Where I'll be on Wednesday
I'll be the one wearing nail varnish (well, on one fingernail anyway - old war wound).
Stuart MacBride lives in the North East of Scotland, where he writes gruesome crime novels and grows gruesome potatoes.
If you want to know what I'm up to, head on over to the diary page!
I'll be the one wearing nail varnish (well, on one fingernail anyway - old war wound).
Huntly used to be called ‘Milton of Strathbogie’, believe it or not. And there’s not much more I can say about that without getting into trouble somewhere. This was to be the site of the inaugural Bearded Write-ist Does An Workshop, with associated finger sandwiches and dancing. So off to Huntly we did go.
It’s a granite-grey town about eight centimetres away from our house (according to our 2005 RAC Road Atlas Britain), built around a central square full of French merchants. Or at least it was on Saturday – the Huntly Deveron Arts Halloween Festival was in full swing, and to mark the occasion there was a continental market in town. If you’ve never been to one, they’re great. All these stallholders come across from Europe (mostly France) to sell sausages, salamis, cheese, cheap leather goods, vegetables, and in this case – skimpy lingerie.
What the hell were they thinking? Red lace bustiers, thongs and suspender belts? In late October? In Huntly? Hell, in Scotland? Surprisingly enough they weren’t exactly doing a roaring trade. I only saw two people go anywhere near the stand, and both of them were in their mid seventies. A pair of auld wifies, oot fingerin’ the naughty knickers and wondering if the blue, puce, or royal purple would go better with their varicose veins. Mmm, sexy!
And I’d like to know how these stallholders can come all the way over from the continent and sell fresh, ripe tomatoes that actually taste of tomato, when our supermarkets are selling things that look like tomatoes, but are in fact nasty, hard balls of pink cotton wool. Bastards.
Anyway, the much vaunted workshop was to take place in the Brander Library, which is an impressive building when not hidden behind a cheese stall and an opportunity to dress up as a fireman. I was in a wee room on the first floor previously used for skeleton drawing. And, as if that wasn’t enough to get excited enough, there were actually people waiting for me.
I’d been certain my audience would consist of two old ladies (possibly wearing newly-purchased kinky upholstery) an old mannie and his dog. One of whom would have dreadful wind. But no – these were real life, genuine people. About a dozen of them. And so we began...
Being an organised kind of bloke I’d managed to produce some handouts: the mind map I’d used to write short story number five from ‘the 12 Days of Christmas’, a list of books and websites I use for reference when I’m writing, and the first page of another shortie of mine – pre-edit. So far so good. Or at least 'not yet disastrous', which is near enough.
The idea was to go through everything from getting ideas to getting published. In an hour and a half. This was my first mistake. There would be more.
For the ideas bit I wanted to pick up a copy of that day’s Press and Journal, scope out three possible starting points and then get everyone there to vote on one to take into the planning stage. Turned out I didn’t need to: the 2005/06 edition of ‘Huntly Matters’ was being handed out in the square as part of the market. It’s more of council mission statement than anything else, but it did have some great quotes in it, peppered about to break up the ‘enabling statements’ and ‘proactive leveraging’. My favourite was: "WHAT HUNTLY PEOPLE SAY... ‘What about a non-alcohol based youth club for kids to hang out?’"
So... the norm is for alcohol-based youth clubs? Eh? WTF? But it lead off into a good discussion of the drink problem in Huntly and then to murders, accidents, criminal assaults and suicides. Which was enlightening – Huntly doesn’t look like a den of violence and vice. Except for those two old ladies in their peephole bras. We took a real life criminal assault as the basis for a story and mind-mapped the arse off it. Then it was on to characters and minimising coincidences and the second lead balloon of the day: WRITING.
“So,” says Stuart, picking someone at random (the only other man in the room), “How do you go about your writing.” There’s a small embarrassed pause, then he admits that he doesn’t. He’s here because the theatre group he’s with want to do a film and think it’d be a good idea to write it down first. Bit of chat and everything seems back on course again. Mistake number three – Stuart asks someone how they write dialogue. The answer: “I sit down and write it.” Accompanied by a look that may or may not be contempt. Stuart gives his best smile and talks about reading dialogue out loud to make sure it doesn’t sound like stereo instructions. A good recovery, but 'the look' remains for the rest of the session.
And then it was editing – I’d thought this would be the second best bit of the workshop (after the planning), going through that pre-edit page of shortie and asking people how they’d make it better. Then explaining the changes I’d made when it came to the second draft. Didn't quite go how I'd expected. But no one threw anything and we got a pretty good discussion on style V grammatical correctness going.
Not long after that Claudia from Deveron Arts stuck her head round the door and politely told me I was out of time, and the skeleton people wanted back in to do some more still deaths. So I went into a quick five minute dash about Agents. There was a distinct level of surprise when I launched into the old ‘beware of shyster bastards who want you to pay them money’ speech.
It’s a shame the thing had to finish when it did, because instead of going out on a song, or at least the more positive aspects of being published, we had to stop with: ‘people who ask for your money are not your friends!’ I would have liked it to have ended on a more upbeat note than it did. My fault for not managing the time better.
So, if you want to know how it went – no idea. I can honestly say that I learned a few things, not sure if anyone else came away with anything useful, but I hope so. Next time I’ll do better.
Presuming anyone else is daft enough to ask.
Yes, tomorrow is the big day – my first ever crime writering workshop*. Actually, it’s also my first ever solo event. Up until now I’ve always had fellow panellists and a moderator to fall back on. Well, the twice I’ve been on panels, anyway. But not tomorrow – tomorrow it’s all beard all of the time. Yowza, yowza... ahem.
And, apparently some people have already bought tickets! I’m hoping I’m not going to wander into the Brander Library tomorrow to be faced with half a dozen steely glares from the FRFLA**. Maybe I should put a call into the United Nations in advance, just in case?
The way I figure it, I’ve got an hour and a half to do my funky thang, and about eleven things to talk about. So less than nine minutes to fill on each topic. Which doesn’t sound too bad.*** After that I plan to retire to the nearest pub for a libation and a singsong.
Mind you, if it goes badly I may just end up being escorted from the premises with a blanket over my head. One never knows.
* Brought to you courtesy of those lovely people at Deveron Arts
** First Rankin Fundamentalist Liberation Army
*** Which should immediately set alarm bells ringing
I will now own up to my mercenary leanings: that book icon on the page (over there, the one that looks like a book) – it links to Amazon using my Amazon Associates account from which I get a small percentage of any purchase made. Whoo, money-spinner or what?
Tha answer is ‘what’.
Today’s celebration comes to you courtesy of the letters ‘WTF’, the smell of ‘Fish’, and the number ‘1’. Oh yes indeed and Lordy, for today I got my Amazon Associate report and I have finally managed to sell one whole copy of Cold Granite. Praise Amazon most high and rub bacon fat into my fuzzy buttocks (you know you want to...).
So, in six months of having that book icon up there on the blog and web site, I’ve managed to persuade one whole person to buy a copy of my book. Whoever you are, I love you. With all the fluff in my bellybutton. Which is blue today, in case you’re wondering*.
Now I’m sure you’re all desperate to know what else I’ve managed to sell, in association with that bastion of internetitude, so here we go...
|Thing||Cash to Stuart|
|The Devil's Feather||£0.54|
|Dangerous Tastes: The Story||£0.35|
|Dodgy Electrical Stuff:|
|Bytestor Hi-Speed 66X SD Car||£1.91|
Isn’t that an... ODD kind of purchase profile? The most money I’ve made from plugging my book for half a year is down to one, single Hi-Speed digital data card thing.
Now one could be cynical and say that Amazon.co.uk have some ‘clarity issues’ with their ‘Associate’ accounting, or trusting and say that this is just the way the cookie crumbles. I won’t say which way I’m leaning.
It’s an odd thing, life. Sometimes it smells very strongly of fish**.
* The fluff, not the bellybutton – that’s a sort of pasty pink, but is eminently kissable.
** Especially if you’ve just boiled a halibut, or fried a haddock, or rubbed stale cod behind your ears.
One thing I left off my list of ‘things what need done’ is the page proof edit of Dying Light. I got the huge wadge of paper yesterday from a very soggy mailman called ‘Colin’ and I’ve spent most of the day on the study couch, or floor, working my way through every single last word.
This is it – last chance to save the day if anything is screwed up. Which is why I always find page proof editing to be my least favourite bit of the publishing lifecycle. With earlier edits you can pretty much please yourself: don’t like a sentence? Change it! Whhhhhooooooosh! Paragraph in the wrong place? Cut and paste like an NINJA! Hieeeeee-ya! Easy as stuffing your face with white chocolate Rice Krispies squares with cherries in them. Which I’m also doing at the moment. But when it gets to page proof time, there’s no room for fiddling. This is the book as it’s come back from the typesetter. Next step from here is someone shouting, "Roll them printing presses!"
Screwing about with the text at this late stage in the game costs money, so you have to be pretty damn sure that three word change is worth it. Which is where my problem kicks in. Perfectionism means never having to say you’re finished. And that way leads only to madness and chafing.
I want to change things, but I must deny my addiction. Bad Stuart! Naughty! No more Chocolate Crispies for you!*
* I’ve always thought you could make really kick arse Chocolate Crispies with white chocolate and Special K Red Berries. Mmm, crispies...
Jim posted a reply to my last load of inane ramblings with a link that’s just too damn funny to languish away on the backblog. Haven’t laughed so much for ages*. Be warned though, you’ll probably need Internet Explorer to see it, but it’s worth booting up the old war horse for.
Next time I let rip, I know I’ll be praising the Lord.
* Hmm, looks like She Who Must isn't the only one who's low-brow in this household.
Sometimes, I like to watch Sunday morning religious programming. You know, the stuff where they try to hold serious discussions about faith and all that kind of stuff? I love it. Nothing more guaranteed to have me shouting at the television than people debating religion. Shout, shout, shout, shout, shout. When I start hurling personal insults at the folks on the screen I know it’s time to go get a nice cup of tea and do something else with the morning.
Today I lasted a whole five minutes! (something of a record for me)
And what was the topic de jour? Science Versus Religion – three falls, a knockout, or a submission. Funny, funny, rant-inducing stuff. My favourite was the woman with two wee kiddies, standing in the Science Museum in London telling the nation that she’d “rather trust a man with a white beard than a man in a white coat.”
Light blue touch paper and run like buggery.
Who? Santa Claus? He’s got a white beard. So has Saddam Hussein, come to that. Hell, even my Dad’s got a white beard these days... But wait, look at that coy little tilt to her head, that mischievous sparkle in her eye: she’s not talking about any old white-bearded silly-sausage, she’s talking about GOD! Wow.
Actually, now I come to think about it, the guy who sells fish in Oldmeldrum on Saturday mornings wears a white coat, and so does the woman who delivers the rolls and rowies to the local shop. So, no offence to Agnes (who’s a lovely lady and does a fine job with her floury baps*), but if I’m standing in the queue for the checkout – perhaps having purchased a bottle of wine, some cheese and a copy of ‘What Beard Monthly’ (it’s handlebar moustaches this issue with a free chin-shaped hairnet for those unruly furry bits) – and up pops God with a contrary position on the correct maintenance procedure for a hedge trimmer, I’m going to have to go with the white beard option too. He’s God, and being omnipotent presumably knows his way around garden tools and other household implements.
Mind you, if it’s about the correct oven temperature for making rowies, I’m probably going to lean more Agnes-ward. Fair’s fair after all.
Is it normal to watch television programmes just because you know they annoy you?
* Don’t be childish now... tee-hee: that sounds like boobies...
Well it’s happened again. On my way to bed last night and I get another attack of the bloody muse. So I’m standing in the study scribbling away on the whiteboard when I should be curled up in beddy-bo-bies dreaming about scantily clad women. It’s not fair!
And worse yet – it’s got bugger all to do with any of the things I need to get finished by the end of the year:
What I DON’T need are more bloody short story ideas right now. I have plenty to be going on with, thank you very much! Come back in January when I might just have some breathing space.
I’m going to get a big bloody baseball bat. TWACK! Ha! How’d you like them little red wagons?
I’ve decided to blame Lynn. She was doing this ‘way of the cheetah’ series of posts about how not to loll in the word count doldrums, but seems to have abandoned the idea. Yes, it’s all Lynn’s fault. Not mine. No, never mine...
Today, if I’m a good boy, I might just manage to scrape TSA over the 50,000 word mark. Pa-fucking-thetic. Some folks will be doing that much in a week. Stinkers. But not me. Not this time anyway. Last time: yes, this time: no.
And what am I doing about it? How am I addressing my painful dribble of words*? No idea. I did have a long chat with the cat today. Didn’t help with the word count, but she did suggest I start burning things for fun. Which was nice. I’m beginning to think she’s leading a double life – part time hairy beanbag and part time evil muse. You know, the one that sits on the opposite shoulder from the angel and says things like, “Come on: who’d ever find out?”
Next thing you know you’re stark-naked and up to your armpits in mooshed-up Jehovah’s Witnesses, all wearing beanies and inane smiles made of plasticene. That’s when you realise you need professional help.
* Hmm, sounds like a trip to the doctor is on the cards when it’s put like that...
Yesterday's escapade at the Aberdeen Ladies' Curling Club went much better than I'd ever imagined. Not only was everyone extremely nice and friendly I also got to meet some potential sources for information. Oh yes! I now know someone who owns three bars in Aberdeen. Count 'em – three. And she seems dead keen to have at least one of them in the next book. Bwahahahaha... This means I get to hang about in a bar and call it work! Not to mention a potential tour of an old folks home, and a couple of other snippets as well. Result!
And not only that, they were extremely generous as well. When mine mother set it up it was because her friends had wanted to get their books signed, and maybe pick up a few more copies. Christmas / birthday presents. That kind of thing. "How many books?" says I. "Oh," comes the reply, "better make it about... what... two dozen?"
Now that's quite a lot of books. But bless her little cotton socks, the lovely Vicky at Ottakar's lent me three boxes of eight to take to the curling rink, on the understanding that I would probably be bringing most of them back again. Nope. Not one. Not a single copy made it back into town. In fact, I had to get another four out of stock when I went back to drop off the cash. Amazing.
What a lot of lovely ladies – they said so many nice things I could barely fit my head back in the car afterwards. Grin, you'd have thought I'd swallowed a shark.
Aberdeen Ladies' Curling Club: we salute you!
America is even weirder than I'd thought – I was Googling for 'Curly Wurlies' (as you do) and came across a discussion about how Curly Wurlies were basically the same as Marathon Bars. "Bollocks, they are!" I said to no one in particular, as the cat was off depopulating the local fauna, "Marathons are nothing like Curly Wurlies! Marathon bars are what turned into Snickers for no readily apparent reason."
But lo and behold, there's evidence on the web, that US Marathon Bars were "a full eight inches of braided caramel covered in milk chocolate." How screwed up is that? Our Curly Wurlies were their Marathons and our Marathons became their Snickers...
I'm sure there's some great cosmic significance to all this, but until I stumble upon it in an absinth-addled fugue*, I'm going to put it down to Americans being weird.
And let's not even get started on that whole 'trousers' V 'pants' thing.
* Which might take a while as I don't drink the stuff. I'm bearded, not mad. And I like my ears where they are, thank you very much.
For years now the only person I’ve done the ‘writing buddy’ thing with has been Mr James. He writes something: I give him feedback. I write something: he returns the favour. We don’t always agree 100%, but it’s a fresh pair of eyes, and all feedback is good feedback. It helps.
The way I look at it is this: when I write something it’s as good as I can make it at the time (without the benefit of hindsight, which comes later). So if there are problems / flaws in what I’ve written, I want to know about it so I can fix them. In the end I think it makes for a better story.
But every time I give feedback I sit and wonder if the recipient is ever going to speak to me again. It’s a tricky thing – this constructive criticism. Highlighting areas for improvement (in my humble, bearded opinion) without coming off like a patronising / nasty bastard.
“How come you is postin’ about this then?” you ask, in your naughty grammatically inventive way, well – I have recently expanded my circle of test readers. Checking to see if a couple of shorties would fly in certain markets where I consider them to be the experts. And now it’s ‘quid-pro-quo’ time.
I’ll let you know if I get any census-taker’s livers in the post.
Looks like meme silly season is upon us. No sooner do I recover from Gabriele’s 32-5 infection when Holly ups and gives me a nasty dose of the ‘joy’s as well. Like a snorking head cold and midge buboes isn’t enough for my beleaguered immune system to deal with!
“Search for the word ‘joy’ in your back posts and ponder...” yadda, yadda, yadda. You know the drill by now. One good thing about this infectious indignity is being reminded about the ‘site:’ search facility in Google (ah, remember the good old days when Blogger used that instead of it’s poopy proprietary search that doesn’t bring anything back?*)
Right, so all Googled up and armed with Lemsip, we have the post 'Cheese and Whine', wherein the word ‘joy’ is used in a non-sarcastic manner, believe it or not. OK, the post itself is about getting a hatchet job review from some bloke in the Guardian, but the ‘joy’ reference was genuine enough. (Incidentally, the same paper gave the audio version of CG a reasonable review. Go figure. Maybe the abridgers cut out all the crap bits? )
Ahh... if you’ve ever suffered from a serious ear infection, you’ll appreciate the unfettered delight that comes with having your ears syringed. Especially if you’re on your honeymoon at the time. From muzzy painful can’t-hear-ish-ness to blissful, pain-free listening. Relief from agony and antibiotics, freedom to drink wine and beer and nasty banana-liqueur-based cocktails! Mmmmm... That’s your money shot, right there.
* Yes, I know I don’t like to criticize blogger, as they do all this for free, but when the search function was Google-based it worked: that’s all I’m saying. OK?
And now – in accordance with the WHO guidelines on infectious meme-related diseases:
I must be pretty damn tasty, because something has been biting me big-style*. And to make sure that the full itchy benefit is felt all the bites have swollen up to the size of cantaloupe melons** and gone baboon’s-arse-red. I showed these to my doting wife, expecting some sort of sympathy – Ha!
She Who Must, takes one look and says, “Have you had chickenpox?” Like it’s my own silly fault.
“Yes,” says I, “I’ve had chicken pox.”
Small pause while I give her ‘the look’. “Yes I’m sure, I was there.”
“Oh...” Thoughtful silence. “These ones are all in a circle,” Poke, Poke.
“Aaaaah! Leave them alone! Horrible wife!” Our hero skitters away out of reach.
“Maybe it’s bubonic plague? They all had lumps in a circle like that. You know – ring a ring a rosies?”
Stuart exits stage left in an itchy huff.
One minute I’ve got nasty midge bites and the next it’s the Black Death. This is what happens when one looks to ones wife for sympathy.
In addition to my dose of the bubonic I have also developed an cold of epic proportions. You know the sort – when your eyeballs feel like they don’t fit in your head any more, because someone’s stuffed it full of napalm and fire-ants? Three days now I’ve been sniffing and snorking. Remember that post about introducing Mr Nose to Mr Grindstone? Well, that’s exactly what it looks like: half-a-punna-mince (as they say up here), all red and swollen. Very sexy. I was going to try a hot toddy last night, but we haven’t got any whisky (it’s a long story***) so had to settle for a tot of Aquavit instead. It tastes like very alcoholic pine disinfectant, so it must be good at clearing out the old tubes, no? No. But it does make everything smell funny for days afterwards.
Have to hope I’m feeling better for my lovely ladies of the ice on Monday. Otherwise it’s going to be a right proper bastard hanging about in a frozen rink for two hours.
* Nothing big, I mean it’s not a mountain lion or anything (they’re not that common in Aberdeenshire) or a rabid futtrit. Probably just a midge with teeth like six-inch galvanised steel nails.
** OK, so maybe that’s a small exaggeration on my part.
*** We drank it – actually, it’s not such a long story now I think about it.
My GOD, will the showbiz madness never end? Yes, the latest in a very short line of public outings will soon be up us. Well, it’ll soon be upon me, but it’s my blog, so nyah. Monday, 17th October 2005 sees the MacBride publicity behemoth resting on its bearded laurels at CURL ABERDEEN! Yes, the Aberdeen Ladies Curling Club are having a superstar signing session* this Monday coming.
Actually I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. You get some ribald types at these curling clubs. It’s all that sliding up and down the ends that does it. And as all the best curling stones are made of polished granite, what better a venue to sign a book called what my book is called?
Mine mother’s been a curling fanatic for a long time now and her friends** have been buying my book by the pallet-load and inflicting them upon their friends in an never-ending cycle of pain and torture. And as some of these delightful (but deluded) souls have been asking about getting their books signed, the forthcoming event has been arranged.
I’m looking forward to it: curling is hella therapeutic. Chucking great big dods of stone about on slippery slithery ice, then scooting away after it, watching as it batters the living hell out of the stones others have already slithered down there... And it's even more fun after a couple of nippy sweeties. Just as long as you remember to wear your thermals.
* Only sans-superstar. I might wear a spangly jumpsuit, and kid on I’m someone famous: you never know...
** Loyal and lovely ladies that they are: God bless and keep them, every one.
I know I don’t do these very often, but that’s because... er... well, I can’t be arsed. No, that’s not it. It’s probably got something to do with the weather, or socks, or something.
Anyway, I have been doing a lot of reading of late. Which is nice. Had some good times, had some bad times. But overall it’s been interesting seeing what works, what doesn’t work, and what has me frothing at the mouth, swearing a blue streak and wishing a fiery death upon whoever agreed to publish the person in question. Much like some Ian Rankin fans have done when faced with my book – according to their comments on the UK version of Amazon, anyway.
One thing that absolutely bugs the tits off of me is the info dump kings and queens of crime fiction. We’ve all seen it – exposition as dialogue, or reams of bloody back-story, history, snippets of PISH! Aaaaaaargh!
“You know,” said Terry, looking long and hard at the body stretched out on the bathroom floor with a nine-by-two socket set lodged into its rectum, “this reminds me of the time when I was a small boy, running through the corn fields near my home. Where we’d spend happy summers, until my father died in a tragic shelf-related ferreting accident that left my mother bitter and paralysed with a fear of small carnivorous mammals and DIY.”
“Really?” said John, straightening the tie his mother-in-law had given him for his thirty-ninth birthday. It was covered with penguins which was eerily appropriate given his nickname – Pingu. Sometimes he thought that wrinkled old blue-haired woman from Birmingham had a window into his soul. Just as long as she never saw his shameful secret: he was having an affair with the woman who ran the local off-licence. “So that explains why your brother killed himself by jumping off the three seventeen to Edinburgh, dressed as the Queen Mother. I’m not surprised you suffered from clinical depression for three years afterwards. God knows I would have too...”
OK, so I’m taking the piss, but it’s not far off some of the stuff that actually gets published. Know what – I DON’T CARE HOW TERRY’S DAD WAS KILLED! Not unless it's directly relevant to the story - and even then I don't want to find out about it in some half-arsed dialogue. I don’t give a toss about John’s affair. Even less about his tie and his nickname. You wanna give the guy a nickname? Have other characters use it.
And as for "I’m not surprised you suffered from clinical depression afterwards": I actually heard someone say that on television this weekend. Lazy, lazy bastards. You would have thought someone, somewhere down the line would have grabbed the writer by the throat and shaken them until some proper dialogue fell out.
Hmm... that may have come out as more of a rant than I had anticipated. I think I’d better go lie down in a darkened room for a bit.
Coincidences are like cheese in the great buffet of life: omnipresent and sometimes deep-fried. And occasionally served on little sticks with bits of pineapple. But always a part of the weft and weave. And to prove this fact I did get an email today, via the website of DOOM...
Don MacBride posted this on Tuesday 11-Oct-2005
hmmm remember me? last met at Baltic chambers, Wellington St Glasgow about quarter century ago, assuming you are who I think you are! loved checking out your site, will be sure to check out the book. should this be a case of mistaken identity, apologise for any confusion caused. good luck! Dm
Bleedin heck – Baltic chambers, MacBride, 25 years ago... ’tis a blast from the veritable past! Yes Don, I am who you think I am (unless you think I am someone who I’m not, in which case I’m not them, but me instead) and have been for a number of years now. I’ve tried taking the pills, but it always ends up in a dreadful, embarrassing scene involving public nudity and shaven knees.
How about that, the internet actually proved useful for something!?!
Guess what I got in the post? An postcard. An postcard featuring a mosaic of the Parthenon. An postcard from ROME! An postcard with a nice message on it from Mr Brian Rust* about Cold Granite.
It always surprised me when people take the time to get in touch and say that they liked the book. Especially those who go the extra yard to write in. Makes all the sitting on my bum, making stuff up, seem worthwhile. Puts a big cheesy smile on my face. Thank you Mr Rust – you are a star.
Now, being a Stuart of little brain, I looked at the picture on the front of the postcard and thought – ‘Someone’s taken my book on holiday with them to Rome, liked it, and sent me a postcard. How cool is that? OK, so he probably had one left over from all the friends and relations, but...’ then I read the bit printed on the back: ‘07 Micro Mosaic, The Parthenon, Rome. Detail from an inlaid malachite table top on display in Duff House, Banff.’ ... oh.
It’s also postmarked from Maidstone.
Ah yes, we crime write-ists are observant fellows, minds like steel traps. I think there’s a dead mouse in mine.
Still, it is a fine postcard and I shall be sending one back forthwith. Well, forwith-ish. I’ll have to go and buy some postcards first. And maybe some stamps. I’ve got plenty of pens though, so at least that’s a start...
* Clearly a man of wit, perspicacity, and too much ouzo**.
** OK, so that’s Greek, but it’s the though that counts...
This is what happens when you get intimate with other people’s blogs – you get nasty, meme-ish infections that need a visit to the special clinic. I blame Gabrielle, for many things. I told her we should have been wearing rubber gloves, but would she listen to me? Noooooo, that would have been too sanitary.
As an avid adherent to the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on the non-transmission of nasty diseases, I will not spread the germs and tag anyone else. But the idea was that you find the 23rd post you ever made on your blog and re-post the 5th sentence. Then ponder the whatnot and doodad of it. Of course, as memes are parasitic diseases, you’re then supposed to infect five other poor bastards. But remember what the W.H.O. say,
Monday, December 13, 2004 – ‘An Odd Thing This ‘Publishing A Book’ stuff’
‘Previous to this, her favourite quote from my work was “Bottoms, bottoms, tee-hee-hee…” Classy stuff, no?’
She Who Must, although cleverer than me, and equipped with a degree from St. Andrews University (churning out weirdoes since 1413), is inclined to laugh like a drain at low-brow humour. This means I have to continually lower my own refined sensibilities to keep her entertained. It’s a struggle, but I am a good husband, I took an oath after all. Love, honour and cherish. And tell the occasional smutty/puerile joke. Involving fartings.
The post was about seeing the synopsis written by the marketing persons at St. Martin’s Press for Cold Granite for the first time.
Yea, OK, I did have beans for lunch, but that’s not the cause. It’s external wind I’m talking about: the kind that makes the veranda roof squeak and whooooom, like a demented monkey let loose on a set of off-key pan pipes.
I know it’s really windy, because in addition to this achordal cacophony, the picture on the satellite TV has gone all funny. This is happens when the digital bits that get beamed down from space to the dish bolted onto the side of our house like some diseased, grey fungus, are blown off-course. When the wind dies down I’ll have to go out and sweep up huge piles of fragments of programmes. Normally I wouldn’t bother, but now that I’ve painted the house white all those wayward pixels really make the walls look filthy.
The adverts are the worst, all that small print and loud music makes a hell of a mess. You need bleach to get rid of those bloody ‘Have you had an accident in the last three years?’ ones. And I won’t even start on the ‘Looking for a low cost loan?’ bastards.
Anyway, I have to go let the cat in now, if she’s out there for much longer she’s going to end up in Norway. Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooooosh... meow...
Did I mention it was windy?
No, our home has not been invaded by persons of diminutive stature. Instead it’s the curse of the procrastinating Muse of DOOM. AKA, 'piddle about with short stories, rather than get back into TSA'.
Which is worrying. After all, I have great faith in the power of the under-mind*, the ‘guys in the basement’ that do the thinking for me when I’m busy doing other things. Like trying to take over the world. Or thinking up a new word for ‘Gf********nk’. If I’m being unconsciously averted to TSA, does that mean that I’m not ready to go back to it yet? That I’ve not figured out enough to get back to the writing? That I’m a lazy bastard who’d rather sod about with a shorty for a couple of days than commit to another month and half of solid effort on one thing ... ?
Time to enter into a state of denial, methinks. Tra-la-la...
* Which is not to be confused with the undermined, involving as it does picks, shovels and the all-round depredation of confidence.
Well, the short list for the Creasey Memorial Dagger is up and about, but yours truly is not among the notables. Sigh. I’m guessing that as I’m six foot tall, I’m too big to be on a short list. Well, I SAY six foot, but that was back when I was eighteen and working off shore. I’m sure there’s probably been some shrinkage since then, caused by working in IT and the constant beatings. But if anyone asks: it’s six foot all the way, Baby. Oh yea!
I’ve been in two minds about going down to the Daggers Lunch thing this year. It’s an awfully LONG way to go for a boozy lunch and another chance to do my John Rickards impersonation.
The rotten swine has been at it again. Crack of dawn this morning and the rotten Muse was once again lying in wait. This time with a tiny scene for Logan’s third outing. Which will be a bastard to use as it’s going to come about half way into the book and play merry hell with the main characters. Quite possibly to the point of no return.
Of course, I could ignore Madame Muse, stuff my ears with craft cheese slices, hum the opening to ‘Ace Of Spades’ by Motorhead*, and pretend nothing was going on. But...
* Ever tried it? It’s a sure-fire trip to hyperventilation city.
Yes, I am an idiot (OK, so that’s hardly news, I know, but hey, you take what you can get in this life). I decided to demonstrate this fact by attempting to give myself third degree burns last night. Put chicken in oven to defrost (no, that’s not the stupid bit, our oven has a defrosty feature thing), think ‘Hmm, that chicken’s going to drip as it thaws, better put something underneath it to catch the chickeny meltwater... Oh look, that baking tray will do nicely.’ That baking dray did indeed do nicely. It did nicely in the top oven for quarter of an hour at two hundred and twenty degrees not five minutes earlier.
I love the way it takes about three seconds for the human body to go from ‘this heavy metal baking tray feels a bit tingly’ to ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!’ Just enough time to really get the flesh searing. I may have sworn a little bit.
Spent the rest of the night with my right hand in a jug full of really, really cold water (which She Who Must Minister To Her Stupid Husband When He Tries To Maim Himself kept dutifully topped up with ice cubes), self-anaesthetising with alcohol and foul-languaged mutterings.
All in all - a top night.
Well it looks like Madame Trace and Mr Winter aren’t the only ones suffering from an attack of the Muse right now. Last night, on my way to beddy-byes I was pounced upon in the hallway and the second instalment of Skeleton Bob forcibly rammed twixt mine ear-holes. Can’t decide if it’s going to be a special Christmas instalment, or if I’ll do it before then, but Skeleton Bob And The Four Sheep Of The Apocalypse it shall be*.
Then upon waking I went through to the kitchen, primarily to get breakfast for Little Miss and put the oven on for sausages, and found myself pondering that song about the twelve days of Christmas. And there she was – the Muse, lurking in the fridge behind the cherry tomatoes. I put up a valiant struggle, but in the end was pinned to the floor behind the laundry basket and force-fed an idea about producing twelve depressing, nasty little vignettes set in Oldcastle (nothing big and fancy). One for each of the twelve things mentioned in the song. These are to be posted in the run up to Christmas, one a day.
OK, so I know the twelve days of Christmas run in the other direction, i.e. after, not before, but I don’t care.
* With apologies to Mr James. See, this is really why I talked you out of the sinister sheep thing, so I could use it myself! Bwahahahahaaa...
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