Demon hunting’s a young mans’ game isn’t it? Actius and Grimsby – an excerpt.

About a week ago I started on a new writing project. I didn’t intend to, it just kind of happened. I had the idea and went to do what i usually do which is write a couple of seed paragraphs and a few notes before moving it to the backburner to be finished off at some point in the future.

However, this was one of those stories that doesn’t want to stay in and I wrote close to 3000 words in about two days. Which is a lot for me, someone who usually feels pretty accomplished with 500 in a day. The ideas for it flowed thick and fast and I already now have 3 chapters for what I thought initially would be a short story.

The elevator pitch was a Fantasy/Horror with a Romance element featuring a Demon hunting middle-aged Gay couple. I mentioned this on Twitter and quite a few people liked the idea. I’m pretty happy with how it is progressing, so I have decided to share the opening couple of scenes.

It doesn’t even have a working title yet which is weird for me, so for now I’m using the names of the two main characters. Without further ado I now  introduce you to Actius and Grimsby:

     Jolting uncomfortably at the movement of the cart on the uneven road Grimsby tried to find a better position among the sacks of grain. After a fruitless minute of wondering how a bag of stuff could be so bloody uncomfortable he gave up and searched inside his jacket while steadying himself against the edge of the tray. At length he pulled a dented flask out, removing the cork with his teeth to take a swig.
“So, where are we headed to again?”

The reply came from what at a casual glance seemed to be a pile of discarded clothing that revealed itself to be a man. He sat up from where he had been laying in an attempt to nap. “I really wish you would pay attention once in a while, honestly, what do you do in that head of yours while the High Magus is talking?”
“Daydream about not listening to the High Magus mostly.”
“How someone with as much blatant disrespect for authority as you ever became a Warden I’ll never know,” said Actius, shaking his head and reaching his hand out for the flask “Come on. Give me some, seeing as you’ve got it out already.”
“That’s what you said the night I met you if I recall correctly” Grimsby said, handing Actius the flask with a smirk.
Actius rolled his eyes and tried not to laugh. “You are a terrible human being sometimes, you know that?”
Grimsby drew himself up in mock indignation “I’ll have you know that the human blood in me is deeply offended”
“…and the demon blood your grandmother let in is laughing its tits off I’m sure” Actius said, drinking gingerly from the flask. His face froze for a second as the liquid hit his throat and caused him to cough before he sucked in some air desperately while patting his chest.
“Makers breath! What ungodly concoction have you been drinking?”
“It’s a brew Finster and I cooked up while you were off chanting rhyming couplets with the other Magi. You don’t like it?”
“I’ve used nicer things to clean bloodstains out of my robes,” answered Actius with distaste “Sometimes I wonder if I should worry about the ideas that you and that alchemist friend of yours come up with.”
“Probably.”

Actius snorted and moved over next to his partner “Let me in, I need a pillow to rest on.”
Grimsby lifted his arm for Actius as he snuggled his lithe frame in beside him.
“You need to trim your beard.” He said as he found a comfortable place for his head on Grimsby’s barrellous chest.
“But my beard is what makes me handsome, without it I’m just some potato faced slob.”
Actius moved up to kiss him delicately on the cheek, before laying his head down again “Well, there is that I suppose.”He said as he closed his eyes. “We’re headed to Ashvale by the way, something about a poisonous fog.”
“I’ll just follow your lead then.”

Grimsby pushed back the cowl of the robe to gently run his fingers over the electric blue rune that had been branded onto his Husband’s forehead long ago. Even now – twenty years after he had survived the choosing and become a fully initiated Magus – the colour of it stood out brightly against the deep brown of his skin, as if it had a source of light inside it that kept it bright. He had always been secretly jealous of the aesthetic of the Magi’s branding compared to the tattoos that signified him as a Warden. Actius had always said that the knotted ropes of black ink symbology that began on the back of his hands and rose up his arms to curl around his neck were impressive, especially when he charged shirtless into battle. Not that I do that much anymore, he mused. He brushed across the greying hair on Actius’s temples, mentally comparing it with the grey he had noticed in his own beard of late and wondered if they were getting too old for this kind of lark. Dismissing the thought for some other time, he leaned back a little and tried to sync their bodies with the swaying of the cart as it continued its way along the road.

***

Grimsby looked back toward the hamlet of Ashvale as it lurked furtively among the low hills in the way that all of the border towns seemed to do. If it wasn’t for the permanently flaming pyre atop the tower of the Magus in its center Ashville would probably fade into the surroundings with ease. But, such was the will of the Makers. If the Maker of Fire demanded a permanent flame over their holy site, then a permanent flame was what they got. After all, if the Magi were denied the source of their power on account of the tantrum of a miffed god they would all be fairly screwed.

Thinking of the cosy bar in the Sundered Hound and the warm stew and good ale that he had recently imbibed he sighed and turned his attention back to Actius who was surveying the open country in front of them. He was using a hand to shield his eyes from the afternoon sun that stabbed its way down through fitful grey clouds, the expression on his face neutral.
“Hagen asked if we could check in on the ward stone while we were out here and make sure the enchantment is up to scratch,” Actius said matter of factly.
Grimsby groaned in complaint. “Must we? You know those damned things give me awful headaches.”
“Despite your discomfort, yes. Myra was taken ill after inhaling some of the fog we’re here to investigate and they’re short handed at the moment.”
“I suppose you didn’t think to suggest that someone else do it did you?”

Actius paused and gave his partner a sideways look “As a matter of fact I volunteered to do it. The Wards are our primary defense against the horrors out there in the valley and if they fall Maker knows what kind of work we’d be up for to stem the tide. Imagine how much complaining you’d have for me then.”
Grimsby harrumphed sheepishly in reply.
“If you want to complain about about headaches, go find a spirit talker and whinge to your Grandma the great hero Klara Ironhead. Then you can tell her not to make doe eyes at handsome demons”

With that Actius pulled his robe tight around himself and began to stalk across the sparse ground, boots crunching on dried grass and rocks as he went. Grimsby hefted his pack and followed him wordlessly.

Thank you for reading 🙂

*Insert Blog Post Here*

So, I haven’t written anything consistent in the last few months and nor have I done a blog post in ages. Getting back onto the horse can be tricky once you’ve been off it for a while and it’s annoying and frustrating. I’ve been very good at not beating myself up for falling off it in the first place, I took a necessary break from quite a few things, including my social media accounts in order to sort out the mental health issues I was having (for those playing at home I had a major depressive episode earlier this year and it took me a while to get back onto some sort of even keel).

That being said, it doesn’t make it any less disheartening to look at the stats on the writing app I have on my phone (Writeometer if you’re wondering, tell them I mentioned them and they might send me money – *laughs*) and see that it is now 77 days since i last posted a solid word count and it’s only been dribs and drabs since then. Most of that in truth has been re-writing. The raw font of creativity has not ushered out its goodness for a while and I’m starting to feel a bit anxious about it if I’m being totally honest. It’s not that I haven’t had thoughts or ideas – I still have plenty of those – it is more about …

The slip ‘twixt brain and page.

AKA getting the damn things out of my head and onto a page or a screen or a clay tablet or literally anything at this point. Which is why i am doing this post now, it’s like doing stretches before exercises or something, mostly just a train of thought that I’m going to put out onto the interweb for… reasons.

AND FOR MY NEXT ACT!

An inspirational blog post in four parts:

  • *Heartfelt personal anecdote*
  • *Piercingly insightful realisation*
  • *Encourage others to do the same*
  • *Pithy motivational one-liner*

I’m off to open Scrivener now and do the thing with the alphabet for the wordforming and the storymaking.

 

The ‘Stolen’ Indie Anthology is released!

Back in March of this year I submitted a short story for a Charity Anthology being put together over on the Virulent Blurb website. The theme for the Anthology was Stolen and I was very pleased that my story “The Rort” was chosen for inclusion.

Today is exciting because that Anthology has now been released into the wild and is available for people to buy! It’s a particularly exciting day for me because this marks a personal milestone of being the first time that a story of mine will appear in print in a real book with an ISBN and everything.

The Anthology itself was aimed at giving a platform for new and independent writers, so my story sits side by side with 14 other Indie writers. It is a charity Anthology and as such all profits generated from it will go to  Children with Cancer UK, you can see their website and the work they do here.

So, today is release day and the book can now be bought. Anthology cover

It looks like this and is available on Amazon Kindle and also as a Print on Demand paperback through Lulu.com.

Links, Links, Links – You can purchase it from the following places:

Print on Demand paperback from here – Lulu.com

Kindle e-book versions – Amazon AUSAmazon UK                                                     Amazon US

 

Special thanks need to go out from me to my writer friend S.Hunter Nisbet who very helpfully assisted me in getting the story submission ready in the first place.

You can see her website and check out a sample of her recently released novel ‘What boys are made of.’ by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May the 4th be with you!

I’m a fairly solid Star Wars fan, I’ve loved it since I was a kid. I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of the extended universe and I’ve only seen one of the prequels, but I’m a fan and It’s always had a special place in my heart. I am fortunate enough that not far from where I live In the city of Newcastle, there is a Star Wars themed cafe called The Empire Coffee Co. It’s owned and operated by some members of the Southern Cross Garrison of the 501st legion. A wonderful charity full of Star Wars Cosplayers – if you are not aware of them or their work, which includes such moments as turning up to escort the girl dressed as Leia in these pictures to her year 6 formal – you can check out their website here.

Today, being May the 4th and international Star Wars day they had an event on. I went down with my kids to check it out and basically just wanted to share some of the photos I took. So here:

Five Days Deep.

This was originally posted  as part of the Train of Thought Blog project and is still hosted there. If you like it, go have a look at some of the other contributors works as well.

I normally enjoy trains and traveling on them, but I hate this one. An all stations ride that takes forever between each station and waits for eternity at every single one of them. At each stop I curse any passengers who need to use that particular waypoint. Muttering profanities in my misery.

It is midday on Boxing Day. The second worst day of the year to use public transport if you are in a hurry. Surpassed only by New Year’s Day and I am in a hurry.

I am on my way home and want this train to get there as fast as possible. I am running desperately from the fakery of having to act normal around my relatives. Hanging badly because I have been unable to silence the gnawing chatter of my cravings. It has been a week since I stoned myself into oblivion and I can feel it.

For five days I have silently teetered on the edge of screaming abuse at everyone around me. I made pleasant talking noises and tried to ignore my entire body screaming incessantly at me for more heroin. Just one hit to tide me over, a small one if it had to be, but a hit. A hit was all I needed to feel better. But, that cupboard had been bare.

It was Christmas, so I could drink without suspicion.  But, it just made me drunk and edgy because the constant creeping itch that crawls my body won’t let me relax for a second. I dutifully hugged Aunts and Uncles and talked to cousins I hadn’t seen for years. The whole time just wanting to be alone so I could curl into a tight little ball and weep with frustration.  Be able to let out those great, painful, tear-less sobs that I hope will exorcise the demon I carry. The one that sits inside my head, scratching at the back of my eyes with its insistent little claws. The one that screams “Feed me! Feed me!” Over and over again until it becomes a keening wail of loss and need that I cannot block my ears to. It ebbs and flows, but never disappears completely. It is always there, a fingernail on blackboard mantra that sets my teeth on edge. A demon dirge that makes me nervous, twitchy and unable to sit still.

I’d heard of food turning to ash and vinegar in people’s mouths before, but always assumed it was poetic license. Whereas now I understand it perfectly. Every time I had to sit at a table heaped with festive treats my stomach would turn at the thought of food. But, I would choke down as much as I could so nothing would seem amiss. Only to throw it up later while I ran the taps in the bathroom to cover the sound of my retching.

My family doesn’t know of my addiction so I hide my withdrawal symptoms. Because, if they knew, the sympathy would be unbearable and once I fell into those well-meaning hands I wouldn’t escape without a fight. Besides, it gives me something to focus on. Compared to my cravings, the challenge of appearing normal to a whole bunch of people is a welcome one.

But, that’s over now and I am on this frustratingly slow train home during what is my longest clean stretch so far. I could swear that some of the puffy bruises on my arms have begun to fade a little. A sign that I might actually be getting somewhere. Of course, the battle has only just begun and those bruises taunt me whenever I see them. Softly whispering entreaties that slither around inside my ears like satin tentacles, enticing and revolting at the same time.

I sit alone in the emptiest carriage I could find, staring out the window without really looking. The elation of the doors closing behind me as I stepped on board has long worn off and I have begun to slide down again into the dark places in my head.

I can’t just sit here any longer, it’s too much. Feeling the need to move I stand and walk toward the end of the carriage. Then it hits me. All of the horror that I have kept at bay. A physical wave of craving hits me like a massive breaker at the beach, knocking the wind out of me. I stagger as I walk, suddenly gasping for air. My stomach spasms painfully, punctuating the spinning of my head. I grasp the edge of a seat as my sight begins to strobe. Spots and great coloured splotches appearing in front of my eyes as I fumble my way forward. Knees suddenly too weak to support me collapse and I flop into the seat under the window. Huddling against the wall and clawing at myself as I begin to shake and shiver in my torment.

I remain there. Slowly rocking myself from side to side with the rhythm of the train as I wait for this feeling to fade, afraid to move in case I can no longer control my body. Waiting for it to return itself to me and hoping that this godforsaken locomotive will reach my station soon.

Writer Q&A Tag

 

I was tagged for this by my good friend Aila Stephens. You can find her Q&A here. Full disclosure that this is my second time being tagged in this particular game and am presumably now an honorary member of the blogging sisterhood. I’ve already answered one round of questions in this post ‘Click me’. But there were different questions this time and there’s nothing that says i can’t do another one, so there. Besides, they’re fun to do.

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

The Rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their blog in your post.
2. Answer the questions that the blogger who nominated you has provided.
3. Nominate ten other bloggers (or up to 10)
4. Create ten questions for your nominees and notify them of their nominations.

Aila’s questions

1.) What object is closest to the left of your computer and how could you use it in the zombie apocalypse?

Umm, it’s a mason jar cup with a candle inside it. I’m probably screwed. Why do i not keep a flamethrower in my living room for questions like these?

2.) You’re in the woods; it’s dark. Suddenly a branch cracks on the ground only a few feet behind you and all the little hairs on your neck stand at attention – what is the *first* thing you hope it isn’t going to be?

The anthropomorphized spirit of all of my ignored To-Do lists coming to hunt me down.

3.) What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Strawberry. I was the kid who ate all the strawberry out of the Neapolitan tub when everybody else went for chocolate. It is surprisingly difficult to find nice strawberry ice cream by the way. It’s an under appreciated flavour. I’m also partial to a good vanilla ice cream. ‘You say boring, I say Classic’.

4.) What known (doesn’t have to be well-known) superhero would you be, and which of their villains would you most want to face?

Not strictly a super hero because he doesn’t have special powers, but he’s been wearing purple tights and fighting baddies in comics since the 1930s. I would choose to be The Phantom, ‘The Ghost Who Walks’, milk drinking puncher of bad guys (I wanted one of those skull rings so badly when i was a kid). I read the comics religiously every week  and just – don’t talk to me about the movie okay?

Villains? I would totes want to face his old nemesis the Singh Brotherhood pirates.

phantom 1

 

5.) What charitable organization is closest to your heart, and why?

The Samaritans. Because their family support workers were invaluable to me when i was first dealing with becoming a single father.

6.) What is your absolute favorite thing about yourself?

The fact that i have grown and evolved a lot as a person in the last few years.

7.) What is your favorite season and why?

Early Autumn, when the weather is good to wear jeans and a t-shirt without being too hot or cold. Also Mid Summer because I love the summer storms that we get here on the East Coast (but I’m not a fan of the heat).

8.) Do you have any special talents?

Devastating charm and disarming wit. The ability to get up every day and keep going.

9.) What were your three favorite posters that hung in your bedroom as a teenager?

A poster of Sid Viscous from the Sex pistols playing bass.

An 80s poster of Samantha Fox in a leather biker outfit and impractical stiletto heeled boots.

One of those digital art trippy sphere posters that were so popular with stoners in the 90s.

 

10.) You’re a guest at a well-attended party, what are you most likely doing?

  • Being deeply involved in conversation with one or two people.
  • Wandering around awkwardly trying not to embarrass myself.
  • Hiding outside with a cigarette and using Twitter on my phone in order to look busy.

It took me a month to come up with 10 people to nominate last time, I’ll start with one and add to it later.

Sarah Mitchell Jackson of Running Without Slipping blog.

EDIT: Here are my questions that i forgot to put in 😛

  1. Do you believe in the “You must write every single day” ethos?
  2. What was the last book you read?
  3. How do you find balancing time to write with the rest of your life?
  4. Are you a Planner or a Pantser?
  5. What are you currently working on?
  6. How do you handle criticism of your work?
  7. When people ask the inevitable “what do you write about?” how do you respond?
  8. Who are the Writers you admire and why?
  9. How much of yourself is in any of your characters?
  10. Where do you write from? What fuels the stories you choose to tell and why?

 

 

In the company of #writers

About a year go i started using Twitter actively. I’ve had an account for ages, but my use before then was limited to logging in every few weeks or so and shouting some random stuff into the void. then I began to be active and actually interact with people and suddenly I understood why people liked this platform. The main area that I started connecting with people was via the #amwriting hashtag and through that I found the #1linewed game. Through that I met a whole bunch of other writers and found on Twitter a community that I have yet to find in my local community. That is a collection of awesome people who shared the same passion/madness for storytelling that I do. They have been a community that I felt encouraged and welcomed by. A collective group that has given me advice and helped me out when the words weren’t happening and I have done my best to pay this stuff forward.

Needless to say. finding a community of other writers has been beneficial for me. One of the biggest things that I have gotten out of having a group of other writers to talk to is the will to keep working on my dream of finishing and publishing my novel. Of getting my work out there. Which brings me to the point of why I started this post in the first place.

Early on the majority of the other writers that I knew were unpublished. I remember at times while reading snippets of countless peoples work thinking that it was like being in the middle of a heap of great novels while they were being written. In the last few months particularly I have seen quite a few of my writer friends cross the line to becoming published Authors. Some have gotten traditional publishing deals and some have taken the Independent publishing path, both of which have their own pros, cons and challenges. I don’t personally believe that either is better or worse, just different ways to get to the same goal. Having your book out there for people to read.

It is incredibly gratifying for me to see my friends take that next step. I get really excited when i see somebody post about it and I just want to share that love basically. Because one of the things that i really believe in is that as writers we should support each other and not see each other as competition or any kind of bullshit like that.

So, this is me taking a moment to say congratulations and thank you and to encourage all of you to keep on doing what you are doing.