Archive for June, 2011

The Pre-Launch Process

I bet you’ve always wondered what goes on in the household of an Indie Writer just two days before his first major book launch. What’s that? You haven’t? Ah well. Let’s just sit and watch The Apprentice then.

Except that I can’t. As I write this, my sister Gill is carefully constructing a big pair of pants out of cardboard. We are talking really, REALLY big pants. My fiance is taking time out from organizing our wedding (in less than three weeks’ time) to phone around every fancy dress shop in the west country, looking for an adult-sized bear suit.

I won’t even get into what my Mum is doing. I mean, I know I say some crazy shit on this blog, but there are some places even I dare not venture…

In between times we are sitting side-by-side on laptops, all four of us tapping away furiously – only the occasional expletive shatters the silence. Okay, so occasional shards of silence intrude on the torrent of swearing that pours forth from three mouths simultaneously! My fiance, of course, is above all that  :0)

My Dad, bless him, is relegated to a support role – making vast quantities of tea, largely because he does that anyway. Seriously, if you put an empty tea cup down in my house there’s already a fresh cup sitting next to it ready to be drunk. If you’re not on the ball you can quite easily end up with three or four lined up waiting.

And flyers are being printed. Ink is running out. More swearing follows a frantic Google map search to find the nearest PC World…

I make a ‘press release’. Then I look up ‘press release’. Then I destroy mine, as what I’ve made doesn’t even remotely resemble a press release. Well, it had a button that you press to release and that’s all I’ll say about that.

Having never done a book launch before I have the following piece of advice; Get Advice! I’ve been making it up as I go along, and it’s not pretty. By Friday I’ll be able to sleep standing up outside in a rainstorm – which is just as well, as I’ve more chance of seeing that than my bed. Oh, I do love my bed. Will it start to forget me? There’s always a danger someone will clean it while I’m not in it…

We’ve emailed every radio station and newspaper for miles around. We told them to expect a ‘promo team’ – I harbour a suspicion they might be a little disappointed if they show up in pouring rain to find my Mum waggling her ass in a bear suit outside ASDA, while Gill hands out limp leaflets. We’re not exactly the Red Bull Display Team.

Oh, how I HATE printers! I would say roughly 80% of the use of the word ‘BASTARD!!!’ in my house right now is directed at the printer. For no reason under God, it’s just decided to print two flyers per page instead of four. We haven’t changed a thing. It just fills half a page, then gives up. Apart from occasional psychotic episodes when it chews three pages to shit in one go. An hour later, when I finish screwing the top back onto it, I discover a small handful of plastic components that I swear didn’t come out of it… but now it won’t print at all. Plus I think I left my other screwdriver in there. I would have made a rotten surgeon.

Kevin McCloud once said that surgeons can bury their mistakes, whereas architects have to look at them forever. Where does that leave writer’s mistakes? Oh, I know: Amazon Sales Rank 400,000. At least down there no-one will ever see them. In obscurity, no-one can hear you scream…

So fingers crossed for a successful launch, eh! I mean, I don’t see why not.

Threats Made Involving Outsized Fish? – Check!

Inanimate objects cursed within an inch of continued operation? – Check!

Enormous pair of cardboard pants? – Check!

Strong belief in the power of positive thought? – Wavering…

What can possibly go wrong?

We’re almost done now. The house looks like an explosion in a stationary warehouse and flailing around in costume I’ve personally spilled more cups of tea than I’ve drunk. If anyone comes around tomorrow to congratulate me on my efforts, and they notice the mess, wet patches and tufts of hair on everything, perhaps they’ll think to blame the dog.

And I’ll be able to say, without a trace of a lie, “Oh, no. That’s from the bear.”

That Bear Ate My Pants!

Here it is, as promised – not only can you read a never-before-released sample of ‘THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS!’, you also get to see the shiny new cover! What do you think of it? As always, all comments gratefully received. Enjoy!

THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS! Cover Image

(This is taken from the middle of the book. In it I’m working as a volunteer in an animal refuge in Ecuador with Toby, my boss and mentor.)

A Close Shave

To me, a trip to Tambillo town meant food. There was a tiny bakery which sold bread rolls and an equally minute dairy shop which sold a kind of weak tasting, soggy white cheese. I was living almost exclusively on these two products. Shopping with Toby had been such a sensory overload that I hadn’t really spared much attention for what he was buying. A day later I’d awoken to the realisation that we still didn’t own any meat – in a country where the staple diet was chicken and rice, living with a vegetarian would be a singularly bland experience. We had an infinite variety of fruit of course and plenty of oatmeal. Hell, we might as well be eating straight from the animal’s feed bowl. It suited the monkeys. But alas, Toby’s shopping list had been utterly devoid of anything I consider food.

He’d bought a carrier bag full of chillies though. Seriously, the man was obsessed. He put them in his cheese and bread rolls. He put them in his rice. He put them in my rice. At times he put so many in that they outnumbered the rice. I could tell from his face when he was eating his corn flakes that he was wondering whether or not a dash of chilli would spice them up.

So when Toby decided he needed a haircut (and insinuated that I might be similarly in need) I jumped at the chance. A hike down and, later, back up again was adventure enough by itself, since it involved leaping crevasses in the road, climbing several fences and trying to walk for almost an hour at a forty five degree angle to the slope. It was murder on the thighs. At the bottom was the short road into Tambillo town – and on that road sat the Empanada Lady.

What is an Empanada? Now that’s a tough one to describe. Its… some kind of substance, not unlike play-dough, deep fried, covered with sugar and filled with cheese. Sounds disgusting eh? But they tasted like heaven. Especially since there was no burning sensation associated with eating them. I’d tried them twice and was already considering offering the woman who sold them hard cash for the recipe. She was so friendly, sitting on the step behind her pavement stall. She had merry eyes and deeply etched laughter lines, and skin tight blue jeans. Probably a stunner twenty years ago – or maybe five? Ages were almost impossible for me to guess as I had no basis for comparison. The Empanada Woman was ageless in body, but young in heart. She always smiled and asked simple questions like ‘How are you’? and ‘How are the animals?’ This meant I could actually formulate answers, and feel good about myself in the process. I guessed that Toby had taken other volunteers to sample her delights (by which I mean her Empanadas!).

With the late afternoon sun on my face I strolled casually along the street next to Toby. Stall holders and the odd passer-by threw us an occasional “Buenos Dias!”. Across from us stone steps led down to a series of formal gardens arranged around a central monument. Together they formed a square, bordered on all sides by the road, and the whole lot sloped sharply away from us. The buildings that lined the square formed Tambillo town – apart from the gas station on the Quito road and the pay phone shop on the street leading back up to it, there really wasn’t much else. It was peaceful, especially at this hour, and quaint. Every wall needed paint, every shutter repairing, but the people seemed relaxed and friendly. I was starting to like Tambillo for more than just it’s sodden cheese.

We ducked into the miniscule hairdresser’s shop, and a slim, middle-aged woman with smiling eyes wasn’t there. She was in the shop next door, chatting happily to it’s owner with no fear at all of what was happening in her own little place. Which was strange, because there was a young lad with half-cut hair still sitting in the padded armchair and picking his nose in front of the mirror. Our presence was clearly the reminder she needed though, and she quickly scooted in through the door making the place feel quite crowded. She seemed scaled to fit the room at about four foot nine, and as he stood up, apparently satisfied with what I still maintain was an incomplete haircut, the boy proved to be equally small. I watched him leave, fascinated by his sense of style. Or maybe he could only afford the first stage and was having his hair done in instalments.

Toby took his turn first, chatting amiably to the young woman. She seemed very friendly. It didn’t take long, largely because he emerged from the chair unchanged to the naked eye. Apparently he’d had something cut off somewhere, and I decided to pursue the matter no further than that. I was starting to believe his faded red baseball cap was actually grafted to his skull anyway, so it seemed unlikely that his life would be changed overly much by the absence of such a microscopic amount of hair.

He nipped next door to buy us a couple of beers, leaving me alone and within clear speaking distance of the hairdresser. I gave her a wide smile, then carefully studied the lino floor.

Something something something?” She asked. I recognised by the rise in her voice at the end that it was a question. I glanced at the door. Toby was still very inconsiderately buying me a beer. I groped for an appropriate response, and came up with a technique I’d been falling back on more and more recently.

Si.” I replied.

She seemed satisfied.

Then as if by magic Toby was back, handing me a nearly cold beer, joking with the hairdresser, and beckoning me forward for my turn under the scissors. I was feeling a little nervous as I parked my ass in the chair. I really hoped she wasn’t fond of small talk. I was liking silence.

Toby asked me what I wanted.

“Just a bit shorter, really – short back and sides, nice and tidy. Not too short though.” I warned him.

I still don’t know the exact Spanish words he used, and I’m sure he doesn’t remember them either, so I’m probably paraphrasing here. He turned to the hairdresser with the barest trace of a grin. “Shave it all off,” he said.

And she did.

“Yeah, I stitched up a few of my mates like that back home,” he elaborated, as we sat on the curb outside the hairdressers with our beers. “They always say ‘Don’t stitch me up, right?’, so I persuade them it’ll look great.”

I couldn’t stop running my hand over the back of my head. At least in a couple of weeks, I thought, I would be able clean my nails this way.

“They must think you’re an asshole,” I diplomatically remarked, careful to keep myself out of the equation.

“Yeah,” he agreed.

“Well, I don’t care,” I lied.

“It’s easier in the mornings! And easier to wash shit out of!” He reminded me.

“Yeah. True.” I wasn’t actually planning on rubbing my head in much shit regardless of the length of my hair. Toby himself seemed to have managed to avoid the problem of a head covered in crusty shit despite having hair infinitely longer than mine was now.

The hair on my arse also never seemed to suffer from this particular problem, despite it too now being considerably longer than that on my head. I was clearly thinking way too much about this situation. But at least it was taking my mind off the shape of my skull.

We returned our empty beer bottles and set off back through the town. His hair stirring gracefully in the wind, me staggering jerkily along behind him in a state of shock. Letting out an occasional anguished moan. Two feet taller than anyone else around, with a pallid bald head the shape of a dented light bulb. I wondered if any of the locals had ever seenFrankenstein.

END

Hope you enjoyed that! ‘THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS!’ will be available as downloadable eBook for Kindle, Mac or PC from 1st July. It is priced at £2.99 (or $2.99 for US buyers). If you like the sound of it, please tell your friends! Hell, tell your enemies too. Maybe they’ll stop hating you afterwards!

Join the launch party on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=245219902160197

Welcome Tweet-fans!

Hi there!
A lot of you will have come here from Twitter, where I’ve been shamelessly promoting myself for the last couple of days.
If that is the case, you might have been told that I blog about crazy shit. In fact, you might even have come here looking for it. Well I hate to dissapoint, so here it is:

Cuddly turd

Yes, it is a cuddly poo. Crazy or what? Don't know where I find this shit...

After all, shit is just shit. Crazy shit is the kind that makes you say, “Mother of God! That is an unusual turd.”

So, mission accomplished. And I got through my quota of swear words in one paragraph, so I’m going to have to delve deep for enough language to continue…

There has been a few times since starting this blog that I’ve had to type really wierd things into Google. If anyone were to steal my laptop and turn it on, they’d freak out wondering what the hell kind of person I am! There are now three photo folders on my desktop labeled ‘Fat Men in Speedos’, ‘Surgical Torture Instruments’ and ‘Pictures of Strange Poo’.
But then, serves the bugger right for stealing my laptop.

Not that anyone would steal my iBook G4 – it’s been obsolete for longer than some of you have owned laptops. I desperately needed a piece of conversion software whilst formatting my book, but it would only run on the newer Macbooks, so I posted a question on some forum asking what I should do. Only one guy bothered to get back to me. He said: ‘Dude. Get a new laptop.’

I’d love to. But I can’t afford it – at least, not until I shift some books. So back to the point of this post (What’s that? Surprised? Yes, this post has a point damnit! I’m just taking the scenic route):

BUY MY BOOK!!! Please. Or I will find you and push soggy spaghetti into your ear holes. This ‘motivated  sales tactic’ has come under some fire from my fellow authors as unethical. But they’ll be cleaning their ears out for a while yet, so not to worry.

My next post will reveal the genius behind my strategy to sail to the top of the charts with my book ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’  We’re into the final week before the launch, so I’ll be posting more about the book over the next few days (including some samples), and eventually the link to Amazon where you can buy it.

Ooh, you lucky people you! Right, that’s your lot. See you soon!