want to write it, how I want to write it.

"Start early and work hard. A writer's apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he's almost ready to begin. That takes a while."

- David Eddings.

I took it that he meant that through those million words you'd make the mistakes you needed to make, slog through the doubts and worries, and come out as someone able to express themselves on page. That's cool. For some people it's going to take longer and for some it will be shorter. The natural will shave hundreds of thousands off that I'm sure and the ones that it comes hard to will have to face a few hundred thousand more than that magic million.

Thinking about it I figure all the words you write must count towards that figure, after all you have to learn to write, have to learn to form words, how to use them, their meanings, all that jazz. That must be part of your journey. Using those words in more and more complicated ways until someone turns and says, 'that was good!'

I'm not confident on my vocabulary, I'm not confident about my skill with words, I'm not confident that I'm that naturally talented word-smith that I'd like to be. If you asked me about my strengths I'd tell you I know my characters. That I can make an emotional connection and build a story that grips, has soul and also works towards a natural ending.

I think I've done my million words now, so I look forward to my next million.

Bring them on baby!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The joke about the Daily Mail reader...

There's this joke about the Daily Mail readers and perhaps it isn't true of all of them, but it seems from where I stand that it is indeed the case...

There's these four people sitting at a table, a table full of biscuits. In fact, if you have a minute, this pile of biscuits is fucking huge! It's massive! It's got all the favourites in the pile, Bourbons, Custard Creams, Jafa Cakes, Pink waffers, Party rings, Chocolate Chip Cookies, fucking Shortbread... the lot! Plenty of biscuits for everyone!

Now the four people are a Politician, a teacher, a banker and a Daily Mail reader, and they are all fucking famished. Suddenly, the banker leaps forward and hammers into the biscuits! He's stuffing them down his throat and mashing them into crumbs and snorting the motherfuckers! He swallows and swallows and swallows and swallows until finally he sits back, his gut finally full.

Sitting in the middle of the table is one, single, solitary, lonely Party Ring. That's it. The rest is all fucking gone.

The Politician sits forward and taps the Daily Mail reader on the shoulder and whispers...

'That teachers after your biscuit...'

Sadly it's not just the teacher that is after that single biscuit, it's the council worker with two kids and a huge mortgage, it's the guy that's unemployed and on serious hard times and can't catch a fucking break and it's the cancer sufferer who has been given just a year to live but has been told by a group of bastards that she needs a job because she's 'fit to work'.

There were plenty of biscuits for everyone remember, it's just that we are told there weren't.

This feudal system we now try to survive in has seen the common people sent back to being serfs, there to potter and roll in the muck while the lords eat banquets and decorate their wives or husbands with silks.

It's no longer a joke... It's reality.

Monday, 21 October 2013

The Wonder of

Self publishing is a fantastic ride, a wonderful, fulfilling, awesome adventure, and yet realistically the problem of getting the word out about your book can be a real, well, problem. I don't have an agent to line up interviews, make press releases or big me up in public. It's me and some of my friends on twitter and perhaps the odd 'share' on Facebook.
I'm not a natural salesman at all. Did you notice? Yeah. So making the smart moves that would get me a billion downloads of the book is just something I don't do well, hell, I still need to complete another edit on the released book and clean it even further (and I've heard 'The first five chapters were tough to get through' a few times now and so I'm thinking of going back and hitting it with a stick... I don't know though), but anyway.

So it's clear I need help to get my work out there in places where people will see it and then people like @Gary_R_Walker turn up and I just want to skip and jump. Man's a legend!

Gary runs a site called 'Look 4 Books', which champions independent writers and their work and he does it for free! I can't tell you how nice it is to see him flashing up a link to my book on twitter, or for that matter, visiting his site and seeing my work advertised there. Currently my downloads are pretty low and though I am by no means discouraged I do feel that perhaps it isn't going perhaps very well. That's fine, I'm at the start of a long road, but when I do get slightly down it is lovely to know that people like Gary are out there, trying to help the independent small guy stay in the fight.

The link to the site is right here - and I can't thank him enough for putting in the time to feature my book as well as everyone else's too for that matter. I have friends on twitter and Facebook that retweet my book links, and they are awesome, combined with sites like Look 4 Books perhaps I can make my treasure sparkle so more people notice?

It's a pretty decent dream. :-)

Man Walks Into A Bar...

I went to a pub this weekend, I know, I know, crazy right? So I don't drink and I don't smoke and I don't get to the pub because I'm skint... and yet there I was.

In a pub.

It was my brothers birthday, that was the excuse, and he'd made it ten years more than Jesus did. He'd beaten Morrison and Hendrix by sixteen years and so he was having a drink or two... or five, possibly more. Anyhow, I was there, another of my brothers was there as were some of our other mates and all was good.

Then it got slightly weird.

See, I was there, just with our small group and then people started walking past. People I knew. One of my best mates from my site days pulled up a chair at a table nearby and we chatted and he suggested that there may be work at one of the firms I was attached to before. That was good news, though perhaps not a concrete lead still it was a slice of hope. It was great seeing him again and then as the evening went by I saw four more guys I worked with closely on different sites and each one had a nod and grin for me and I felt pretty good.

Icing on the cake was when a drinking buddy from twenty years ago wandered up, pulled up a chair and chatted like it had been five minutes and he'd just been for a slash. Great stuff.

So I didn't drink, I didn't get in trouble and I didn't act disgracefully at all and yet I still had a pretty decent time. Also, because I was sober, we managed to chat politics, jobs, a bit of sport, worked out a 'Scatterpillar' was a bug that lived in your bowl, dinning on your shit and that perhaps the country was almost certainly, totally, and terribly

So it was a pretty good night. :-)

Roses Are Red: Cushion Heaven!

When you open yourself to the idea of chasing a dream, be it writing, acting, becoming a burlesque dancer, an accountant or just getting a better job then I think you open your eyes to what's going on around you and all of a sudden you see others are making their own journeys. Everyone seems to be moving towards some planned goal and I find those people will go out of their way to help you reach yours, not for a kick back, but just because they know reaching out to the future can be tough, lonely and sometimes you get knocked on your arse.

Have I been knocked on my arse yet? No, but if I had been then I know there are loads of people out there that are pulling for me and would help me back up, dust me down and tell me to keep going. In particular there's someone that would be there ready with a cushion, so that when I did land at least I'd be comfortable; the cushion queen @Jomakessix. 

Now Jo has been incredibly busy starting up her own business making Cushions, Bunting, and sewing her socks off and so I figured I'd put a link here so that dozens and dozens of people could see the wonder of her wares and perhaps be tempted to partake. She operates from her twitter feed @madebyrosered and her jazzy website! Right here! 

Having followed her for as long as I can remember being on Twitter I know she's putting all she's got into the business and is currently preparing her Christmas stock. I know I'll be putting an order in... will you?   

I know she's had my back and helped me and so perhaps this may help her. I hope it does. Head there now and check it out! 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Gutter; A World Mental Health Day Post

It's World Mental Health day and I'm here to throw up a short piece of fiction, written today, about mental health.

We are told that one in three people will experience some mental health problems in their lives. Look around you. Count to three. Did you land on your son? Your wife? Your best friend? Boyfriend? Aunt? Odd man at the bar? Yup, you're right, it could be any of them.

It isn't something that happens to only 'weak people'. It isn't something that people should just 'get over'. It's something that people should show some respect, something that they should show compassion over and recognise that if you mock now you may fall later and find yourselves at the hands of the same mocking voices.

You are one bereavement, one accidental blow to the head, one divorce, one sacking, one moment of trauma away from your own personal hell.

Show some compassion, show some love, take the hand that reaches out for you... Next time it could be you...

  It started on a dark and stormy night, as so many stories do. I’d had a skin-full and the walk home was a weaving affair, bumping from lamppost to wall to car and back, traversing the roads I’d walked a thousand times before.

I remember the corner before the road. I remember a light and a whole bunch of noise and then nothing. I woke up in the hospital bed with people milling around me, trying to remain calm while asking me questions. 

It was explained to me over a period of a few days that I’d been found in the gutter with serious head injuries. The police had reports of a man being beaten up in the area and also another report of a hit and run, though they didn’t know which one I was. Perhaps I was the hit and run and had been left to die by a drunk driver or a scared young woman that couldn’t afford to lose the car, or was I a drunk that met the wrong youths and took a king-sized kicking for walking the wrong way home that night?

In the end it didn’t really matter. The point was that the damage was done.

I was told I was lucky, the skull fracture had healed well and I didn’t have any lasting impairments physically so it was best to move on. If only I could have that would have been glorious. But of course I couldn’t.

The deep concussion I suffered when my skull met something far harder than itself altered my brain chemistry. I was told I would experience some problems, but when the Insomnia really took hold it wasn’t just ‘a problem,’ it was something I’d never had experience with before and it sunk in hard and made itself a part of my life. I changed. I felt weary, always listing from one minor sleep deprived cluster-fuck to another until the office had enough of me and found a way to remove me.

I didn’t have the energy to fight them and so away I went and suddenly I was jobless. It had been a good job, one my father was proud of, but now I was unemployed and taking whatever I could to get some sleep. The pills helped for a time but soon I needed higher doses just to get any effect. I took myself off to the doctor and sat before him, dishevelled, desperate, at the end of a road I never thought I’d walk down.

He gave me anti-depressants and sent me on my way.

One afternoon I was round at my parents, Sunday dinner on the table, my sister in attendance when the conversation turned to ‘useless whiners’. I recognised the chat, it was one that we used to have every few weeks. We’d slam the ‘weaklings’ that ‘couldn’t cope’ and dad would add that they should ‘grow a spine.’

I sat listening this time as I hadn’t told them about my depression, how could I? They wouldn’t understand. I left early that day and when I felt the world swallow me and the red letters flowed through the door I knew I couldn’t go to him.

He wouldn’t understand.

When it came to it I had no-one to turn to, no-one that would listen and just say they didn’t care that it had gone wrong and that they would help me. I sat in the bedroom and realised my way out wasn’t the door but the window. So I went and sat there, looking out, watching people walk passed and I realised that I wasn’t important to any of them. No-one had come to visit me in a while, they used to but I started hiding when my mum popped round because I couldn’t let her see me so pathetic and so I would wait for her to go away and then  wish I’d let her in.

I don’t even know why I did that.

I know I’m stronger than this, that I was better than this but as I open the window I know no-one will miss me and this, this window, is now my best friend. My way out. The release my family need.

I lean out and from then its only sky.

Sky... a noise like thunder and then the light.    

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Editor

This is an interesting week for me, I have two of my own novels to edit, and yet I'm proof reading someone else's. Now that's not as mental as it sounds because book three is still cooling down in the waters following it's forging in the imaginations fires and book two is waiting for the final test readers views to come back.

So I'm spending time with another man's pride and joy.

I won't say anything about it but I will say it's bloody good! Good enough to shove me into blogging because I have to tell someone... without telling someone, or else I'll explode.

Now, I know it's been some time but I can tell you that last years Nano project seems to have been a success and I'm hopeful for it's future. First though I have to re-edit it and make sure it's at it's best before I send it off, and then jump straight on and edit novel three, and yet for the moment I'm enjoying someone else's slice of fiction.

I hope I enjoy reading my own as much.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

DfictionL Comp Round Up.

Hi, how have you been? Good I hope? Right shall we get on with it?

Yes, Lets.

So, the writing competition was entered and I have spent some time looking around at the competition (see what I did there) and I have to say it's all a bit good really. I was quite hoping to rock up like Russell Brand at a shagging competition and walk off with it... but instead I'm now sitting in my deckchair watching the stories come in and grinning, because it's nice thinking you're good at something, but it's so much better seeing other people that are great at it and learning from them.

What I thought I'd do is place links here so you can go and read the wonderful myriad of approaches and feelings that these fab people have evoked and then you can go and tell them they are brilliant and treat yourself to a gorgeous clutch of three hundred word stories that will knock your socks off.

There are two entries here...

Here's another...

Another one here (love the blog design too by the way)...

And one from my gorgeous and brilliant wife...

Here's another...(Imaginative aren't I?)

There are others out there I'm sure and I'll do my best to find them and give them a linky here because they really are all very good. Good luck to all and all that jazz!

(sits back in deckchair and waits for the next great entry...)