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New titles

OK, screw it. I may be getting a little over-ambitious, but these are the working titles I’m currently on. And I’ll get one of them out this year. For sure.

Tales from the Darkness – Vol. 2 (Short stories, with a slightly fantastical take)

Tales from the Darkness – Vol. 3 (Short stories, with a more fantastical take)

The Rise of the Tenth Throne (Fantasy, set in the aftermath of the Godslayer Wars. A new threat rises from the bodies of the fallen gods). First in the Tenth Throne Trilogy.

The Path of the Alothi (Sci-Fi, set in the far future. The planet-eating Alothi are working through the known systems, devouring everything in their wake. Whilst the Central Authorities work to evacuate planets, and desperately find sanctuary, a scavenger crew may just have found salvation in the shape of a mysterious survivor).

The Art of The Finish (The importance of the right finishing move for a main-eventer in the perception of the audience)

Blood Will Flow (Horror. When the last survivor of a slasher meets others who’ve been through the same trials, he finds a bigger threat than he could have imagined, and just maybe, a way to stop them all for good).

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Ye gods…

It’s been a year.

No.

OVER a year.

That’s a long time since I last came here. I suppose I should be a little more active, eh? Dust off the corners. Plug things back in. Crank up the generators. See if that thing in the corner has achieved sentience yet.

OK. Well, it’s been busy. I have kids (definitely my favourite go-to excuse. A great reason to get out of anything I don’t want to do). A full-time job. Distractions. Yes, I know. I should be writing. And I am. Just not as much as I should, nor with the passion I had.

It’s hard.

I tried to get another group compilation off the ground, only to be met with initial enthusiasm followed by general apathy.

I’ve tried to get writing myself for myself, and I’ve struggled with concentration. I have dozens of short stories which have started, but only a few of which have begun. I have a fantasy trilogy which is epic and wonderful in my head, and fairly well sketched out. I have a sci-fi trilogy, which is epic and wonderful in my head, and pretty well sketched out. I have a wrestling book, which I’m really struggling to put together, but is more of a passion project. And I have a slasher/horror movie homage book, which I’m really enjoying, but I’m struggling to get any real time for.

And that’s the hardship. Time.

I wrote Clown when I was living on my own, and I could concentrate a bit more, solidly churning out work. I wrote In The Mourning with a wife and son, when he was old enough to entertain himself.

Now? Now, I have a wife, three sons (the eldest needing a major hand with his studies, the middlest going to pre-school, the youngest just a toddler – they all need and deserve attention. And, quite frankly, they’re going to get it as a priority!), a full-time job (with another on the way, which will eat up more of my time), a reading list longer than my arm, a Playstation with a queue of games (damn you, Fallout! Damn you, Skyrim!), and a house that needs constant work.

So, it’s hard finding the time. It’s hard making the time. It’ll be a few years before the boys are old enough to let me have some dedicated time for me to do what I want to be done.

But I will.

Eventually.

 

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Back again. I promise.

Holy moly. Where have I been?
Just checked the last date of entry, and that’s several months ago. What happened in those days, eh?
Work. Home. Life. Headaches. In no particular order.
Work went crazy busy, but has started to quieten down a little. Not in the quantity of work, but more in the level of support available, which is a good thing. It means my stress levels have reduced, and I have less to take home with me.
We finally had the garage converted, and a driveway installed. We had to really. Some joyriding little twat smashed into my car at 4am one day and totalled it, so we needed to get the driveway done. Unfortunately, the company we used for both weren’t quite as good as expected, and ended up skipping out early, leaving the work on both about 90% done (Hi, O’Hanlon Driveways! Can’t say I’d recommend you to anyone, given that you skipped out and refused to answer/return phonecalls, texts, or emails). So that left a lot of work for me to do, especially during the one time of the year when I had some genuine time to myself.
My little ‘uns have grown up a little. The eldest is nearly ten, the middlest is nearly three, and the littlest has just turned one. Highly demanding, but highly entertaining. All are handfuls, so they keep me busy at home. A typical day involves me getting home, and trying to take them off my missus’s hands, so that she can have some relaxing time herself. Much as we love them, they’re a handful and a half!
Life continues, which is both good and surprising 
I’ve been attempting to get back on with the writing, both individually and as a group. The tales behind HB Peculiar’s gathering will soon be related.
Meantime, I’m determined to get some more writing done.
And I’ll try to swing by here every now and then.
Until then, keep watching the skis.
Skies.
Whatever.

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Ssh.

Ssh.

Go away.

I’m busy. Writing. Or, at least, trying to. So stop trying to distract me. No, seriously. Stop trying to distract me. Just because I’m here, it doesn’t mean I’ve got anything to say.
Well.
That may be a lie. A little lie. A little white lie. But a lie nonetheless. I do have things to say. Plenty to say. Maybe I should stay here and say it.
Because then I’d still be writing.
I’d be writing here, instead of what I should be working on, but I’d be writing nonetheless.
And given that I haven’t been writing properly for a long time, so I’m struggling to get back in the habit, and get back in the flow, to find my voice again, maybe that’s not a bad thing. I’ve tried resuming where I left off, but strangely, it seems I’m struggling with long sentences. Strange, I know. Of all the bad habits to pick up, that’s a weird one. It seems like everything I’m writing is being written in sentences of about six or seven words, possibly for impact. And when I try to change that and put some longer sentences together, it reads a little more clunkily. Is clunkily a word? Can I make it a word? There’s a subject for another day: The introduction of words through usage.
Anyway.
I’m writing, again.

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Busy busy buzz-buzz

Oh, I think it’s safe to say this has been a trying and tiring week. Work has gone ridiculously busy. The garage conversion is almost done, so there’s lots of painting needed to finish it off inside. The youngling is on Summer holidays from school. The younger younglings have been a little ill, a little manic. Some **** (insert your favourite local colloquialism here. If you don’t have one, feel free to choose one of the following: twat, wanker, shagamuffin) decided to smash into my car (thankfully parked, and in the dead of the night), basically writing it off.

And somewhere in amongst all that, I’m trying to get two-three short stories together for the next two volumes in HB Peculiar’s next couple of collections, move my own next short story collection forward, and put together a rough outline for a couple of novels that I’m figuring out.

Oh, and catching up on Game of Thrones. I figure it’s about time!

So, yes. A flying visit here, but peace and love to all!

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Defying Convention

So, it was planned, and thus it was done.

This weekend was our trip to London Film and Comic Convention 2015, and we survived. By the skin of our teeth, but we survived. The queues were long, the temperature hot, the day exhausting. There was much to see and do, and my wallet took a right hammering.

There were some amazing cosplayers, ranging from the subtle (the family doing Mystery Inc.) to the stunning (Predators, Aliens, balloon dinosaur suits, lego figures).

And there were the guests. Aside from the disappointment of cancellations from Charles Dance (work commitments) and Kurt Angle (ill health), we managed a pretty impressive line-up.

Christopher Lloyd first. First thing in the morning, bright and cheerful, a delight to start the day. Whilst queuing for him, we were next to the guests’ refreshment room, so saw a number of them come out. Road Warrior Animal stood out, as he’s freaking huge, and had full face paint. Behind him, hidden by the crowd, a small kid dressed like Rey Mysterio. With the mask. And beard. Rey Mysterio! (He’s a small, small guy).

Next up, Rey Mysterio! Huge queue for him, filled with kids. Rey was late, but an incredibly nice guy, very patient with everyone, polite and friendly. He locked me in a headlock for an awesome pic, and posed with my son.

Then, onto Road Warrior Animal. Smaller queue, older crowd. Animal had brought the gold-plated shoulder pads from SummerSlam ’92, Wembley, and put them on everyone for a pic. He was great for poses, letting people headlock him, and posing to punch my lights out. He won my son’s choice for moment of the day, purely for the shoulder pads.

We had a wander, and found the SyFy channel’s camera set up. A great installation, offering a 360 photo shoot, with some incredible poses and pictures. They provided props, and a great atmosphere. Everyone working there was great at their game. Unfortunately, the queue was just too long and slow, so we had to move on. One to visit when we didn’t have other shoots to do.

Quick trip for a photo with Robert Englund. Considering his age, he has incredible energy and enthusiasm, giving everyone a different pose. And he admired my waistcoat (vest).

Lunch, via a quick trip through the autograph booths to say hi to Tom Savini (lovely chap), John Wagner (miserable), and Robert Rankin (utterly delightful, happy to have a long chat about his books and getting drunk with wrestlers).

Back again, for a shoot with Sigourney Weaver. Long, long queue for that, but a thoroughly lovely, charming, stunning lady. She has one hell of a presence, and easily looks twenty years younger than her age.

Then on to Michael J Fox, who looked thoroughly exhausted and drained, sitting in the DeLorean. Honestly, I felt guilty just taking up his time, as he looked like he was struggling to breathe. I admire his dedication and his career, but my heart went out to him.

And home. Tired, hot, sweaty, broke.

And ready for next year!

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Embracing convention

It seems that no sooner have I resumed blogging than everything goes ballistic in my life. Work is frantic, and shows no signs of immediate relief. The youngest youngling has started teething, and is none too happy about it. The middlest youngling is daddy-obsessed, and determined to join me in everything I do, as long as I do something he wants to do (otherwise he’ll throw a little tantrum). I’m conscious that the eldest youngling should have some time as well, even though he doesn’t demand it, and is generally pretty good.

Add in to that, a grim determination to do some exercise and start running, and I’m generally pretty exhausted. The writing projects I’m working on are taking a (brief) pause for a while.

But, meantime, to keep me going, I’m taking a day tomorrow with the eldest youngling, and visiting London Film and Comic Con 2015. Last year, we went as a family, with the express purpose of meeting/photoshoot with Stan Lee. The venue was overpacked, incredibly hot and sweaty, expensive, and exhausting. The queues stretched for what seemed like an eternity, and we were battered by the whole experience. But it was totally worth it!

This year, I’m going again, and taking just the eldest. We have a different mix of guests to have photos with, and I’m hoping we can meet some of my writing/drinking partners-in-crime inside. Or outside. Or somewhere.

Sadly, two of our guests have already cancelled. Charles Dance, a Lannister and Vetinari, who has cited work commitments. And, particularly disappointing, Kurt Angle (Olympic gold medallist – won with a broken freaking neck), former WWE World Champion, TNA World Champion. We were both keen to meet him, but Kurt has been hospitalised with potentially life-threatening issues. Thankfully he seems to be ok now, and we’d both prefer his health over a photo any day of the week (it’s true, it’s true).

So, instead, we’re “making do” with Road Warrior Animal and Rey Mysterio, former WCW/WWE wrestlers, Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Christopher Lloyd (Uncle Fester, Judge Doom, Doc Brown), Michael J Fox (Marty McFly, Frank Bannister), and Sigourney freakin’ Weaver (Ellen Ripley, Dana Barrett, and countless more).

I am ridiculously excited, and marking/fanboying out big time. There is the distinct possibility of me just mumbling incoherently in front of Sigourney Weaver.

Plus, we’ll do the usual wander round, geek shopping, photo op-ing with the Cosplayers and props, and doing what one normally does. I’m dreading the thoughts of the queues again, especially as early feedback so far is that the same problems are happening again, but still…

I can’t wait. And I’ll be back soon!

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How Bloody Peculiar

One of the things I enjoyed doing between last blog and this was helping to set up H.B. Peculiar, and publishing the first collection of short stories under that name.

Many moons ago, back when Gumtree offered the ability for social groups to advertise and gather, I joined a small(ish) group of geeky types. Self-professed geeky types, with an interest in sci-fi, fantasy, comics, movies, genre stuff, etc. We met on a regular monthly basis, and basically gathered to have a drink and chat, and that was about the sum of it.

The group boasted people of all ages, from all walks of life, with a wide variety of skills, experiences, careers, passions and whatnot. We were, and still are, a welcoming group for strangers.

After getting to grips with the basics of self-publishing, I wanted to do something a little more, and get others involved. I know how easy it is to sit on my hands, knowing that I’ve written something, and not doing anything with it, or lacking the motivation to get up and actually write. So, I spoke with a couple of the creative types at our little gathering, and the germs of an idea came together, for a series of short story collections, spanning different genres and sub-genres, with different challenges, contributors, and formats.

The first collection was an interesting exercise, and I’ll write more about that later. Suffice to say, some of it was painful, some of it educational, some of it delightful, and all of it rewarding. Everything from conception of the “brand”, to deciding the first genre, reading, , critiquing, etc. Great crash course in self-publishing.

But we did it.

How we did it, some of the challenges – choosing the name, working with a group to make decisions remotely, collaborative story telling, etc – I’ll write entries about. But here, I just wanted to say, we did it. I’m proud of what we did.

Anything can be done.

So do it.

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New Beginnings

Times have changed, here in the world of TrueJDK. The last time I had a serious run at blogging, I had just self-published by debut novel, Clown, through the e-publishing route on Amazon. I took the opportunity to share my experiences, and to help support the self-publishing authors by reviewing self-published works wherever I could.

That was a couple of years ago.

In the months that followed setting up that blog, I reviewed a sizeable number of books – finding some absolute gems, an unfortunate number of books that (politely) needed some work, and one genuinely disturbed “author” who proceeded to make a number of death threats. Fun times.

I also made a run of experiments with my book, and shared the results as freely as I could – from the writing, to the marketing, and whatnot. I gave guidance and advice for any who might stumble across my blog.

And then things dried up a little, as life changed. Those changes included, variously, a switch in career, followed by redundancy, followed by several interim roles; the birth of my second son; new career again (now a bit more stable); the birth of my third son; significant works to the house. I spent some time catching up on my regular authors, those I’d missed as I focussed on the self-published writers. Free time was scarce, and hard to find.

However, somewhere in there, between the different jobs, and the joys of raising a toddler and a baby, as well as a growing boy, and the delights of ongoing housework/conversions, I managed to find a little time here and there. I wrote. Not much, but a little.

I was able to gather together a little collection of my own short stories. Hopefully, the first of several volumes. And, I was able to spearhead a little project with some socially creative types, and come up with the HB Peculiar concept, setting off the first volume of shorts under that name.

I’ve done a little rebranding – pictures, covers, and whatnot – of my own. I sadly allowed the truejdk.com url to lapse, and it was poached, by a company currently sitting on it so they can earn some money. Not that they’ll get it from me.

So here I am.

Back again. And hopefully, with a bit more to say.

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