October shenanigans & BristolCon

Time flies and is never available in sufficient quantities when most desired.

Things are happening in my life. Not all of it good and not all of it I’m willing to share here, but stay with me and find out about the fun stuff.

I will be reading a story at the “Tales from the Graveyard“, which is a literary event of spooky stories presented to you by the North Bristol Writers as part of the Bristol Festival of Literature. It will take place on 19th October at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol with a start date of 7pm. The event requires tickets, so go, friend, go! Get one!

So that’s 19th. Then, on the 28th, there’s the famous BristolCon, taking place at Double Tree Hotel in Bristol. The program for it has been released now and I’m happy to report that my name appears on it twice. First, I will take part in panel discussion about languages in science fiction and later on I will host a workshop helping you write that perfect dialogue. So don’t be shy, pop along.

I’m obviously super excited and moderately anxious about running the workshop, but I know there will be ample amount of time during the day to catch up with friends in the bar. The full program can be found here and as always, there are far to many things I’d like to see/attend at once.

In the meantime, I leave you with something for the ear. Or two. Because tradition and all…

First, a piece of Mongolian folk metal, because why not. And on top of that it has throat singing.

Second is something slightly different and a bit more… jumpy with a very lively video. Enjoy!

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Wrapping noodles round ears

You might wonder, after reading the above title, if I’ve gone completely bonkers. And regardless of the fact that it might just be the case, I’ll try to make some sense. The phrase is a translation of a Polish saying, which basically means to talk lengthy. And why do I tell you that? Well, it’s something of a warning. Few things have happened since my last post that I would like to tell you about. It might take me few words so bear with me.

First of all, I’d like to tell you about an exciting project my friend is coercing me to take part in. It’s a brand new radio show, that will air on Frome FM and will feature speculative fiction authors. It will be a melange of interviews, music and readings meant to promote authors known and unknown. When? Not entirely sure yet. We haven’t picked the date up yet and we’ll likely record a session or two before going live to have a backup in case life happens. But I’ll keep you posted.

Secondly, I read. Publicly. It was, as always, a slightly scary experience. Especially that there were people in the audience. Living people. More than two dozens of them, might I add. True, the crowd was there mostly due to the fact I was reading alongside this year’s Clark’s nominee, the lovely Emma Newman. It always amazes me that after nearly two decades of dj’ing experience, role playing, LARPing and hosting radio shows, once I stand there with a piece of my own writing, I turn into a stuttering mumbler. That being said, the crowd was kind, didn’t escape and stayed for the Q&A session as well. If you’d like to have a listen to myself, Emma or even both, head over here. Post some comments if you wish and hopefully I’ll see you next time.

SPOILER ALERT – the following might give you unwanted insight into pieces of pop-culture.

Now, I know I mostly share “writerly” stuff, but I’d like to ramble a bit about the products of culture I have recently consumed. First of all, let me explain something. I rarely have time to sit down and watch something in peace or read a book in other locations than the toilet or just before I fall on my face at 2am. There are various reasons for that but only one outcome – a huge delay with my ‘to watch’ and ‘to read’ piles. Excuses, I know. Anyway, me and wife finally managed to scrape up some time to see few of the movies we were putting off for later. First of them was “The Arrival”, based on a short story by Ted Chiang. And let me tell you, it was so far the best sci-fi film I’ve seen this year. The visuals were great, the story was fantastic and the acting was good as well. Call me weird but two things really got me in this movie. It’s a story of alien contact/possible invasion (at least as seen from the human point of view) yet there are no epic battle scenes, even though there was potential to show some. It is also a love story, with tangible tension between the main characters but *SPOILER ALERT* there are no sex scenes present. Hell, we need to wait for the kiss almost the entire movie. It’s intelligent and moving, sometimes funny and rather hints things than hits you in the face with them. Summing up, I you haven’t yet, watch it. It’s well worth your time.

Now the other two were slightly more disappointing. The first was Independence Day: Resurgence (not to be confused with Independents Day or Independence Daysaster – yes, there are movies with those titles…). We sat down hoping to get a good run for the money, what with modern special effects and mature Jeff Goldblum. Unfortunately, it was a disappointing couple of hours. Sure, the visual side was ok (though nothing I would really want to watch again), the story, however… my God, was it boring! I’m not even going to touch on the amount of paper thin tropes that were used to prop up the plot. I managed to dose off for a minute during the culmination scene which is something that just does not happen. Ever. All in all it was a disappointing experience, which leads me to the last home-viewed movie I wanted to share thoughts about.

The “Jupiter Rising”. Yes, I know it’s “old” and there possibly isn’t anything new I can tell you about it. Especially that I had mixed feelings about it. I enjoyed the visual side of it. The ships anyway. They were a nice, decadent, artistic in vision that appealed to me and, for one reason or another, brought to mind Enki Bilal’s “Nikopol” trilogy. That being said, the aliens… I mean, c’mon! I could swallow the winged dinosaurs and happy-faced androids, hell, even the Mickey Mouse assistant to one of the royals, but for the love of Thor, what was Bambi doing there, flying the cop’s space ship?! The story was also a bit… call it simplistic. But halfway down the film we’ve stopped (because kids…) and talked about it with wife and quickly realised this movie was made for teenagers. This made the dialog and some of the plot pot holes easier to bear. Still, I’m not sure if I want to recommend it to anyone. I suppose if you want to see some funky ship designs and have time to waste, you could do worse.

Finally, there’s “Ghost in the Shell”. As a sideline, can I tell you we have an amazing cinema in Frome? Yes? Well, I just did. Anyway, I’ve seen some negative opinions on the movie (some of them very idiotic indeed). People moaned it didn’t have the full original soundtrack, the actress wasn’t Asian (which actually was as in the anime) and so on. But personally I think it was a good adaptation. The acting was superb, the visuals didn’t disappoint and Batou in my opinion looked just perfect! Speaking of soundtrack, during the movie it was nicely non-intrusive and I thought that using the main theme from the anime as a closing song was a brilliant idea. Especially to people who, like me, knew and loved the original work. It made me want to go home and watch it again. It worked.

Oh, and I almost forgot. I stumbled across a platform called Dust recently, which hosts sci-fi short films. This one I liked quite a lot even though the story could be made better. Check it out and check the other ones as there’s loads to discover there.

So, there you are. I better shut up now and leave you with something for the ear in anticipation for the next post, which will hopefully appear a bit sooner. First is something I used as one of the background songs when I wrote “Curiosity is the first step” story. The second is just a nice piece of 90’s trance.

And remember, you can always say hello in the comments. I usually don’t bite.

 

An open Letter to the 498 MPs who voted for Article 50

Yeah. I don’t usually blog political stuff but that…. That pretty much sums it up!

The Great British Moronathon

Dear Morons,

So you’ve done it then. To show a small number of little-englander xenophobes that they should vote for you instead of UKIP, you’ve shot your own country and its population in the fucking face  (Note: they won’t vote for you anyway).  You’ve taken one look at the right wing press and a handful of crackpots threatening rioting in the streets, cacked your pants, and sold the people, your people, down the river.

Labour MPs (apart from the rather heroic 47 who put their conscience and country before their frankly nuts party), you’ve handed the most right-wing Conservative government ever a blank cheque to enact the most painful Brexit possible.  Of course, it won’t be you who suffer, but your constituents, so that’s okay, no? Is it perhaps that the bigger the shit-fest May makes of it, the more you think Labour can capitalise? Or is it because you…

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A nice mention from Nash. Take a look, and while you’re there, read his stuff. You won’t get disappointed.

Eric Nash

this-twisted-earthMore news from the Nameless Writing Group although rather belated. Piotr Świetlik’s short story, Curiosity Is A First Step, has been published in the anthology, This Twisted Earth, by Six Minutes To Midnight, a division of Great British Horror. The anthology was launched this year at FantasyCon.

Nice one, Piotr!

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News from the Nameless Writing Group

Stealing this one. Congratulations to B!

Eric Nash

Congratulations to B Anne Adriaens, poet, writer and member of the Nameless Writing Group who has made her first publication. The transatlantic webzine and online publisher of dystopian poetry, flash fiction and photography, The Bees Are Dead, has featured Miss B’s poem, CWM. Here’s what they said about it:

“This prosaic poem offers an unrelenting and vivid exposition of abandoned Welsh industry. 

Adriaens takes us by the hand and pulls us through a rusting forest of steel; her descriptions confessing a strange base excitement amidst the unheimlich, intertwining context of the natural and mechanical. 
From an objective point of view, the scenes within this poem could be that of a suburban love story, but via our narrator’s sensory stream of consciousness, we are treated to a speculative glimpse of the post-apocalyptic…”

And here’s the link to CWM.

Way to go, B!

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Publication and other deathly creatures

A lot has happened in the last months, therefore my apologies to those few who visit here for keeping quiet.

Life is a strange thing. As is creativity. You can mill over a question in your head, a half formed idea and then just like in a cheap comic book, k-pow, in a middle of an unrelated sentence, halfway down a coffee cup or in a middle of a shower, the complete answer pops into reality. Sometimes. Other times it’s like pulling a millstone on your own – hard and with little visible result until you gather the dust and make bread. The months that has passed from my previous post were a full mixture of both of above.

14369911_715467695272365_5394313979286190288_nThe coming months will also be full of events and work.  Some of it, might even interest you (win
k, wink). Firstly, there is this big event called Fantasycon-by-the-Sea in Scarborough this weekend, which I will be attending. And I would not usually share it with you if not the fact that I will be present at a launch of “This Twisted Earth” anthology published by Six Minutes To Midnight, which contains my rather long short story. It goes without saying that I am really pleased to be published next to the fine authors listed in the table of contents. Things like that give me a kick in the back side and make me think that perhaps all of this was not a mistake after all.

Anyhow. The event will take place at 1pm Sat 24th, so stop by, grab a glass, chat, perhaps even get a scribble if you’ve bought a copy. The volume will be available at the con or via Amazon here. And… oh what the hell! Paraphrasing LMFAO’s lyrics, I’m thrilled and I want you to know it. We’ve already received some nice reviews on Goodreads. Check them out here. So, Saturday, 1pm, got it, right? See you there.

Moving on. As I said, this is an autumn full of pleasant happenings. I have managed to grab some tickets to see Jean Michel Jarre’s concert in Cardiff for myself and Magda, which was an item on the bucket list to be ticked and a childhood’s dream fulfilled.

Following galavanting in Caerdydd, I will be reading an excerpt from a new short story during the Egyptian event in Bristol Museum’s Assyrian Gallery. Ancient deities and science fiction will be combined for your entertainment, so come along. The event is part of Bristol Festival of Literature, it’s free and details about it can be found here.

And last but not least, I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of you during this year’s BristolCon, which will take place 29th October. I’m not on any panels this year (overslept with the participation form) so should have plenty of time to catch up with friends. And if there really are any gods of wine and tits and roleplay, make them hear my prayer and make them bless the gaming evening!

Traditionally, let me leave you with something for the ear. Or both. Jaromir Nohavica in a Czech blues and Kaminanda in atmospheric piece with flutes.

 

Good News – Art of Forgetting : Rider Now FREE on Kindle!

Here’s an exciting offer to grab Jo’s book for free. Check it out and spread the word further.

Joanne Hall

Good news, everyone!

For a strictly limited period (approximately the next 48 hours) The Art of Forgetting : Rider will be available for FREE (nothing, zip, nada, squat!) on Amazon Kindle. You can download it now!

Art-of-Forgetting-Digital-even-lower-resWe’re really hoping to get a lot of downloads out of this so the book can reach as wide an audience as possible, and pick up some new readers. So please, download it if you can. If you’re already downloaded it or you don’t do Amazon (I know some of you don’t, and I respect that) then tell your friends about it, tweet and retweet about it using #lgbt or #fantasy or even #freebooks (or all three if you have the space), share on Facebook or your own platforms. Let’s see if we can crack that elusive Amazon top ten!

Edited to add – Sammy has just told me that AOF : Rider…

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Night lights

I lost a friend today. He died few days ago but I’ve only found out today, blurring the then and now line. I’m left empty, sad, angry, but mainly I still cannot believe he’s gone. The surreality of the fact is too overwhelming.

He was one of the kindest people I’ve met since my migration to this country. I’ve only crossed paths with David couple of years ago, during one of the sci-fi pub meets and liked him from the start. We shared a few long conversations finding out our interests and tastes overlapped greatly, still leaving enough space for each one to be able to surprise the other.

I had not known David as long, or as well as I would have liked it, and here lies the main source of my anger. I egoistically feel robbed of his bright intellect, of the twisted corners of his sense of humour and the company of a person with whom I shared more things than not.

He was a person I looked up to, admired and respected for his cheerful relentlessness in pursuing his dreams, which were so close to my own. He was a great writer and a lovely human being and I will miss him. He inspired me and gave me confidence and faith in my abilities. I hope will rest in peace and that the rest of us will not forget him.

There is a beautiful piece of dialogue that I will quote, risking sounding like a pompous ass:
“I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we’ve exchanged. Long after we are gone, our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit that the part of me that is going will very much miss the part of you that is staying.”

I know he did like the first piece of music below and I think he would have enjoyed the second one as well.

Farewell David J Rodger, the part of me that is staying will very much miss the part of you that has left.

Frome, Bristol and other ungodly places

A lot has happened since my last entry here, so I will try to recap the most interesting points.

Firstly, I’ve managed to sell a flash piece to the ‘365 tomorrows’ e-zine. It’s a wee little piece inspired by Popol Vuh, Zelazny and lack of sleep. If you wish to spend a brief moment of your life reading it, it’s available here.

Now, with that out of the way, let me tell you about a great literary evening I’ve attended in July during Frome Festival. It was organised by the Frome SF Group (yes, I am a member) and featured readings from a lot of local and slightly less local authors, including David J Rodger. He did a nice entry about it here. There are some pictures (in no particular order) available, so feast yer eyes.

Eric Nash

Eric Nash

Justin Newland

Justin Newland

John Walton

John Walton

Andy Bigwood

Andy Bigwood

B Anne Adriaens

B Anne Adriaens

David J Rodger

David J Rodger

Piotr Świetlik

Piotr Świetlik

After that, the holidays happened (they do have a tendency to creep up on one) and I was lucky enough to be off and away for three weeks. Return to the real world was somewhat painful but it was quickly sweetened by the fabulous BristolCon. It has been my fourth appearance and as always I enjoyed it immensely. The event is steadily growing each year, which is both good and bad. Good, because the quality and interest from the fandom are increasing; bad because the more people come, the harder it is to catch all of them within a space of a day as well as attend panels, view artists room and check what the dealers are offering. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it and managed to catch up with some friends from as fas as London whilst managing to meet some new ones. The only disappointment was that the gaming evening to which I was looking to, didn’t happen. But well, will make it up next year!

Since I’ve covered most of the events between March and November (the interesting ones anyway), let me tell you about something that is about to happen. It is with great pleasure that I can say I will be reading my work as part of the North Bristol Writers group during the Sanctum. Don’t know what the Sanctum is? Despair not, my friend. Check the link instead. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to publicise our timed slots, but if you know me (in ‘real’ life, through Facebook or other), there’s a good chance you’ve already received a pestering message from me inviting you to the exact time and date to listen to me ramble to the microphone. If not, let’s get acquainted. As you can imagine, I am thrilled to be reading there and really looking forward to it.

And that is, as they say, it. For now anyway. There is more to come pretty soon, so hope you’ll stay with me and I promise to update things a little more frequently. To keep a tradition going, have a listen to the superb Kayla Scintilla’s ‘Light of the North’, as mentioned in David’s post.

Expect me, when you see me 😉

The FWC – Who are you? Blog Hop

fwc-logo

The FWC – Who Are You? Blog Hop is a chance to visit the online homes of many of the talented members of the Collective and learn a little more about who we are. The Collective, and unfortunately Eric beat me to pointing the connections with the infamous Borg, is a wonderful idea made flesh. I have lived in Frome for a decade without realising how many people involved with literature live here too. So if you’re a writer, illustrator, poet, editor or publisher – be warned, YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED!

I was kindly nominated by Eric Nash, who’s entry can be found here: https://eanash.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/the-fwc-who-are-you-blog-hop/ Read it, it’s good.

Done? Ready? Let’s roll then.

Frome Writers’ Collective is home to a range of writers, poets, illustrators, editors, and publishers. Which one best describes you?

Writer. I usually write technology rich science fiction, though have occasionally veered off towards fantasy. To make it even more confusing, my first story ever published in English was a steampunk adventure. So there you go. I’m fascinated by weird physics theories and progress in genetics, which is why there usually is one or the other present, or both. In this form or that, or… Yeah, I tend to go on. I like to mix fantasy and science-fiction elements with various mythologies, which might be caused by my love for the works of Roger Zelazny. He influenced me for good or bad and I would not change that. Mainly because, if I was different I would not be myself. And I am myself. Or am I?

What are you working on at the moment?

Edge of sanity, which is a short story containing swords and elements of Cthulhu Mythos, Polish professors and alien ninjas. I originally started writing if for a particular anthology but unfortunately didn’t made the deadline.  The Nameless Writing Group is, as always, providing critique, guidance and occasional kick in the back side, so I’m hoping to find home for it soon.

Not quite what I've imagined but the main two elements are here. Seen on https://cacodaemonia.wordpress.com

Not quite what I’ve imagined but the main two elements are here. Seen on https://cacodaemonia.wordpress.com

I’m also working on the first draft of my first novel, which will be a sci-fi murder mystery.

Jack London said that “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Would you agree?

As one of my character’s like to say ‘there’s a bipolar answer to that question’. My inspirations comes from such wild collection of incidents and accidental experiences (not least of them the famous thing called “Shower”) it’s hard to say I’ve really looked for them. Pretty much everything I see or experience inspires some more or less random strand of thoughts. Some of them make it to the page, though most just clutter my brain. Sometimes, if I’m struggling with a particular scene I use graphic or even musical stimuli to get my head to where I need it to be.

Staring at a blank page can be daunting. How do you get from brain to page?

I hardly ever face the dreaded “blank page” situation. I mostly start writing when there is something in my head I want to write about. Which is the case almost always. If it’s a new story, I tend to write down the first thing about it that comes to mind, whether it’s a dialogue or just a simple description of a place. Then I either let it fly on its own or think and tinker with the idea until I like what I see. Quite often there is some research involved, but usually the stories more or less gradually just pop into my head. There is a quote by one of my favourite authors, Phillip K Dick which I think describes it quite well: “The SF writer sees not just possibilities but wild possibilities. It’s not just ‘What if’ – it’s ‘My God; what if’ – in frenzy and hysteria. The Martians are always coming.”

P K Dick

This is not me

You’ve finally stopped procrastinating and you’re ready to get creative or tackle that manuscript. Have you a particular place where you like to work?

Once upon a time there was an armchair. In its youth it served people proudly, but as it grew older its owners put it out for an auction, which hurt the feelings of the armchair profoundly. (If you don’t believe furniture can have feelings… why are you reading this?!) It stayed in the auction house hurt and abandoned, shedding dead mites and thinking about retirement, until it has been bought by a young man, naive and ignorant of certain things. He gave the armchair a good wash, repaired the small tears and sat in it every evening. The armchair quickly grew to like his new master and became a perfect lair for his musings and occasional nap. They lived happily ever after.

I also tend to write wherever and whenever I can focus enough. In the kitchen, on a train, at work… A necessity caused by having a full-time occupation, wife, kids, dog, fish and occasional visiting aliens.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check Eric’s entry and hop to the virtual homes of:

Crysse Morrison at http://www.crysse.com/

I’m a free-lance writer with a patch-work portfolio of experience from novels and short stories to performance poetry ~ you can see samples of various aspects of my work here. I live in Frome, southwest UK, and currently my passion is stage drama, both as a playwright and reviewer.  I also enjoy involvement in Frome’s poetry cafe, pub theatre, and summer festival, and am open for contact about writing from community projects or individuals.

and Doug Hilditch at www.dhilditch.blogspot.com

For over 20 years I worked in the printing and publishing industries doing everything from proof-reading and copy editing to book production consultancy for most of the leading UK publishers. I left publishing to set up my own business as a freelance technical illustrator which I ran successfully for 14 years. I am currently employed as a fraud investigator. For the last 10 years, my beautiful wife Tess has been my biggest fan and critic and her help and encouragement has spurred me on. I have currently written five novels, numerous short stories and have recently rekindled my love for humourous verse.

Their posts will appear on Sunday 22nd – don’t forget to check them out!