Wednesday, 31 August 2016

What I Did on my Summer Holidays

New term starting, so I'm handing in my homework. At the start of the summer holiday (the kids', not mine...but they're pretty much the same thing as I'm home-dad) it all went a bit pear-shaped. I've been working on getting my old books out in paperback and audio and wanted to get that job done by September, when I usually start working again. The kids go back to school, I work again. Since school started, it's been that way. Summer, edit. September, write.

But noooo. Uh-huh. Had an actual, bone fide, act of God. Lightning. It knocked out everything, killed the Internet, the television, the PC.

Dead PC. Hard to work with a dead PC. I mourned for a while. I got sad. I lost not only all my work in progress, but the ability to work as I had nothing to work on. I wrote a little longhand, but I hate doing that. It's just doing the same job twice. Insurance takes a while, as does building a PC. The TV is replaced now. The PC is pending, so I'm writing this on a borrowed laptop.

What the hell do you do when you're a writer and you can't write? Go back to what you know.

Carpentry. I built things.

Yep. I spent the summer sawing and screwing. Screws. Putting screws in things. Forget it.

Decorating. Mowing the lawn. The house looks like one of those homes on TV where nice builders come round and clear it all up in a day, and the owners come home and cry because they've had a tough time of it, but also because someone did everything and it didn't cost a penny. It cost us, though, and my wife and I did all of the work and no bugger helped.

Summer holidays suck.

The actual holiday was camping in the Peak District. It rained, then it was hot, then it rained. Like my moods. I like the rain, I hate the heat, because I'm contrary. And it's called the Peak District. Lots of hills. Up a hill, down a hill. I didn't like it. I like wood. I don't get stone.

I did do some work, but only ticking over stuff - emails, short stories, arranging contracts and narrators for audiobooks. Not entirely wasted...just not what I like doing.

Molly King will be reading 'The Dead Boy', Lee David Foreman will be reading 'RAIN', and Chris Barnes will be reading 'A Stranger's Grave'. I'll upload samples of each when I figure out how to do it...

In short, I did all the things I needed to do that I wouldn't have done unless lightning struck. Will it help progress my writing 'career'? Maybe. Probably not. But it's like jobs you put off - they play on your mind until you do them. Now I have less playing on my mind. I'm clear to finish off a big editing job (all the Rythe books). Clear to write again when that's done, too, which I really like the sound of.

I haven't progressed in writing (the measure of this, for me, is earnings. I think). But that lightning forced a line through a lot of old stuff hanging over me, and paved the way for some kind of fresh start. While I knew I needed that for a long time, being forced into it was probably the neatest and best way for it to happen.

Summer holidays still suck. I thought getting hit by lightning sucked, too, at first. Turned out it was just what I needed.

Anyway, that's my homework done. Back to school.

Love you.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Bad Apples 3

Released: Sept 6th 2016

A teaser for this, Bad Apples 3. I'm proud to be part of this, with a group of writers I like an awful lot. It's nice to be asked. 

Here's a snippet of my story, 'October's End':

Harvey cleared his throat. He didn't want to speak, but it was a ritual they had every year.
            'It's Halloween tomorrow, grandmother.'
            'Is it, dear?'
            'Yes. I was thinking I might go out.'
            'Trick or treating, dear? Aren't you a little old for that?'
            I wasn't always old for that, he thought. But this was one of the many things he would never say. Not any longer.
            'I would like to. To see the leaves fall. Play with my...friends.'
            They're all dead now. Can you play with dead friends?
            'Oh, Harvey. But it is Halloween. I'm so very old. When the children come, you'll need to answer the door for me. I might have a fall myself.'
            Every year, grandmother had a reason. Perhaps for the first ten years Harvey argued, but he truthfully did not remember how long ago that was. Now, he was a far meeker boy. One with grey wisps of hair and thin, fragile bones.
            'Yes, grandmother,' he said.
            There might be a reason the house was called October's End, but he knew it never did, and never would, and names and houses and old ladies all lied...

That's your lot. I remember Halloween. Not the day, or trick or treating, but the spirit of it. I remember Creep Show, and Elvira, but mostly that vibe - horror that made you smile. I think that's why I wrote this. I hope you like it, and the rest of these slices of horror. 

Love you,
The Shed.