Tuesday 31 January 2012

Spinetingler Award -- Final Voting Day

Today is the last day that you can vote for your favourite novella in the Spinetingler awards. All info and links can be found below (basically a cut and paste job from a previous post). I hope you'll consider voting for my wee book, THE POINT.

I wanted to blog about this earlier but I had an assignment I needed to get done first. And it's now done, so -- DRUMROLL, PLEASE! -- my novella, THE POINT, has been nominated for a Spinetingler Award. Oh, yeah. The little book that could, just did. I'm frickin' dee-lighted. I'm also fully aware that a nomination is as far as it will go. Have a gander at this cluster-feck of insane talent and wonder at the confidence trick I played to get lumped in with them.

California - Ray Banks
Barracuda - Raymond Embrack
Everything I Tell You is a Lie - Fingers Murphy
Every Shallow Cut - Tom Piccirilli
Felony Fists - Jack Tunney
Follow Me Down - Kio Stark
Old Ghosts - Nik Korpon
The Point - Gerard Brennan
Shotgun Gravy - Chuck Wendig
Smoke - Nigel Bird

But hey, I don't mind losing to any one of those guys. All I want to do is go down swinging. So, if you have the time -- and you feckin' do or you wouldn't be reading this, would you? -- Go to the Spinetingler website and throw a vote my way. It only takes one click and you don't have to register for anything or agree to any dodgy terms and conditions. Just clickety-click and you're done. What are you waiting for? If you'd stopped reading a sentence or two ago, you'd be done by now!

Thank you in advance, kind souls.

P.S. Why not buy some or all of the novellas on the list? I know I will. They're there for a reason, like. Purchase links to all of them can be found on the Spinetingler site.

Thursday 26 January 2012

New Review Policy

Last year I began writing shorter reviews to (I had hoped) allow me to produce more of them for the blog. It turned out I averaged about one review a month which represented only a small fraction of my actual reading. And I'm not even sure that the reviews did any real good for the books. So this year, I'm changing my approach again.

One thing that I've found since I released THE POINT and WEE ROCKETS is that the reviews that seem to have the most traction are those on Amazon. Now, this could well be because I'm relying heavily on Kindle sales, but I'm pretty sure that many other writers attach a lot of value to them too. I took a little time to think about whether or not it was 'professional' to review other writers on Amazon and came to the conclusion that most people don't give a feck about that sort of thing. And so, from now on, when the fancy takes me, I'll be reviewing my latest reads on Amazon. But just so the blog still has a bookish element to it, I'll be gathering them up every once in a whole and posting them on CSNI.

My main concern in this endeavour is how seriously people will treat my reviews. I'm not a fan of the 5-star system but that's what I have to work with. Thing is, when I'm reading a book that isn't floating my boat I do this really wacky thing... I stop reading it. So the majority of my reviews are going to be in the 4 and 5 star range. I suppose you could argue that the challenge is getting me to finish reading your book. Then again, most people don't give a feck about this foible either.

So, constant visitors, the latest Amazon reviews:

The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty is one of my favourites. He's a forerunner in the latest generation of Northern Irish crime writers. And this is the book he was born to write. A police procedural featuring a catholic RUC officer set against the backdrop of the 1981 hunger strikes. Talk about ambitious... But McKinty is a master of the craft and he has applied all of his talent to The Cold, Cold Ground.

The writing is electrifying, the characters top notch and his ability to spin a great yarn is enviable. If you want to learn a little about that crazy chapter in Northern Irish history and read an excellent story as well, you need look no further.

Buy this book.

Stolen Souls by Stuart Neville

Stuart Neville brings us back to his dark version of Belfast in the latest Jack Lennon investigation. Set over Christmas, this novel delves into the murky depths of human trafficking in Northern Ireland and the gangs that control it. It's set at a relentless pace throughout with all the now distinctive hallmarks of a Neville crime novel. If you're a fan of the Belfast series there are plenty of little references to the previous books to delight and intrigue the constant reader. But they never distract from the main force of the story. I look forward to his next instalment.

Stolen Souls is 24 meets Die Hard in Belfast. Come on, tell me you don't want to read that and I'll tell you you're a liar.

All The Young Warriors by Anthony Neil Smith

This was officially my first Kindle read and I have to say, this book alone is pretty much worth the price of the Kindle reader. Just a pity the author couldn't get a percentage off that price-tag.

The story is set in Minnesota and Somalia, places of opposite extremes in temperature and culture. The narrative is split between a recently widowed, angry cop and a terrified American-born Somalian who has gone to his father's home country to join the 'ragtag army'. This is a big, ambitious story and it is handled with expertise by Smith. A tremendous novel with a distinct and confident voice. I actually slowed my reading down around the 80% mark to make it last a little longer. I'll be reading more from this guy.

All The Young Warriors is an emotional gut-punch. I'll be thinking about it for a long time to come.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Why I Write - Part 3 of 3

So, is writing an escape for me? I don’t think so. I have a nice life. Apart from a dull day job, the rest of my existence is packed with blessings. I have a supportive wife who I still love very much. Then there are my three children: Mya (age 7), Jack (age 5) and Oscar (age 1). Those kids fuel and exhaust me in equal measure and they are three very different examples of pure brilliance. We also have a puppy that is so cute and fluffy that I can only walk him when it’s dark enough to hide my blushes. I’m broke most of the time, but make just enough money to provide my family with the essentials and the occasional extravagance. So, what’s to escape?

Is it a psychological impulse? Possibly. Though I have other impulses that can be acted upon as and when I decide. For instance, no mater how stressed I am, I rarely drink before the kids go to bed. Certainly never enough to get drunk. When I’ve been cut off on the M1 by some tube in a BMW 3 Series, I don’t drive my Nissan Micra into the back of his wank-mobile to teach the impudent prick a lesson. And when I pop a tube of Pringles, I often stop just to feel that little bit superior to the lost souls who make up the company’s marketing department. So, if I decided it was inconvenient, I’m confident I could quash the urge to write.

So, what is it?

Here’s a theory.

I am descended from a clan of highwaymen and bank robbers. And I am unhealthily fascinated with criminals. In fact, I believe that I have a criminal mind. However, I lack a criminal’s stomach. I simply do not have what it takes to actually commit a legal transgression. So, is the skill for figuring out inventive ways to break into a house or rob a high street shop wasted on this yellow-bellied man? Well, I usually write crime fiction, so maybe not.

Crime fiction has become my legal means of experiencing the joy of law-breaking. I want to be an outlaw but don’t want to risk a criminal record. The idea of a prison sentence captures my imagination, but I have no intention of spending any time in a cell. There are times when my temper gets the better of me and I threaten violence (from a safe distance) yet in my adult years I have yet to throw a punch that wasn’t in self defence. But in my mind, I’ve gone that extra mile so many times. Robbed, shot, stabbed. Danced, kissed, shagged. Lived, fought, died. Vicariously, I have had the most colourful lifetime I could imagine thousands of times and have infinite potential to live many more.

Surely the question is not, ‘Why do I write?’ but, ‘Why the fuck wouldn’t I write?’

That’d be a nice line to finish up on, but I haven’t addressed my skill for listening (remember I mentioned that in Part 1?), so humour me for a further paragraph or two.

I am a listener with an armoury of questions that draw conversation from others. This is useful in social situations that I can’t avoid. It is also essential for my writing inspiration. Other people have stories and I collect them, melt them down and reform them to suit my vision of a character in a story or novel. By listening to others, I refill my inkwells.

And when I can do so without it becoming too obvious to those concerned, I eavesdrop. It’s a little creepy and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I have heard some fantastic conversations on buses and in restaurant. It’s fuel to the creative fire, and a wonderful way to pass the time. But with all that information filling my brain it’d be a real shame to do nothing with it. So what do I do?

I choose to write.

Actually, that’s not a bad line to end this on either, is it?

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Why I write - Part 2 of 3

At an early age I’d set my sights on becoming a writer and spent the rest of my time at primary school, and a few years of grammar school, thinking that it was a viable possibility. Unfortunately, by the time it came to choosing my GCSEs I had been disillusioned. We were given flowcharts and instruction manuals by our careers teacher. The poorly photocopied literature provided suggested ‘pathways’ to professional careers. Accountant, barrister, doctor… Writer as a profession was glaringly absent. Bollocks.

As far as St Colman’s College, Newry, was concerned, you studied to go to university. In university you studied to acquire a vocation. If you didn’t have the aptitude to contribute to an exemplary level of achievement and advance the school’s league records, you could expect to receive advice of NVQs, GNVQs and apprenticeships. These were options my parents persuaded me to avoid. So I found myself aimlessly slogging through GCSEs and then A Levels with limited enthusiasm. I showed some flair for English, especially the restricted amount of creative writing permitted, but this was salt in the wounds really. I gleaned some praise for my imaginings but no real advice that would help me turn it into a career. Journalism was the closest possibility but on an island obsessed with politics I barely understood, I had little love for the idea.

I was accepted into Queen’s University, Belfast, after underachieving in my A Levels. I had discovered alcohol and girls by then and enjoyed them with the lack of sophistication expected from a teenager. Studying was not high up on my list of priorities. I also played in a band at the time. Bass guitar, because it was easier than lead guitar, more prestigious than rhythm guitar and there were less bassists than guitarists in my neck of the woods which increased your chances of getting into a decent four or five-piece. At one point I played for three groups. Anyway, with my focus split this way, it was not very surprising to me that I bombed out of Queen’s. I was too hungover to sit my exams and too distracted to really consider the consequences of such idiocy. But, Jesus, I had a great time that year.

So, there I was, a failure and not particularly heartbroken about it. Sure a degree in English Literature would do fuck all for me anyway. Would it get me published? No. It’d just get in my way. I needed to learn how to live life, then I could write, damn it.

So I got a job at a timber yard. Got some experience there. Learned some new and inventive ways to swear, developed a rash on my chin that wouldn’t let up and saw somebody lose a finger in a vicious machine. The lost finger was enough to send me looking for a new job. I decided to work somewhere that wouldn’t endanger my digits. After a brief stint of stacking pancakes at the Mother’s Pride bakery I landed a cushy number in a public sector office. The Belfast Education and Library Board, to be precise. Found it mind-numbing but less dangerous than manual labour. And it’d pay the bills until I figured out how to get into the writing racket.

Twelve years have passed since then and I still work in the same building.

I am grateful for my day job, though, even if I’m less than enthusiastic about it. Over the last twelve years it has provided me with a home, a series of cars, paid for my wedding, supported my children and funded my unhealthy relationship with alcohol. And each job I’ve done within the organisation (I have been promoted a number of times, and quite recently, demoted) has been just uninspiring enough to urge me to find an alternative source of satisfaction.

So I write.

Monday 23 January 2012

Why I Write - Part 1 of 3

It seems like a straightforward question, that. Why do I write? Well… it’s not straightforward. Not at all.

The urge to write is not an easy thing to pin down. There are psychological, social and emotional elements to it. It’s a philosophical question. There are raw nerves to be struck in such thoughts. Memories better left repressed. Cans that contain less worms. Heartstrings one should never tug.

But the question has been asked and it is my duty to provide some attempt at an answer. Here goes.

The first time I told somebody that I wanted to be a writer, I was about seven or eight years old (memory is a sketchy thing). I’d been collecting the works of Roald Dahl and savouring every word the man wrote. He was the king of gross-out comedy then and I’ve yet to discover a writer who can compete. The declaration happened over lunch with my mother and grandmother – a Dahl-esque cast, as it happens. My grandmother was always fond of the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” She used it often: icebreaker, tension breaker, ball breaker. On this occasion I suspect it was to get me talking. I was a quiet child, more than happy to let my loquacious younger sister do the talking and entertaining. Me, I was happy to sit and listen. Listening… I have to come back to that. It’s very relevant to this topic.

Anyway, my answer at the time was set to disappoint her. Again. You see, my grandmother wanted a specific response from me when she asked this question. She wanted me to tell her that my vocational ambition was to join the priesthood. Become a man of the cloth. There had not been a priest in her family for a number of generations and I was a bespectacled little fellow which usually inferred a certain level of intelligence not usually bestowed on those with perfect eyesight. Surely I’d be clever enough to study the bible or whatever texts are required to earn that white collar. But time and again I managed to disappoint. Previous answers included lorry driver, boxer and cowboy; and a couple of times, when the whimsy was in me, taller.

Here’s the interesting thing, though. When I said, “I want to be a writer and I’ll probably illustrate my own books,” both my grandmother and mother looked a little surprised. Pleasantly so, I thought.

“Do you hear that?” Mum said (she was always concerned about Granny’s hearing ability). “He’s going to ‘illustrate’. How does he even know a word like that?”

Granny mouth-shrugged and pushed her false teeth past her lower lip with her tongue.

Mum waited until she slurped the dentures back into place and said, “It’s all that reading he does.”

There and then, I felt the tinniest surge of something. Excitement? Power? Whatever it was, I liked it. The ability to spit out a word like ‘illustrate’ at such a young age taught me something. Words could impress people. I later went on to learn that words could flatter, hurt and strike fear. If used well sometimes you could achieve all three of these effects at once with a single sentence. But then you also had to learn how to take a punch. I’ve earned myself a fat lip or bloody nose, thanks to my smart mouth, more times than I care to count. That’s okay, though. We learn from such things. I now know that I’m not made of glass.

To be continued...

Saturday 21 January 2012

Belfast Telegraph Competition

There's a competition in the Belfast Telegraph today to win a rather spiffy presentation tin edition of Wee Rockets as pictured above.

There are ten up for grabs and the question is pretty easy. But if you need any help with it, feel free to get in touch. I'm happy to give readers of the blog an unfair advantage.

Friday 20 January 2012

Catch-all Catch-up

I never did do one of those introspective end of 2011, start of 2012 blog posts. So this attempt to pull my thoughts together will serve as a belated one. It seems I had a very good year in 2011 when I list out some of the highlights:

- Generally enjoyed marriage and fatherhood
- Got accepted onto the MA for creative writing at QUB
- Took a demotion to allow more time for writing and family
- Saw the publication of my novella, THE POINT
- Warmed to my wife's fluffy puppy and now refer to him as 'our dog'
- Lost an agent and gained a publisher when I signed with Blasted Heath
- Began calling myself a writer

And 2012 is off to a great start with the official release of WEE ROCKETS and a Spinetingler Award nomination for THE POINT. But this writing malarkey is hard work. I finished my MA ssignments a few days ago and now I'm trying to muster up the enthusiasm to rewrite the novel I had hoped to have done before Christmas. It seems like a huge task right now and I'm feeling a little unfit for purpose. Hopefully I'll shake that off soon because self-pity irritates the hell out of me.

Anyway, in an attempt to shake myself up a bit I listened to a great Writing Excuses podcast about the Hollywood Formula and how to apply it to books. And in it, they recommended Ian MCDonald's latest science fiction epic, The Dervish House. And it reminded me of one of my highest points of the year that was enhanced by the attendance of one Ian McDonald. Here's a pic of me and Arlene Hunt at our joint launch at No Alibis, and in the background, to the right, you can see the award-winning science fiction great, Ian McDonald.

Yeah, man. It was a great frickin' year. And I need to work even harder to make this one top it.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Kindle Surprise

Last Saturday my wife surprised me with a lovely present. After the clan had demolished the bacon and eggs served up for our now traditional Saturday morning brunch, we cleaned the yolk out of the one-year-old's hair and fed the dog his share of the leftover bacon. Then I was handed a little cardboard box from Amazon. I knew what it was from the dimensions right away as me and my siblings had chipped in and bought one for my dad at Crimbo. Plus the product name was stamped on the box. It was a Kindle!

My wife thought it was a bit mad that I was pushing my novel, WEE ROCKETS, only available as an ebook, when I didn't own an ereader. And to be honest, I felt a bit bad about that too. I'd bought a few ebooks for the Kindle app on my iPod Touch but they were a pain in the arse to read that way. And while I tried out the Kindle for PC app, I found that wasn't for me either. But this thing... wow. I'm currently blazing through Anthony Neil Smith's All The Young Warriors (bloody brilliant it is too) and have lined up a host of exciting ebooks when I'm done with it. Yesterday I was able to eat a big sloppy sandwich and read at the same time as the Kindle sat on my desk without me having to battle a paperback spine with my thumb. And I love the font size I picked for my poor, punished eyes.

I say all this a little grudgingly, though. I'm usually a fan of the underdog, and these days Amazon is the alpha in most consumer packs. Maybe a different brand of ereader would salve my conscience a little, but I hear Kindle is simply the best in the price range, so why bother messing with an inferior product? What I can do, however, is support writers who haven't landed that mainstream publishing deal but are very much worth reading. Writers published by Blasted Heath, for example. That makes me feel a bit better.

I don't think I'll ever give up on real books, though. It's a different product than an ebook. Its packaging is part of its charm; part of the reading experience. And the feeling of calm I get simply browsing through a bookstore? It's a mini holiday for me. So, whether or not I'm a little giddy with techno-joy, I'm still a bibliophile at heart (but not really a book-sniffer).

If you think Kindle is the devil or that books are a dead god, do share your views. My interest in the subject is peaked right now.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

The Fall is Coming...

There's a new Northern Irish crime fiction writer on the scene, folks. Claire McGowan was kind enough to stop by for a Q&A last week and introduce herself to the CSNI readers. She grew up in a village just a few miles away from The Point, she has fine taste in puppies (hi, Eddie the Beagle) and she's got a blurb from Peter frickin' James! Her book comes out in February and I for one am looking forward to it. Check it out:

'One of the very best novels I've read in a long while...astonishing, powerful and immensely satisfying' - Peter James

What would you do if the man you love was accused of murder?

Bad things never happen to Charlotte. She's living the life she's always wanted and about to marry wealthy banker, Dan. But Dan's been hiding a secret, and the pressure is pushing him over the edge. After he's arrested for the vicious killing of a nightclub owner, Charlotte's future is shattered.

Then she opens her door to Keisha, an angry and frustrated stranger with a story to tell. Convinced of Dan's innocence, Charlotte must fight for him - even if it means destroying her perfect life. But what Keisha knows threatens everyone she loves, and puts her own life in danger.

DC Matthew Hegarty is riding high on the success of Dan's arrest. But he's finding it difficult to ignore his growing doubts as well as the beautiful and vulnerable Charlotte. Can he really risk it all for what's right?

Three stories. One truth. They all need to brace themselves for the fall.

Monday 16 January 2012

2012 Spinetingler Nomination -- Best Novella

I wanted to blog about this earlier but I had an assignment I needed to get done first. And it's now done, so -- DRUMROLL, PLEASE! -- my novella, THE POINT, has been nominated for a Spinetingler Award. Oh, yeah. The little book that could, just did. I'm frickin' dee-lighted. I'm also fully aware that a nomination is as far as it will go. Have a gander at this cluster-feck of insane talent and wonder at the confidence trick I played to get lumped in with them.

California - Ray Banks
Barracuda - Raymond Embrack
Everything I Tell You is a Lie - Fingers Murphy
Every Shallow Cut - Tom Piccirilli
Felony Fists - Jack Tunney
Follow Me Down - Kio Stark
Old Ghosts - Nik Korpon
The Point - Gerard Brennan
Shotgun Gravy - Chuck Wendig
Smoke - Nigel Bird

But hey, I don't mind losing to any one of those guys. All I want to do is go down swinging. So, if you have the time -- and you feckin' do or you wouldn't be reading this, would you? -- Go to the Spinetingler website and throw a vote my way. It only takes one click and you don't have to register for anything or agree to any dodgy terms and conditions. Just clickety-click and you're done. What are you waiting for? If you'd stopped reading a sentence or two ago, you'd be done by now!

Thank you in advance, kind souls.

P.S. Why not buy some or all of the novellas on the list? I know I will. They're there for a reason, like. Purchase links to all of them can be found on the Spinetingler site.

Thursday 12 January 2012

An Interview - Claire McGowan

Claire McGowan was born in Rostrevor, Co. Down. After a degree in English and French from Oxford University she moved to London and worked in the charity sector. She is currently the Director of the Crime Writers’ Association. THE FALL is her first novel and is published by Headline on 2 February.

What are you writing at the minute?

I’m working on a re-write of my second book for Headline, which is due out in 2013. Publishing schedules often run very far in advance! When I have time I’m dabbling with other book ideas for the future. Having the ideas is fine, it’s just finding the time to write/edit/polish them that’s the problem for me.

Can you give us an idea of Claire McGowan’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

As well as writing I have a part-time job running the Crime Writers’ Association. So I work from home full-time now, and it’s up to me to set the routine. I have to say that, having always been quite disciplined, I’ve been disappointed by how difficult I’ve found it working from home. At the moment I’m trying to do it like this: some time for emails in the morning, plus internet faffing (a full-time job in itself if you let it be), several hours of writing, then a few hours of CWA work. I have a puppy so taking him out for walks/stopping him from eating important things also gives me a good break from the laptop.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I don’t understand the question? In all seriousness, it’s tempting when you work from home to always be working in some capacity, often without actually being all that productive. For a break I read a lot – I’m trying to read more as I think it’s essential if you’re going to write – and I walk the dog, and I also watch a lot of films. I realise this is making me sound really boring so I’m going say that, as befits an Irish crime writer, I go out a fair bit too. As part of my job I quite often go to crime-writing parties and events – those people know how to have a good time!

Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the genre fiction scene?

I’d say congratulations on identifying your work as part of a genre. So many first-time writers seem to have no idea that genre even exists, and instead are trying to shoe-horn their work into the nebulous general-literary-mainstream fiction area. If you use it properly, genre can be hugely valuable to your work and you career. Think of it as a ladder, not a frame – you don’t have to be bound by the rules, but it can help you get where you need to go.

Which writers have impressed you this year?

In 2011, as part of my job, I read a very wide spectrum of crime, from noir to action to fantasy crossover. My personal favourite has always been the psychological thriller, in the vein of Barbara Vine, and so I probably most enjoyed books by Sophie Hannah, Erin Kelly, Julia Crouch, and Kate Atkinson. All women, for some reason.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished reading A Clash of Kings, the second in the ‘Game of Thrones’ books. It was brilliant but I’m feeling quite daunted at the thought of another five 900-page tomes full of intrigue and twists. I might need a rest or else I’ll start stomping round in cloaks and commanding my dog to tear out people’s throats.

Plans for the future?

Looking ahead, I’d love to write some crime set in Northern Ireland. It’s so exciting to see writers emerging from back home and I’ve already drafted up the first in what I hope would be a series. I once read something Ian Rankin wrote, where he said that compared to Scotland, there was very little Northern Irish crime, perhaps because we were too busy dealing with the real-life effects of violence. But it seems now that Irish crime is having a real moment, and I’m keen to be part of that. Northern Ireland’s such a rich setting for a crime writer. There’s so much dark history, both related to the Troubles and otherwise, but coupled with humour and a strong culture.

With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

Without wishing to boast, I was comparatively young when I got my publishing deal, so I don’t have too many regrets so far. Even so I feel like I wasted several years before knuckling down to writing. It was what I’d always wanted to do, but I never really tried because I was so sure I’d fail. It’s unlikely I would have got published any earlier, but I could have spent a lot of time writing instead of watching Friends repeats. My advice to anyone who wants to write would be to get on with it and not worry about failing. And don’t listen to your parents when they want you to do a law degree.

Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

It’s not been THAT bad, I suppose, but I’ve found the second book more difficult than I expected. Maybe because I wrote the first in happy ignorance of how publishing worked, or that it was a crime novel, or of pretty much everything. Now I’m doing it professionally I’m putting myself under more pressure and worrying a lot more. But hopefully it will have paid off in the end.

Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

As a native of County Down (Rostrevor), it’s great to be interviewed by someone local!

Thank you, Claire McGowan!

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Writing in 3D

I was listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast (#171) on the journey to and from work today. He had this boyo, Everlast, on as a guest. Here's a tune from the album he was promoting:

I like it. Can't believe it's the same guy that brought us Jump Around when he was rapping with House of Pain, though.

Anyway, what I thought was even more interesting was his take on writing songs. He doesn't write them down. For Everlast, writing them onto a page makes them flat, literally and figuratively. He believes that when the song exists only in his head he can think of it as music in 3D and when he plays it, that's how it comes out. He also mentions that he likes to smoke a little weed but I'm not suggesting there's a direct connection.

But it makes me think of all the writers out there who churn out their manuscripts by the seat of their pants rather than going through the arduous outlining process other writers swear by. Is this also a form of writing in 3D? A direct link from the subconscious to the keyboard without flattening the spirit of the work?

Who knows? Now that I see it on the screen it seems a bit of a half-baked notion. I can assure you though, I am not a half-baked writer. I can't afford to buy weed.

In other news, I have a guest post up at Spinetingler and Katy O'Dowd has posted a cracking review of Wee Rockets on her website.

My cup overfloweth.

Monday 9 January 2012

Hosts With The Mosts

A couple of fine folk have me featured on their blogs today. Please do stop by Paul D Brazill's You Would Say That, Wouldn't You? for a short, sharp interview and then skip on over to Fiona 'McDroll' Johnson's I Meant To Read That for my guest post about an element of writing. Many thanks to both these kind souls and to Jay Faulkner who gave me a topic for the guest post.

And here's a great wee tune, just because.

It's a cheery number. NSFW, though.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

The Bonnevilles - Pure Savage

I don't buy a lot of albums these days because... well, I don't buy a lot of anything these days. But I watched this video and couldn't resist ordering The Bonnevilles, Good Suits and Fighting Boots:

Cracker, right?

Well, you can vote for this video over at the Pure Savage: NI Music website as video of the year. It got my vote. Stop by if you think it deserves yours.

The album arrived today and I can confirm that it makes great driving music and excellent dishwasher-emptying music.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Facebook Cold Turkey

Yesterday was my first day without Facebook for many years. I've been using it at an increasing rate in recent times having around the clock access via my phone, iPod and laptop and it was getting to be a serious time bandit. So I deactivated the account on Sunday night. At first I feared I had done the wrong thing. How much was I going to miss out on? Would my brother and sisters forget I exist? How was I going to know what was going on in the world!?

Well, yesterday I had a lazy, housebound bank holiday and I decided to list the things I did in those moment where I thought, You know, I'd be on Facebook right now if I had an account.

1. I read a few chapters of Stuart Neville's Stolen Souls.

2. I pulled a little more weight in the housework department.

3. I thought about the writing work I have ahead of me this year.

4. I began to face the reality that I needed to get up earlier to cope with my ongoing to-do list.

5. I watched TV with the kids.

6. I put on some music and sang along as loud as I could.

7. I bathed the mancubs.

8. I bathed the puppy.

9. I played an Xbox game for 45 minutes.

10. I watched two and a half movies (Burke and Hare, Super and Limitless).

11. I allowed myself to think.

12. I drank a few beers.

13. I spent a little time on Twitter.

14. I came up with the idea for this blog post.

15. I asked my wife what was going on with everybody on Facebook.

Sunday 1 January 2012

Wee Rockets Official Release Date

Happy New Year!

I've a pretty good reason to be chipper today. My debut novel, Wee Rockets, has officially been released by Blasted Heath. If you haven't seen it yet, have a look at the Blasted Heath page devoted to Wee Rockets which includes a video, a voice recording of an excerpt and links to purchase it.

And since I'll be killing my Facebook account in a few minutes, I'll probably start posting music vids here. In fact, why wait? Here's a tune that ran through my head quite a lot when I was writing, rewriting and editing Wee Rockets.